Dan Drust

Software Engineer
based in West Michigan

Database Daily: Buffer Pool

1 May 2023

Goal: Sketch out a buffer pool concept, thinking about file management

Tonight I turned my attention to putting some limits around what how much memory the database application will be able to handle at a time. These are sort of fake constraints to give me a tighter leash - prompting me, I hope, to consider things like memory management and performance more carefully.

I wrote a BufferPool singleton that holds up to 64 4kb buffers. A Buffer is simply a wrapper around Ruby’s StringIO. Any class that needs to request data from persistent storage will do so via the BufferPool interface, which will return a Buffer instance. Eventually, clients will be able to fill a buffer, modify it, and ask the BufferPool to save it back to persistent storage. But for now, it can read a single 4kb page from a given file!

In keeping with being a good steward of resources, the BufferPool will track which pages are under it’s managent at a given time. So two consecutive calls to BufferPool.get_page(relation, 1) will return the same buffer (representing the 1-index page from the relation’s underlying storage file).

This increment means that Relation loses some responsibility, conceptually. Once it’s all said and done Relation should be a light class at this point - storing a file path and information about the relations schema.

Next time, I’d like to implement a Scan node that is buffer-aware. That is, it should request a page from the BufferPool, iterate over it, return it, request the next page, keep iterating, etc., until the entire relation is scanned. This will serve to 1.) stand up a reference implementation for a buffer-aware iterator and 2.) think about the Buffer lifecycle.

Written by Dan Drust on 1 May 2023

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