Async Commit (initial design)

This document is focussed on the initial increments of work to implement a correct, but non-performant version of async commit.

Implementation is tracked in issue 36.


  • Reduce latency of transactions by moving a round trip from client to server from before reporting success to the user to after reporting success to the user.
  • Not to significantly reduce throughput or increase latency of reads or prewrite.

Requirements and constraints

  • Preserve existing SI, linearizability, and RC properties of transactions.
  • TiDB can report success to the user after all prewrites succeed; before sending further messages to TiKV.
  • Backwards compatible
    • Existing data should still be usable (including transient data such as locks)
    • We can assume that all TiKV nodes will be updated before any TiDB nodes (and before async commit is enabled)
    • Old and new TiKV nodes may exist in the same cluster

Known issues and solutions

Please see this doc.



  • The user should opt-in to parallel commit; we assume the user has opted in for all nodes for the rest of this document.
  • Each prewrite response will include a min_commit_ts, TiDB will select the largest min_commit_ts as the final commit_ts for the transaction.
  • TiDB can return success to the client before sending the commit message but after receiving success responses for all prewrite messages.
  • If an operation fails because it is locked, TiDB must query the primary lock to find a list of secondaries (a CheckTxnStatus request). It will then send a CheckSecondaryLocks request to each region to get all secondary locks and the min_commit_ts in those locks. If all locks in a success state, it can send the commit message as above. If any lock is not present or rolled back, then the transaction should be rolled back.


  • The information stored with each primary key lock should include all keys locked by the transaction and their status.
  • When a prewrite is received, lock the keys with a preliminary ts of the start ts. Query PD for a timestamp, this is returned to TiDB as the min_commit_ts and stored in the lock data for the primary key.
  • When a read is woken up, ensure we check the commit ts, since we might want the old value (I think we do this anyway).
  • Handling a CheckSecondaryLocks message means checking each specified lock, returning min_commit_ts if the lock is in a success state and rolling back the lock if not (including leaving a rollback tombstone).

Protobuf changes

See kvproto/637 and kvproto/651.

Evolution to long term solution

The framework of parallel commit will be in place at the end of the first iteration. In a later iteration we should improve the temporary locking mechanism, See for possible improvements.

Open questions

  • There is a problem if the commit_ts calculated during a resolve lock is > pd’s latest ts + 1, that is separate from the problem of non-unique timestamps (but has the same root cause). (#21)
  • Replica read. (#20)
  • Interaction with CDC. (#19)
  • Interaction with binlog. (#19)
  • Missing schema check in TiDB on commit.
  • Interaction with large transactions (there should be no problem, we must ensure that other transactions don't push a async commit transaction's commit_ts).
  • Heartbeats for keeping async commit transactions alive.



  • TiDB should choose whether or not to use async commit based on the size of the transaction


  • When using a preliminary lock, try to wake up reader when we have a commit ts.
  • Use a memlock rather than writing a preliminary lock

Refinement 1

  • For each node, store a local_ts (aka max_ts), this is the largest ts seen by the node or issued by the node + 1. It could be kept per-region if there is lots of contention, but since it a fairly simple lock-free (but not wait-free) update, I would not expect it to be too bad.
    • Note that this is basically a Lamport Clock version of the timestamp, i.e., it is an approximation to PD's current TS.
  • TiDB fetches a timestamp from PD for all prewrites (min_commit_ts). TiKV compares min_commit_ts to local_ts, if local_ts is greater than min_commit_ts, it must fetch a new timestamp from PD, otherwise it can reuse min_commit_ts.

Refinement 2

  • Use the local_ts as the min_commit_ts.
  • Note that this scheme causes duplicate time stamps, and requires one of the proposed solutions.

Refinement 3


If there is just a single prewrite then TiDB can set a flag on the request, then TiKV can just use the min_commit_ts as the commit_ts and commit the transaction without TiDB sending the final commit message (or taking the risk of )

max_read_ts approach

The coarsest granularity is to maintain max_read_ts and min_commit_ts per region.

The per-range approach:

  • For each region, store in memory (note this general mechanism should be abstracted using a trait so it can be easily upgraded to per-key or other form of locking):
    • A structure of min_commit_tss, a map from each in-progress transaction to the minimum ts at which it may be committed.
    • max_read_ts: the largest start_ts for any transactional read operation for the region (i.e., this value is potentially set on every read).
    • When a TiKV node is started up or becomes leader, max_read_ts is initialised from PD with a new timestamp.
    • When a prewrite is processed, TiKV records the current max_read_ts + 1 as the min_commit_ts for that transaction. min_commit_ts is recorded in each key's lock data structure.
    • When a prewrite is finished, its entry is removed from the min_commit_ts structure. If the prewrite is successful, the min_commit_ts is returned to TiDB in the response.
    • When a read is processed, first it sets the max_read_ts, then it checks its start_ts against the smallest min_commit_ts of any current transaction in the read range. It will block until its start_ts >= min(min_commit_ts)
  • Use Mutex<Timestamp> for max_read_ts

Further refinement:

  • Per-key, rather than per-region, min_commit_ts and max_read_ts
  • Lock-free max_read_ts rather than using a mutex.
Handling non-unique timestamps

See for discussion.

There is a possibility of two transactions having the same commit_ts, or of one transaction’s start_ts to be equal to the other’s commit_ts. We believe conflicts in the write CF between two commits are not possible. However, if one transaction's start_ts is another's commit_ts then rolling back the first transaction would collide with committing the second. We believe this isn't too serious an issue, but we will need to find a backwards compatible change to the write CF format. We do not know if there are problems due to non-unique timestamps besides the conflict in write CF.



The following people are available for work on this project (as of 2020-06-15):

  • Zhenjing (@MyonKeminta): minimal time until CDC project is complete
  • Zhaolei (@youjiali1995): review + minimal time
  • Nick (@nrc): approximately full time
  • Yilin (@sticnarf): approximately 1/2 time
  • Fangsong (@longfangsong): approximately full time after apx one month (although work to be finalised)
  • Rui Xu (@cfzjywxk): apx 1/3 initially

RACI roles:

  • Responsible:
    • Nick
    • Rui Xu
    • Yilin
  • Accountable: Rui Xu
  • Consulted:
    • Zhenjing
    • Zhaolei
  • Informed:
    • Liu Wei
    • Liqi
    • Evan Zhou
    • #sig-transaction
    • this month in TiKV