Is memcached really faster than MySQL on very simple query?

Steven Grimm sgrimm at
Fri Jul 14 03:29:57 UTC 2006

Paul T wrote:
> From what I saw on this list, Facebook had to patch
> memcached to switch to UDP to handle 20K hps (but I
> dunno what are their 'values'. I assume they are
> marshalling the 'typical' memcached  payload 10-50K(?)
> My 20-40K are for tiny payload < 512 bytes. ( It is
> also funny to talk in this kind of numbers ignoring
> the hardware and the OS version, but still ... better
> than having no numbers at all, I guess. )

Just to set the record straight, our UDP work was not about hit rate. It 
was about reducing the total number of connections to memcached. Our 
memcached can handle about the same number of hits per second over UDP 
as it can over TCP.

Also, we don't use UDP exclusively. Our client switches to temporary TCP 
connections for cache writes (where you want reliability) and for gets 
of large numbers of keys (where the expected return value would span 
many UDP packets and would thus be especially sensitive to packet loss.)

But as a practical matter we mostly use UDP -- our traffic is very 
get-heavy and the vast majority of our gets are small enough to not 
trigger a switch to TCP.

> I think that Facebook did 'the righ thing' going UDP ,
> but  there are some other reasons to stay with TCP ...

We've been generally happy with it, but with the caveat that it makes us 
extremely sensitive to network flakiness -- if one of our switches 
starts acting up we find out about it fast in the form of increased 
database load. But our operations people keep a close eye on our 
network's health and we typically see no more than 3 or 4 dropped UDP 
memcached packets per day out of many billions of requests. I would not 
recommend it for people who don't have extremely high confidence in the 
quality of their internal networks.


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