Vectorized Query Execution

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CockroachDB supports column-oriented ("vectorized") query execution on all CockroachDB data types.

Many SQL databases execute query plans one row of table data at a time. Row-oriented execution models can offer good performance for online transaction processing (OLTP) queries, but suboptimal performance for online analytical processing (OLAP) queries. The CockroachDB vectorized execution engine dramatically improves performance over row-oriented execution by processing each component of a query plan on type-specific batches of column data.

Configure vectorized execution

By default, vectorized execution is enabled in CockroachDB.

You can configure vectorized execution with the vectorize session variable. The following options are supported:

Option Description
on Turns on vectorized execution for all queries.

Default: vectorize=on
off Turns off vectorized execution for all queries.

For information about setting session variables, see SET {session variable}.


To see if CockroachDB will use the vectorized execution engine for a query, run a simple EXPLAIN statement on the query. If vectorize is true, the query will be executed with the vectorized engine. If it is false, the row-oriented execution engine is used instead.

How vectorized execution works

When you issue a query, the gateway node (i.e., the node from which you issue the query) parses the query and creates a physical plan for execution on each node that receives the plan. If vectorized execution is enabled, the physical plan is sent to each node to be executed by the vectorized execution engine.

To see a detailed view of the vectorized execution plan for a query, run the EXPLAIN(VEC) statement on the query.

For information about vectorized execution in the context of the CockroachDB architecture, see Query Execution.

For detailed examples of vectorized query execution for hash and merge joins, see the blog posts 40x faster hash joiner with vectorized execution and Vectorizing the merge joiner in CockroachDB.

Disk-spilling operations

The following disk-spilling operations require memory buffering during execution. If there is not enough memory allocated for a disk-spilling operation, CockroachDB will spill the intermediate execution results to disk.

By default, the memory limit allocated per disk-spilling operation is 64MiB. This limit applies to a single operation within a single query, and is configured with the sql.distsql.temp_storage.workmem cluster setting.

To increase the limit, change the cluster setting:

SET CLUSTER SETTING sql.distsql.temp_storage.workmem = '100MiB';

Operations that do not support disk spilling ignore the sql.distsql.temp_storage.workmem limit.

The --max-disk-temp-storage flag sets the maximum on-disk storage capacity for disk spilling. If the maximum on-disk storage capacity is reached, the query will return an error during execution.

You can also configure a node's total budget for in-memory query processing with the --max-sql-memory flag at node startup. This limit applies globally to all sessions at any point in time. When this limit is exceeded by an operation, it will result in an error instead of spilling to disk. For more details on --max-sql-memory, see Cache and SQL memory size.

Known limitations

Unsupported queries

The vectorized engine does not support queries containing:

Spatial features

The vectorized engine does not support working with spatial data. Queries with geospatial functions or spatial data will revert to the row-oriented execution engine.

See also

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