High CPU usage

In general, it is a NORMAL situation for clickhouse that while processing a huge dataset it can use a lot of (or all of) the server resources. It is ‘by design’ - just to make the answers faster.

The main directions to reduce the CPU usage is to review the schema / queries to limit the amount of the data which need to be processed, and to plan the resources in a way when single running query will not impact the others.

Any attempts to reduce the CPU usage will end up with slower queries!

How to slow down queries to reduce the CPU usage

If it is acceptable for you - please check the following options for limiting the CPU usage:

  1. setting max_threads: reducing the number of threads that are allowed to use one request. Fewer threads = more free cores for other requests. By default, it’s allowed to take half of the available CPU cores, adjust only when needed. So if if you have 10 cores then max_threads = 10 will work about twice faster than max_threads=5, but will take 100% or CPU. (max_threads=5 will use half of CPUs so 50%).

  2. setting os_thread_priority: increasing niceness for selected requests. In this case, the operating system, when choosing which of the running processes to allocate processor time, will prefer processes with lower niceness. 0 is the default niceness. The higher the niceness, the lower the priority of the process. The maximum niceness value is 19.

These are custom settings that can be tweaked in several ways:

  1. by specifying them when connecting a client, for example

    clickhouse-client --os_thread_priority=19 -q 'SELECT max (number) from numbers (100000000)'
    echo 'SELECT max(number) from numbers(100000000)' | curl 'http://localhost:8123/?os_thread_priority=19' --data-binary @-
  2. via dedicated API / connection parameters in client libraries

  3. using the SQL command SET (works only within the session)

    SET os_thread_priority = 19;
    SELECT max(number) from numbers(100000000)
  4. using different profiles of settings for different users. Something like

    <?xml version="1.0"?>
        <!-- Users and ACL. -->
            <!-- If user name was not specified, 'default' user is used. -->
                <!-- Quota for user. -->

There are also plans to introduce a system of more flexible control over the assignment of resources to different requests.

Also, if these are manually created queries, then you can try to discipline users by adding quotas to them (they can be formulated as “you can read no more than 100GB of data per hour” or “no more than 10 queries”, etc.)

If these are automatically generated queries, it may make sense to check if there is no way to write them in a more efficient way.

Last modified 2022.01.03: Update high-cpu-usage.md (f8886cb)