State of the clusters: January 2022

Today, we would like to provide a few details and figures on where we are with regards to cluster scalability, particularly as ensuring IPFS storage allocation and replication behind the platform.

We have started 2022 with a new release (v0.14.4). A few months ago, we were happy to report that we were tracking around 2 million pins.

Today, cluster is tracking over 25 million pins for in a single cluster, made of 9 peers with around 85TB of storage each running go-ipfs v0.12.0-rc1. On average, we are ingesting more than 4 items per second (normally add-requests that put the content directly on the cluster). We know we can take many hundreds of pins per second when needed.

These numbers are not overly impressive when compared with, for example a PostgreSQL instance for pinset tracking, but we understand cluster as a distributed application with seamless pinset syncing which also supports things like follower-clusters and scalability to hundreds of peers based on its pubsub+crdt pinset distribution mechanisms.

In terms of configuration, we have set the cluster peer to let IPFS pin up to 8 items in parallel. This is what we found was a well-performing value when going through pinning queues of several million items. Bitswap performance, disk usage, network bandwidth all affect the right values. The cluster-peers are configured using the crdt consensus mode, with replication factors set to 3. Each node is tagged with a datacenter tag, and the allocator is set to allocate per datacenter and free-space. Thus, we get global distribution of every pin, which are then allocated to the peers with most free space in each DC. We make use of the crdt-batching function, creating commits every 300 items or 10 seconds (although we tune them as we need, sometimes increasing the batch size or delay). For reference, one batch (crdt-delta) can fit almost 4000 pins with 3 allocations (actual number depends on the pin options and allocations).

The 20x pinset growth in the last few months has necessarily been accompanied by several releases to get IPFS Cluster up to the task of handling multi-million setups:

  • The cluster-peer datastore can be setup with LevelDB and Badger, and the latter is GC’ed regularly so that it does not grow to take too much space per pin.
  • We heavily sped up operations reading the full pinset (pin ls or status). For example, it is now very efficient to check all the pins in error or queued states because filtering has been improved. Listing all pins in the state has improved an order of magnitude.
  • State export and import functions have also been improved to allow for cluster pinsets to be moved around (to new clusters), which facilitates maintenance, for example by setting new allocations for pins.

The next steps are to keep iterating towards supporting much larger pinsets. One of the improvements in the pipeline will be streaming-RPC support (cluster components communicate via RPC). This will allow us to speed up many operations, such as listing or adding to the cluster.