State of the clusters: March 2022

Two months have passed since our last update on the “state of the clusters”. In our previous post I mentioned we were tracking 25 million pins on a 9-peer cluster.

Today that cluster (which stores content for has grown to 18 peers and 50 million pins. Our average usage rate keeps at around 4 new pins per second.

The new peers were added and were able to sync the cluster pinset in about 24 hours. This is a cluster with a crdt-DAG-depth 500k, which, given the multiple branches, likely involved syncing millions of CRDT-dag blocks. Because the new peers are empty and have more space that the older ones, they started storing and taking the load, relieving others as intended (older ones have up to 70TB of data pinned).

In the last version (v0.14.5), which we rolled out everywhere, we included some changes to improve performance and CRDT-DAG syncing. We have also started rebuilding older nodes with LVM-striped, XFS and flatfs/next-to-last-3 datastore layout configuration for IPFS. In our experience, XFS performs better than Ext4 for folder with large number of files, which is essentially what flatfs does. Next-to-last-3 is a sharding strategy that shards blocks over folders with 3 letters (the default is 2). By having more shards, there are less items on every folder, which is better for very large nodes.

The main issue now preventing unbounded scalability is that the huge pinset causes RAM memory spikes whenever a cluster peer needs to check that the pins that are supposed to on ipfs are actually there. This is because every item on the pinset is loaded on memory to be able to iterate on them. At this point, the memory spikes are very noticeable and steal memory which IPFS would gladly use.

The next release of IPFS Cluster will address this and other issues through a major shift on how things work internally, which will not only fix the memory spikes, but also unlock lots of performance gains when adding content to cluster peers. With these changes, IPFS Cluster will graduate to version 1.0.0, having proven its reliability and scalability properties while serving production infrastructure.