Slow etcd performance (performance testing and optimization)

Table of Contents


If your etcd logs start showing messages like the following, your storage might be too slow for etcd or the server might be doing too much for etcd to operate properly:

2019-08-11 23:27:04.344948 W | etcdserver: read-only range request "key:\"/registry/services/specs/default/kubernetes\" " with result "range_response_count:1 size:293" took too long (1.530802357s) to execute

If your storage is really slow you will even see it throwing alerts in your monitoring system. What can you do to the verify the performance of your storage? If the storage is is not performing correctly, how can you fix it? After researching this I found an IBM article that went over this extensively. Their findings on how to test were very helpful. The biggest factor is your storage latency. If it is not well below 10ms in the 99th percentile, you will see warnings in the etcd logs. We can test this with a tool called fio which I will outline below.

Testing etcd performance

  1. Download and install the latest version of fio. This is important because older versions do not provide storage latency. I have a very simple script below to download and install this.

    curl -LO

  2. Test the storage, create a directory on the device you want to test then run the fio command as shown below.

    export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH
    mkdir test-data
    fio --rw=write --ioengine=sync --fdatasync=1 --directory=test-data --size=100m --bs=2300 --name=mytest

  3. Below is an example output from an etcd,controlplane,worker node of a Rancher installation cluster running on an AWS ec2 instance type of t2.large.

    [root@ip-172-31-14-184 ~]# fio --rw=write --ioengine=sync --fdatasync=1 --directory=test-data --size=100m --bs=2300 --name=mytest
    mytest: (g=0): rw=write, bs=(R) 2300B-2300B, (W) 2300B-2300B, (T) 2300B-2300B, ioengine=sync, iodepth=1
    Starting 1 process
    mytest: Laying out IO file (1 file / 100MiB)
    Jobs: 1 (f=1): [W(1)][100.0%][w=2684KiB/s][w=1195 IOPS][eta 00m:00s]
    mytest: (groupid=0, jobs=1): err= 0: pid=21203: Sun Aug 11 23:47:30 2019
      write: IOPS=1196, BW=2687KiB/s (2752kB/s)(99.0MiB/38105msec)
        clat (nsec): min=2840, max=99026, avg=8551.56, stdev=3187.53
          lat (nsec): min=3337, max=99664, avg=9191.92, stdev=3285.92
        clat percentiles (nsec):
          |  1.00th=[ 4640],  5.00th=[ 5536], 10.00th=[ 5728], 20.00th=[ 6176],
          | 30.00th=[ 6624], 40.00th=[ 7264], 50.00th=[ 7968], 60.00th=[ 8768],
          | 70.00th=[ 9408], 80.00th=[10304], 90.00th=[11840], 95.00th=[13760],
          | 99.00th=[19328], 99.50th=[23168], 99.90th=[35584], 99.95th=[44288],
          | 99.99th=[63744]
        bw (  KiB/s): min= 2398, max= 2852, per=99.95%, avg=2685.79, stdev=104.84, samples=76
        iops        : min= 1068, max= 1270, avg=1195.96, stdev=46.66, samples=76
      lat (usec)   : 4=0.52%, 10=76.28%, 20=22.34%, 50=0.82%, 100=0.04%
        sync (usec): min=352, max=21253, avg=822.36, stdev=652.94
        sync percentiles (usec):
          |  1.00th=[  400],  5.00th=[  420], 10.00th=[  437], 20.00th=[  457],
          | 30.00th=[  478], 40.00th=[  529], 50.00th=[  906], 60.00th=[  947],
          | 70.00th=[  988], 80.00th=[ 1020], 90.00th=[ 1090], 95.00th=[ 1156],
          | 99.00th=[ 2245], 99.50th=[ 5932], 99.90th=[ 8717], 99.95th=[11600],
          | 99.99th=[16581]
      cpu          : usr=0.79%, sys=7.38%, ctx=119920, majf=0, minf=35
      IO depths    : 1=200.0%, 2=0.0%, 4=0.0%, 8=0.0%, 16=0.0%, 32=0.0%, >=64=0.0%
          submit    : 0=0.0%, 4=100.0%, 8=0.0%, 16=0.0%, 32=0.0%, 64=0.0%, >=64=0.0%
          complete  : 0=0.0%, 4=100.0%, 8=0.0%, 16=0.0%, 32=0.0%, 64=0.0%, >=64=0.0%
          issued rwts: total=0,45590,0,0 short=45590,0,0,0 dropped=0,0,0,0
          latency   : target=0, window=0, percentile=100.00%, depth=1
    Run status group 0 (all jobs):
      WRITE: bw=2687KiB/s (2752kB/s), 2687KiB/s-2687KiB/s (2752kB/s-2752kB/s), io=99.0MiB (105MB), run=38105-38105msec
    Disk stats (read/write):
      xvda: ios=0/96829, merge=0/3, ticks=0/47440, in_queue=47432, util=92.25%

In the fsync data section you can see that the 99th percentile is 2245 or about 2.2ms of latency. This storage is well suited for an etcd node. The etcd documentation suggests that for storage to be fast enough, the 99th percentile of fdatasync invocations when writing to the WAL file must be less than 10ms.


What if your node's storage isn't fast enough? The simple solution is to upgrade the storage but that isn't always an option. If you are on the cusp of acceptable, there are things you can do to optimize your storage so that etcd is happy.

  1. Don't run etcd on a node with other roles. A general rule of thumb is to never have the worker role on the same node as etcd. However many environments have etcd and controlplane roles on the same node and run just fine. If this is the case for your environment then you should consider separating etcd and controlplane nodes.

  2. If you've separated etcd and the controlplane node and are still having issues, you can mount a separate volume for etcd so that read write operations for everything else on the node do not impact etcd's performance. This is mostly applicable to Cloud hosted nodes since each volume mounted has its own allocated set of resources.

  3. If you are on a dedicated server and would like to separate etcd read write operations from the rest of the server, you should install a new storage device for etcd mounts.

  4. Always use SSD's for your etcd nodes, whether it is dedicated or in the cloud.

  5. Set the priority of the etcd container so that it is higher than other processes but not too high that it overwhelms the server.

    ionice -c2 -n0 -p `pgrep -x etcd`

Further reading

Below is a list of links that I used for my research. I highly recommend reading these as they contain more information than I've posted in this article.

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