Speeding up Celery Backends, Part 1

Posted by Alexander Todorov on Wed 05 November 2014

I'm working on an application which fires a lot of Celery tasks - the more the better! Unfortunately Celery backends seem to be rather slow :(. Using the celery_load_test.py command for Django I was able to capture some metrics:

  • Amazon SQS backend: 2 or 3 tasks/sec
  • Filesystem backend: 2000 - 2500 tasks/sec
  • Memory backend: around 3000 tasks/sec

Not bad but I need in the order of 10000 tasks created per sec! The other noticeable thing is that memory backend isn't much faster compared to the filesystem one! NB: all of these backends actually come from the kombu package.

Why is Celery slow ?

Using celery_load_test.py together with cProfile I was able to pin-point some problematic areas:

  • kombu/transports/virtual/__init__.py: class Channel.basic_publish() - does self.encode_body() into base64 encoded string. Fixed with custom transport backend I called fastmemory which redefines the body_encoding property:

    def body_encoding(self):
        return None
  • Celery uses json or pickle (or other) serializers to serialize the data. While json yields between 2000-3000 tasks/sec, pickle does around 3500 tasks/sec. Replacing with a custom serializer which just returns the objects (since we read/write from/to memory) yields about 4000 tasks/sec tops:

    from kombu.serialization import register
    def loads(s):
        return s
    def dumps(s):
        return s
    register('mem_serializer', dumps, loads,
  • kombu/utils/__init__.py: def uuid() - generates random unique identifiers which is a slow operation. Replacing it with return "00000000" boosts performance to 7000 tasks/sec.

It's clear that a constant UUID is not of any practical use but serves well to illustrate how much does this function affect performance.

Note: Subsequent executions of celery_load_test seem to report degraded performance even with the most optimized transport backend. I'm not sure why is this. One possibility is the random UUID usage in other parts of the Celery/Kombu stack which drains entropy on the system and generating more random numbers becomes slower. If you know better please tell me!

I will be looking for a better understanding of these IDs in Celery and hope to be able to produce a faster uuid() function. Then I'll be exploring the transport stack even more in order to reach the goal of 10000 tasks/sec. If you have any suggestions or pointers please share them in the comments.

tags: Python, Django, QA

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