When is memory allocated in PostgreSQL?

In PostgreSQL, memory allocation occurs at various stages during the execution of queries and other database operations. Here are some key points where memory is allocated in PostgreSQL:

  1. Connection Establishment:
    • When a client establishes a connection to the PostgreSQL server, a certain amount of memory is allocated to manage the connection and associated resources.
    • This includes memory for managing session state, query processing, and connection-specific data structures.
  2. Parsing and Planning:
    • When a SQL statement is parsed and analyzed, PostgreSQL allocates memory to construct the internal representation of the query, known as the parse tree or query tree.
    • Memory is also allocated during the planning phase to generate an execution plan for the query.
  3. Execution Plan:
    • Once the query has been planned, PostgreSQL allocates memory to store the execution plan, which consists of various data structures and buffers.
    • This includes memory for storing join plans, sort plans, index scans, and other operations required to execute the query.
  4. Query Execution:
    • During query execution, memory is allocated for intermediate result sets, temporary tables, sorting operations, and other processing tasks.
    • Memory may also be allocated for caching frequently accessed data or maintaining data structures for query optimization purposes.
  5. Result Sets:
    • When query results are generated, PostgreSQL allocates memory to hold the result set.
    • The size of the result set depends on the number of rows returned and the size of the data being returned.
  6. Background Processes:
    • PostgreSQL employs various background processes, such as autovacuum, that perform maintenance tasks and manage system resources.
    • These background processes also require memory for their operation and may allocate memory as needed.
  7. Buffer Cache:
    • PostgreSQL maintains a buffer cache, which is a portion of memory used to cache frequently accessed data pages from disk.
    • Memory is allocated to store the buffered data pages, reducing the need for frequent disk I/O.

It’s important to note that memory allocation in PostgreSQL is dynamic and depends on the specific workload, query complexity, system configuration, and available resources. PostgreSQL manages memory efficiently by utilizing memory pools and releasing memory when it is no longer needed. The configuration parameters such as shared_buffers, work_mem, and maintenance_work_mem play a crucial role in determining the overall memory usage and allocation strategy.

Monitoring memory usage and optimizing PostgreSQL’s configuration parameters can help ensure efficient memory utilization and avoid issues such as excessive memory consumption or out-of-memory errors.

About Shiv Iyer 455 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.