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8.10. The BLACKHOLE Storage Engine

The BLACKHOLE storage engine acts as a "black hole" that accepts data but throws it away and does not store it. Retrievals always return an empty result:

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.03 sec)
mysql> INSERT INTO test VALUES(1,'record one'),(2,'record two');
Query OK, 2 rows affected (0.00 sec)
Records: 2  Duplicates: 0  Warnings: 0

mysql> SELECT * FROM test;
Empty set (0.00 sec)

The BLACKHOLE storage engine is included in MySQL-Max binary distributions. To enable this storage engine if you build MySQL from source, invoke configure with the --with-blackhole-storage-engine option.

To examine the source for the BLACKHOLE engine, look in the sql directory of a MySQL source distribution.

When you create a BLACKHOLE table, the server creates a table format file in the database directory. The file begins with the table name and has an .frm extension. There are no other files associated with the table.

The BLACKHOLE storage engine supports all kinds of indexes. That is, you can include index declarations in the table definition.

You can check whether the BLACKHOLE storage engine is available with this statement:

mysql> SHOW VARIABLES LIKE 'have_blackhole_engine';

Inserts into a BLACKHOLE table do not store any data, but if the binary log is enabled, the SQL statements are logged (and replicated to slave servers). This can be useful as a repeater or filter mechanism. For example, suppose that your application requires slave-side filtering rules, but transferring all binary log data to the slave first results in too much traffic. In such a case, it is possible to set up on the master host a "dummy" slave process whose default storage engine is BLACKHOLE, depicted in Figure 8.1.

Figure 8.1. Replication using BLACKHOLE for filtering.

The master writes to its binary log. The "dummy" mysqld process acts as a slave, applying the desired combination of replicate-do-* and replicate-ignore-* rules, and writes a new, filtered binary log of its own. (See Section 5.9, "Replication Startup Options.") This filtered log is provided to the slave.

The dummy process does not actually store any data, so there is little processing overhead incurred by running the additional mysqld process on the replication master host. This type of setup can be repeated with additional replication slaves.

Other possible uses for the BLACKHOLE storage engine include:

  • Verification of dump file syntax.

  • Measurement of the overhead from binary logging, by comparing performance using BLACKHOLE with and without binary logging enabled.

  • BLACKHOLE is essentially a "no-op" storage engine, so it could be used for finding performance bottlenecks not related to the storage engine itself.

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