HandlerSocket + Ruby

 What is HandlerSocket (HS)

HandlerSocket query language is very simple (I’d even say it’s primitive), but it’s much faster than MySQL’s one. Though, of course, there are some limitations. Interested?


You already have it if you are using Percona Server or MariaDB. If not, install it from the source.

To activate the plugin, run:

INSTALL PLUGIN handlersocket SONAME 'handlersocket.so';


My configuration is the following:

# [mysqld] section
# the port number to bind to for read requests
loose_handlersocket_port = 9998
# the port number to bind to for write requests
loose_handlersocket_port_wr = 9999
# the number of worker threads for read requests
loose_handlersocket_threads = 16
# the number of worker threads for write requests
loose_handlersocket_threads_wr = 1
open_files_limit = 65535

You can find a detailed documentation of all available configuration options here

Restart your MySQL server and run:

show processlist\G

You should see a lot of rows like:

           Id: 1
         User: system user
         Host: connecting host
           db: NULL
      Command: Connect
         Time: NULL
        State: handlersocket: mode=rd, 0 conns, 0 active
         Info: NULL
    Rows_sent: 0
Rows_examined: 0

which means that HS daemon is up and running.

 Simple queries

You can test it locally using telnet:

$ telnet 9999
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.

Type P -> 0 -> your_database -> your_table -> PRIMARY -> id,some_column (where -> is Tab). And press Enter. It should return 0 -> 1.

This protocol looks ugly, but it may save you a lot of network usage. It’s very compact, and parsing doesn’t require any CPU usage.

 Use cases

If you don’t have too much queries per second, probably you don’t need HS. It doesn’t optimize queries, but you may save some time on request parsing + some network. You may find it interesting if you have a lot of simple queries, like simple SELECT‘s by primary key.

 Ruby adapter

Here goes my Ruby for HandlerSocket protocol. You can find it here.

It has two implementations inside:

Ruby implementation is very slow, it’s there mainly to explain the protocol. C-based is quite fast.

 Adapter API

To require a specific implementation, run

# For slow pure Ruby implementation
require 'handlersocket/pure'
# For fast C implementation
require 'handlersocket/ext'

To create a connection, run

hs = Handlersocket.new('', 9999)

Both pure Ruby and C implementations have the same API, so the require place is the only difference.

To open an index, run

hs.open_index('0', 'hs_test', 'users', 'PRIMARY', ['id', 'email'])

To read the data from that index, run

hs.find('0', '=', ['12'], ['100]'])
# Which is equal to
# SELECT id, name FROM hs_test.users WHERE id = 12 LIMIT 100

Other commands like auth/insert/update/delete are not there yet. But it’s not that difficult to add them, check out this file, implementation of other methods also takes ~2 lines of code.


The most interesting part. To run benchmarks locally, clone the gem repository on github and run rake benchmark. It compares Mysql2 gem to Ruby-based and C-based implementations. Here are my results:

Calculating -------------------------------------
             pure HS     2.000  i/100ms
              ext HS     3.149k i/100ms
              mysql2   669.000  i/100ms
             pure HS     49.979  (± 2.0%) i/s -    250.000
              ext HS    110.369M (±15.7%) i/s -    467.793M
              mysql2      5.218M (±16.3%) i/s -     23.869M

              ext HS: 110369437.2 i/s
              mysql2:  5218120.6 i/s - 21.15x slower
             pure HS:       50.0 i/s - 2208314.91x slower

I’ve run these benchmarks on 4 cores server with 4GB ram on Percona server 5.6. On both small and huge (30 millions records) datasets, with enabled and disabled query cache, with a small and a big value of innodb_buffer_pool_size.

There’s a 20-30x performance difference between Mysql2 and a C-based version of HandlerSocket because:

And I was really disappointed by performance of Ruby-based implementation. It’s 2 millions times slower than C-based. Why? There’s a magical number 50.0 i/s, but I cannot find what does it mean. If you have an answer, please, ping me on Twitter.

 Future plans

The gem mostly works, but there are some points that should be refined. Currently when network goes down there’s no way to reconnect because HS protocol is stateful. There’s no history tracking in HS objects, so if you open an index and then reconnect, you lose your opened index. I’m not sure if it should be implemented on a low level of abstraction in HS gem, probably it’s better to make a separated high-level gem for AR that does this job.


Once again, HandlerSocket saves your time on query parsing, buliding a query plan, it’s more compact, but is very limited. If you don’t have too many requests, don’t even think about using it.


HandlerSocket protocol

Ruby gem for HandlerSocket

HandlerSocket configuration


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