Performance Evaluation of SST Data Transfer: Without Encryption (Part 1)

SST Data Transfer

In this blog, we’ll look at evaluating the performance of an SST data transfer without encryption.

A State Snapshot Transfer (SST) operation is an important part of Percona XtraDB Cluster. It’s used to provision the joining node with all the necessary data. There are three methods of SST operation available: mysqldump, rsync, xtrabackup. The most advanced one – xtrabackup – is the default method for SST in Percona XtraDB Cluster.

We decided to evaluate the current state of xtrabackup, focusing on the process of transferring data between the donor and joiner nodes tp find out if there is any room for improvements or optimizations.

Taking into account that the security of the network connections used for Percona XtraDB Cluster deployment is one of the most important factors that affects SST performance, we will evaluate SST operations in two setups: without network encryption, and in a secure environment.

In this post, we will take a look at the setup without network encryption.


  • database server: Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.7 on the donor node
  • database: sysbench database – 100 tables, 4M rows each (total ~122GB)
  • network: donor/joiner hosts are connected with dedicated 10Gbit LAN
  • hardware: donor/joiner hosts – boxes with 28 Cores+HT/RAM 256GB/Samsung SSD 850/Ubuntu 16.04

In our test, we will measure the amount of time it takes to stream all necessary data from the donor to the joiner with the help of one of SST’s methods.

Before testing, I measured read/write bandwidth limits of the attached SSD drives (with the help of sysbench/fileio): they are ~530-540MB/sec. That means that the best theoretical time to transfer all of our database files (122GB) is ~230sec.

Schematic view of SST methods:

  • Streaming DB files from the donor to joiner with tar
    (donor) tar | socat                         socat | tar (joiner)

    • tar is not really an SST method. It’s used here just to get some baseline numbers to understand how long it takes to transfer data without extra overhead.
  • Streaming DB files from the donor to joiner with rsync protocol
    (donor) rsync                               rsync(daemon mode) (joiner)

    • While working on the testing of the rsync SST method, I found that the current way of data streaming is quite inefficient: rsync parallelization is directory-based, not file-based. So if you have three directories, – for instance sbtest (100files/100GB), mysql (75files/10MB), performance_schema (88files/1M) – the rsync SST script will start three rsync processes, where each process will handle its own directory. As a result, instead of parallel transfer we end up with one stream that only streams the largest directory (sbtest). Replacing that approach with one that iterates over all files in datadir and queues them to rsync workers allows us to speed up the transfer of data 2-3 times.On the charts, ‘rsync’ is the current approach and ‘rsync_improved’ is the improved one.
  • Backup data on the donor side and stream it to the joiner in xbstream format
    (donor) xtrabackup | socat  socat | xbstream (joiner)

At the end of this post, you will find the command lines used for testing each SST method.

SST Data Transfer

Streaming of our database files with tar took a minimal amount of time, and it’s very close to the best possible time (~230sec). xtrabackup is slower (~2x), as is rsync (~3x).

From profiling xtrabackup, we can clearly see two things:

  1. IO utilization is quite low
  2. A notable amount of time was spent in crc32 computation

Issue 1
xtrabackup can process data in parallel, however by default it does it with a single thread only. Our tests showed that increasing the number of parallel threads to 2/4 with the


 option allows us to improve IO utilization and reduce streaming time. One can pass this option to xtrabackup by adding the following to the [sst] section of my.cnf:


Issue 2
By default xtrabackup uses software-based crc32 functions from the libz library. Replacing this function with a hardware-optimized one allows a notable reduction in CPU usage and a speedup in data transfer. This fix will be included in the next release of xtrabackup.

SST Data Transfer

We ran more tests for xtrabackup with the parallel option and hardware optimized crc32, and got results that confirm our analysis. Streaming time for xtrabackup is now very close to baseline and storage limits.

Testing details

For the purposes of testing, I’ve created a script “” that covers all the methods used in this post. You can try to measure all the above SST methods in your environment. In order to run script, you have to adjust several environment variables in the beginning, such as

joiner ip



 location on the joiner and donor hosts, etc. After that, put the script to the “donor” and “joiner” hosts and run it as the following:

#joiner_host> --mode=joiner --sst-mode=<tar|xbackup|rsync>
#donor_host> --mode=donor --sst-mode=<tar|xbackup|rsync|rsync_improved>

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