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Remove 512 MB max value limit #757

antirez opened this Issue · 4 comments

4 participants


Currently the Redis string type and the protocol itself are limited to max string length of 512 MB.

Actually the internal limit of an sds.c string, that is the dynamic string abstraction used inside Redis, is 2GB (as the string header represents length and remaining space as a signed 32 bit integers), but at some point we decided to reduce it to 512 MB since it's a large enough value anyway, and a 32 bit integer can address every bit inside a 512 MB value, that was handy for bit operations.

However while the limit so far was never a practical problem, there is a new interesting issue about the MIGRATE, DUMP and RESTORE commands that are used in order to serialize / unserialize or atomically transfer Redis keys. It is perfectly valid for a Redis key to have a serialization blob that exceeds the 512 MB limit, while it is not common as the serialization format is very compact (for instance a 1 million elements list of small strings is serialized into a 7 MB blob).

This means that with the current limit we can't MIGRATE very very large keys, and is surely a problem for certain applications (actually Redis cluster is not the best bet if you have many million elements keys as migration can be slow).

It is certainly possible to easily remove the 512 MB limit by using 64 bit integers in sds.c string headers and removing the limits inside the bulk parsing code. The problems with this approach are:

  • There is no longer a protection against client errors that will output a nonsensical bulk length and will fill the server with data. But after all, how to avoid this in general terms, clients can do a lot of silly things against a Redis server? So it's not a big issue.
  • Every string value will use additional 8 bytes.
  • We need to adapt the api of bit operations to accept 64 bit offsets, this is trivial since we already handle 64 bit values very well internally.

So long story short the real tradeoff is the additional memory usage. The plan is:

  • Experiment with large keys to see how large a key is supposed to be to serialize in > 512 MB.
  • Experiment with credible datasets to see how the 8 bit overhead affects normal applications in terms of total memory usage hint in percentage.
  • Decide if it's wise to take the limit or to remove it.

But in general, limits suck.

For instance there was an AOF issue, and there is currently an unsolved redis-cli issue that result form the sds.c 2 GB limit. My vote for now is to remove the limit and pay the 8 bytes overhead, but more testing will provide more data points to better evaluate.


I have a question. if the limitation is removed, maybe it can affect lower performance? if someone try get or set values more than 512MB?



I believe in the Unix philosophy and giving the user enough rope to hang himself; so please, let's remove this limit, however make it visible enough for potential users and people upgrading to this feature. Otherwise you could reap all sorts of new funny bug reports from users hanging themselves. Make it backwards compatible for smooth upgrade paths of people with important large-scale implementations, so you'll have more early adopters.

I'm in a project where we're working on some sort of redis filesystem using FUSE and given some design considerations in the future, lifting this 512MB limit could prove to be a valuable asset. So, holler as soon as you have a first implementation ready to test (which probably means by next weekend :)).


There are definitely no performance concerns if we just remove the limit the vanilla way.


  • We could use a double-header with a flag, so that small strings will not pay the additional memory cost. This adds complexity and CPU time, it's not worth it probably... but is an option.
  • We can switch to uint32_t and live with a 4GB limit that is 8 times larger than the current one, but my feeling is that 4GB will be still an issue for some corner case huge key.

Well we have a couple of options fortunately and there is no need to pick the best one right now, some time will help as usually :-)


I brought the up with Pieter at RedisConf (among other topics):

What if strings were pre-sharded if they were beyond a specific size? Instead of storing it all as a single allocation, break it up into blocks, and access the blocks via a hash table.

  • No need to clear the entire space of the string initialization, only un-initialized portions of a block being written to
  • No real need to worry about switching to full 32 bit/64 bit in SDS (because your block size can be arbitrarily sized from 4k to 256k, 1M, etc., without serious issue)
  • Blocks that haven't been written to take up no memory
  • Overhead can be tuned based on block size


  • Additional complexity
  • Small slowdown with bitop/bitcount and getrange (adjacent blocks are no longer adjacent in memory)
  • Small slowdown with read/write on sharded strings (it is an additional hash-table lookup)
@bwlewis bwlewis referenced this issue in bwlewis/rredis

storing large objects #6

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