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Understanding MySQL Internals by Sasha Pachev

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Chapter 8. Concurrent Access and Locking

A proper locking mechanism is necessary to ensure data consistency when there is a possibility of multiple clients accessing and possibly modifying the same data at the same time. There are three main approaches to solving this problem: table-level locks, page-level locks, and row-level locks. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Table-level locks have the simplest logic, which results in fewer bugs and better performance in the area of lock acquisition. Deadlocks can be fairly easily avoided. On the other hand, locking the entire table results in poor performance for applications that do a large number of concurrent reads and writes.

Row-level locks allow high performance at a very high level of concurrency at the cost of greater complexity in the implementation. This results in slower performance for applications that have a low probability of lock contention as well as higher probability of bugs. It is also very difficult to completely avoid deadlocks, and many implementations do deadlock detection instead.

As the granularity of a lock decreases, the amount of memory required to lock the same amount of data generally increases. So does the complexity of the algorithm, and the potential for a deadlock. However, the decrease in the granularity of the lock increases the potential for concurrent access, which can delay the unfortunate application that has to wait for the lock.

The row-level lock has the smallest granularity; ...

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