Chapter 46. Performance Tuning

In this chapter we'll discuss how to tune HornetQ for optimum performance.

46.1. Tuning the journal

  • Put the journal on its own physical volume. If the disk is shared with other processes e.g. transaction co-ordinator, database or other journals which are also reading and writing from it, then this may greatly reduce performance since the disk head may be skipping all over the place between the different files. One of the advantages of an append only journal is that disk head movement is minimised - this advantage is destroyed if the disk is shared. If you're using paging or large messages make sure they're ideally put on separate volumes too.

  • Minimum number of journal files. Set journal-min-files to a number of files that would fit your average sustainable rate. If you see new files being created on the journal data directory too often, i.e. lots of data is being persisted, you need to increase the minimal number of files, this way the journal would reuse more files instead of creating new data files.

  • Journal file size. The journal file size should be aligned to the capacity of a cylinder on the disk. The default value 10MiB should be enough on most systems.

  • Use AIO journal. If using Linux, try to keep your journal type as AIO. AIO will scale better than Java NIO.

  • journal-aio-flush-on-sync. If you don't have many producers in your system you may consider setting journal-aio-flush-on-sync to true. HornetQ by default is optimized by the case where you have many producers. We try to combine multiple writes in a single OS operation. However if that's not your case setting this option to true will give you a performance boost.

    On the other hand when you have multiple producers, keeping journal-aio-flush-on-sync set to false. This will make your system flush multiple syncs in a single OS call making your system scale much better.

46.2. Tuning JMS

There are a few areas where some tweaks can be done if you are using the JMS API

  • Disable message id. Use the setDisableMessageID() method on the MessageProducer class to disable message ids if you don't need them. This decreases the size of the message and also avoids the overhead of creating a unique ID.

  • Disable message timestamp. Use the setDisableMessageTimeStamp() method on the MessageProducer class to disable message timestamps if you don't need them. Again this makes the message smaller.

  • Avoid ObjectMessage. ObjectMessage is convenient but it comes at a cost. The body of a ObjectMessage uses Java serialization to serialize it to bytes. The Java serialized form of even small objects is very verbose so takes up a lot of space on the wire, also Java serialization is slow compared to customer marshalling techniques. Only use ObjectMessage if you really can't use one of the other message types, i.e. if you really don't know the type of the payload until run-time.

  • Avoid AUTO_ACKNOWLEDGE. AUTO_ACKNOWLEDGE mode requires an acknowledgement to be sent from the server for each message received on the client, this means more traffic on the network. If you can, use DUPS_OK_ACKNOWLEDGE or use CLIENT_ACKNOWLEDGE or a transacted session and batch up many acknowledgements with one acknowledge/commit.

  • Avoid persistent messages. By default JMS messages are persistent. If you don't really need persistent messages then set them to be non persistent. Persistent messages incur a lot more overhead in persisting them to storage.

46.3. Other Tunings

There are various other places in HornetQ where we can perform some tuning:

  • Use Asynchronous Send Acknowledgements. If you need to send persistent messages non transactionally and you need a guarantee that they have reached the server by the time the call to send() returns, don't set persistent messages to be sent blocking, instead use asynchronous send acknowledgements to get your acknowledgements of send back in a separate stream, see Chapter 21, Guarantees of sends and commits for more information on this.

  • Use pre-acknowledge mode. With pre-acknowledge mode, messages are acknowledged before they are sent to the client. This reduces the amount of acknowledgment traffic on the wire. For more information on this, see Chapter 30, Pre-Acknowledge Mode.

  • Disable security. You may get a small performance boost by disabling security by setting the security-enabled parameter to false in hornetq-configuration.xml.

  • Disable persistence. If you don't need message persistence, turn it off altogether by setting persistence-enabled to false in hornetq-configuration.xml.

  • Sync transactions lazily. Setting journal-sync-transactional to false in hornetq-configuration.xml can give you better transactional persistent performance at the expense of some possibility of loss of transactions on failure. See Chapter 21, Guarantees of sends and commits for more information.

  • Use the core API not JMS. Using the JMS API you will have slightly lower performance than using the core API, since all JMS operations need to be translated into core operations before the server can handle them.

46.4. Tuning Transport Settings

  • Enable Nagle's algorithm. If you are sending many small messages, such that more than one can fit in a single IP packet thus providing better performance. This is done by setting hornetq.remoting.netty.tcpnodelay to false with the Netty transports. See Chapter 16, Configuring the Transport for more information on this.

  • TCP buffer sizes. If you have a fast network and fast machines you may get a performance boost by increasing the TCP send and receive buffer sizes. See the Chapter 16, Configuring the Transport for more information on this.

  • Increase limit on file handles on the server. If you expect a lot of concurrent connections on your servers, or if clients are rapidly opening and closing connections, you should make sure the user running the server has permission to create sufficient file handles.

    This varies from operating system to operating system. On Linux systems you can increase the number of allowable open file handles in the file /etc/security/limits.conf e.g. add the lines

    serveruser     soft    nofile  20000
    serveruser     hard    nofile  20000                   

    This would allow up to 20000 file handles to be open by the user serveruser.

46.5. Tuning the VM

We highly recommend you use the latest Java 6 JVM, especially in the area of networking, many improvements have been made since Java 5. We test internally using the Sun JVM, so some of these tunings won't apply to JDKs from other providers (e.g. IBM or JRockit)

  • Garbage collection. For smooth server operation we recommend using a parallel garbage collection algorithm, e.g. using the JVM argument -XX:+UseParallelGC on Sun JDKs.

  • Memory settings. Give as much memory as you can to the server. HornetQ can run in low memory by using paging (described in Chapter 25, Paging) but if it can run with all queues in RAM this will improve performance. The amount of memory you require will depend on the size and number of your queues and the size and number of your messages. Use the JVM arguments -Xms and -Xmx to set server available RAM. We recommend setting them to the same high value.

  • Aggressive options. Different JVMs provide different sets of JVM tuning parameters, for the Sun Hotspot JVM the full list of options is available here. We recommend at least using -XX:+AggressiveOpts and -XX:+UseFastAccessorMethods. You may get some mileage with the other tuning parameters depending on your OS platform and application usage patterns.

46.6. Avoiding Anti-Patterns

  • Re-use connections / sessions / consumers / producers. Probably the most common messaging anti-pattern we see is users who create a new connection/session/producer for every message they send or every message they consume. This is a poor use of resources. These objects take time to create and may involve several network round trips. Always re-use them.


    Some popular libraries such as the Spring JMS Template are known to use these anti-patterns. If you're using Spring JMS Template and you're getting poor performance you know why. Don't blame HornetQ!

  • Avoid fat messages. Verbose formats such as XML take up a lot of space on the wire and performance will suffer as result. Avoid XML in message bodies if you can.

  • Avoid many selectors on a queue. Another common anti-pattern is a single queue which has many consumers, each one with a distinct message selector. As messages come into the queue they will typically only match one of the consumers. This does not normally give good performance since as new consumers are added the entire queue has to be scanned for matching messages.

    This anti-pattern can normally be avoided by instead using a topic with many durable subscriptions, each subscription defines a message selector. With topic subscriptions the selector expression is evaluated by HornetQ before the message goes into the subscription, so no scanning is involved.

  • Don't create temporary queues for each request. This common anti-pattern involves the temporary queue request-response pattern. With the temporary queue request-response pattern a message is sent to a target and a reply-to header is set with the address of a local temporary queue. When the recipient receives the message they process it then send back a response to the address specified in the reply-to. A common mistake made with this pattern is to create a new temporary queue on each message sent. This will drastically reduce performance. Instead the temporary queue should be re-used for many requests.

  • Don't use Mesage Driven Beans for the sake of it. As soon as you start using MDBs you are greatly increasing the codepath for each message received compared to a straightforward message consumer, since a lot of extra application server code is executed. Ask yourself do you really need MDBs? Can you accomplish the same task using just a normal message consumer?