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Scaling synapse via workers

Synapse has experimental support for splitting out functionality into multiple separate python processes, helping greatly with scalability. These processes are called 'workers', and are (eventually) intended to scale horizontally independently.

All of the below is highly experimental and subject to change as Synapse evolves, but documenting it here to help folks needing highly scalable Synapses similar to the one running matrix.org!

All processes continue to share the same database instance, and as such, workers only work with postgres based synapse deployments (sharing a single sqlite across multiple processes is a recipe for disaster, plus you should be using postgres anyway if you care about scalability).

The workers communicate with the master synapse process via a synapse-specific TCP protocol called 'replication' - analogous to MySQL or Postgres style database replication; feeding a stream of relevant data to the workers so they can be kept in sync with the main synapse process and database state.

Configuration

To make effective use of the workers, you will need to configure an HTTP reverse-proxy such as nginx or haproxy, which will direct incoming requests to the correct worker, or to the main synapse instance. Note that this includes requests made to the federation port. See reverse_proxy.rst for information on setting up a reverse proxy.

To enable workers, you need to add two replication listeners to the master synapse, e.g.:

listeners:
  # The TCP replication port
  - port: 9092
    bind_address: '127.0.0.1'
    type: replication
  # The HTTP replication port
  - port: 9093
    bind_address: '127.0.0.1'
    type: http
    resources:
     - names: [replication]

Under no circumstances should these replication API listeners be exposed to the public internet; it currently implements no authentication whatsoever and is unencrypted.

(Roughly, the TCP port is used for streaming data from the master to the workers, and the HTTP port for the workers to send data to the main synapse process.)

You then create a set of configs for the various worker processes. These should be worker configuration files, and should be stored in a dedicated subdirectory, to allow synctl to manipulate them. An additional configuration for the master synapse process will need to be created because the process will not be started automatically. That configuration should look like this:

worker_app: synapse.app.homeserver
daemonize: true

Each worker configuration file inherits the configuration of the main homeserver configuration file. You can then override configuration specific to that worker, e.g. the HTTP listener that it provides (if any); logging configuration; etc. You should minimise the number of overrides though to maintain a usable config.

You must specify the type of worker application (worker_app). The currently available worker applications are listed below. You must also specify the replication endpoints that it's talking to on the main synapse process. worker_replication_host should specify the host of the main synapse, worker_replication_port should point to the TCP replication listener port and worker_replication_http_port should point to the HTTP replication port.

Currently, the event_creator and federation_reader workers require specifying worker_replication_http_port.

For instance:

worker_app: synapse.app.synchrotron

# The replication listener on the synapse to talk to.
worker_replication_host: 127.0.0.1
worker_replication_port: 9092
worker_replication_http_port: 9093

worker_listeners:
 - type: http
   port: 8083
   resources:
     - names:
       - client

worker_daemonize: True
worker_pid_file: /home/matrix/synapse/synchrotron.pid
worker_log_config: /home/matrix/synapse/config/synchrotron_log_config.yaml

...is a full configuration for a synchrotron worker instance, which will expose a plain HTTP /sync endpoint on port 8083 separately from the /sync endpoint provided by the main synapse.

Obviously you should configure your reverse-proxy to route the relevant endpoints to the worker (localhost:8083 in the above example).

Finally, to actually run your worker-based synapse, you must pass synctl the -a commandline option to tell it to operate on all the worker configurations found in the given directory, e.g.:

synctl -a $CONFIG/workers start

Currently one should always restart all workers when restarting or upgrading synapse, unless you explicitly know it's safe not to. For instance, restarting synapse without restarting all the synchrotrons may result in broken typing notifications.

To manipulate a specific worker, you pass the -w option to synctl:

synctl -w $CONFIG/workers/synchrotron.yaml restart

Available worker applications

synapse.app.pusher

Handles sending push notifications to sygnal and email. Doesn't handle any REST endpoints itself, but you should set start_pushers: False in the shared configuration file to stop the main synapse sending these notifications.

Note this worker cannot be load-balanced: only one instance should be active.

synapse.app.synchrotron

The synchrotron handles sync requests from clients. In particular, it can handle REST endpoints matching the following regular expressions:

^/_matrix/client/(v2_alpha|r0)/sync$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|v2_alpha|r0)/events$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0)/initialSync$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0)/rooms/[^/]+/initialSync$

The above endpoints should all be routed to the synchrotron worker by the reverse-proxy configuration.

It is possible to run multiple instances of the synchrotron to scale horizontally. In this case the reverse-proxy should be configured to load-balance across the instances, though it will be more efficient if all requests from a particular user are routed to a single instance. Extracting a userid from the access token is currently left as an exercise for the reader.

synapse.app.appservice

Handles sending output traffic to Application Services. Doesn't handle any REST endpoints itself, but you should set notify_appservices: False in the shared configuration file to stop the main synapse sending these notifications.

Note this worker cannot be load-balanced: only one instance should be active.

synapse.app.federation_reader

Handles a subset of federation endpoints. In particular, it can handle REST endpoints matching the following regular expressions:

^/_matrix/federation/v1/event/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/state/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/state_ids/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/backfill/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/get_missing_events/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/publicRooms
^/_matrix/federation/v1/query/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/make_join/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/make_leave/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/send_join/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/send_leave/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/invite/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/query_auth/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/event_auth/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/exchange_third_party_invite/
^/_matrix/federation/v1/send/
^/_matrix/key/v2/query

The above endpoints should all be routed to the federation_reader worker by the reverse-proxy configuration.

The ^/_matrix/federation/v1/send/ endpoint must only be handled by a single instance.

synapse.app.federation_sender

Handles sending federation traffic to other servers. Doesn't handle any REST endpoints itself, but you should set send_federation: False in the shared configuration file to stop the main synapse sending this traffic.

Note this worker cannot be load-balanced: only one instance should be active.

synapse.app.media_repository

Handles the media repository. It can handle all endpoints starting with:

/_matrix/media/

You should also set enable_media_repo: False in the shared configuration file to stop the main synapse running background jobs related to managing the media repository.

Note this worker cannot be load-balanced: only one instance should be active.

synapse.app.client_reader

Handles client API endpoints. It can handle REST endpoints matching the following regular expressions:

^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/publicRooms$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/rooms/.*/joined_members$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/rooms/.*/context/.*$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/rooms/.*/members$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/rooms/.*/state$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/login$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/account/3pid$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/keys/query$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/keys/changes$
^/_matrix/client/versions$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/voip/turnServer$

Additionally, the following REST endpoints can be handled for GET requests:

^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/pushrules/.*$

Additionally, the following REST endpoints can be handled, but all requests must be routed to the same instance:

^/_matrix/client/(r0|unstable)/register$

synapse.app.user_dir

Handles searches in the user directory. It can handle REST endpoints matching the following regular expressions:

^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/user_directory/search$

synapse.app.frontend_proxy

Proxies some frequently-requested client endpoints to add caching and remove load from the main synapse. It can handle REST endpoints matching the following regular expressions:

^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/keys/upload

If use_presence is False in the homeserver config, it can also handle REST endpoints matching the following regular expressions:

^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/presence/[^/]+/status

This "stub" presence handler will pass through GET request but make the PUT effectively a no-op.

It will proxy any requests it cannot handle to the main synapse instance. It must therefore be configured with the location of the main instance, via the worker_main_http_uri setting in the frontend_proxy worker configuration file. For example:

worker_main_http_uri: http://127.0.0.1:8008

synapse.app.event_creator

Handles some event creation. It can handle REST endpoints matching:

^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/rooms/.*/send
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/rooms/.*/(join|invite|leave|ban|unban|kick)$
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/join/
^/_matrix/client/(api/v1|r0|unstable)/profile/

It will create events locally and then send them on to the main synapse instance to be persisted and handled.

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