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ZODB Benchmarks revisited

by Roché Compaan posted on Mar 04, 2008 04:04 PM last modified Mar 04, 2008 09:37 PM —

The truth is that the ZODB is faster than your RDBMS.

My previous post about ZODB benchmarks incorrectly confirmed the general opinion people had of the ZODB which is that it is not very fast when you want to insert millions of objects into it. Many developers will tell you, the ZODB is a low-write high-read database. Many more developers will reduce this to a slating "the ZODB is slow".

Fortunately this is not true! I overlooked a basic thing when I compared ZODB performance with Postgres. I only realised that the Postgres table did not have an index on the key field when I started testing lookup speed. After adding the index I neglected to re-run the insertion test on Postgres. I realised this soon after I wrote up my findings and ran the test again. Adding the index causes the insertion on Postgres to drop logarithmically at a higher rate than the ZODB.


For the most part of the test, insertion is faster in the ZODB than in Postgres. Wow, I didn't expect that! I don't know about you but this is a very comforting result for me.

There was a bug in my lookup test as well. After fixing this bug the times for lookups were looking a lot better:

Number of Objects
Average Lookup Time in Seconds
100000 0.00000311
1000000 0.00000648
10000000 0.00230820

From the above table it is clear that lookups on a BTree with 10 million objects is very fast at around 2 milliseconds. On a Postgres table with 10 million records the average lookup time was 14 milliseconds.

It wasn't my original goal to compare the ZODB with Postgres - I simply used Postgres as a reference point. I do think that the comparison was necessary to "fix" the perception people have of the ZODB. I love the ZODB and were looking really hard for reasons to justify my extensive use of it but benchmarks weren't available. Nevertheless, this is just a starting point. The tests are still very superficial, almost deliberately so since it allows one to compare apples with apples. I think applications like Zope and Plone generally do a lot more with the ZODB than what an RDMBS allows. I mean, of how many systems have you heard that has per-object security and indexed meta data for the majority of the content. I think it would be worthwhile to start quantifying how many objects are modified with common actions in Zope and Plone in a single transaction. This should give us an appreciation of how hard the ZODB is working. Our work is not done.