1 2 Previous Next 17 Replies Latest reply on May 14, 2015 11:24 AM by Matt Coles

    Number of Backgrounders

    shawn harvick

      According to diagrams on the Improve Server Performance page the number of backgrounders should be "Number of Cores / 4" or "Number of Cores / 2".  In dealing with a worker that is dedicated strictly to background tasks, has anyone pushed a worker to N/1?  Is it possible / efficient to put 8 backgrounders on a 6 core machine?




        • 1. Re: Number of Backgrounders
          Jeff Strauss

          the best way to see what happens is to try it and watch the perfmon metrics.  I don't think that Tableau software will constrain you, but it's more directly related to how many parallel backgrounders can run prior to your cpu or memory maxing out.

          • 2. Re: Number of Backgrounders
            Toby Erkson

            shawn harvick wrote:


            1. In dealing with a worker that is dedicated strictly to background tasks, has anyone pushed a worker to N/1? 
            2. Is it possible / efficient to put 8 backgrounders on a 6 core machine?


            1.  I haven't.

            2.  No idea, try it and let us know   If possible I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be efficient.  I wonder if Server has built-in checking to make sure the processes don't outnumber the cores?


            Why do you ask?

            • 3. Re: Number of Backgrounders
              shawn harvick

              Hi Toby,


              We are in the midst of trying out an additional 8 cores bringing us to 16 cores.  Part of this is trying different configurations over a 45 day period to see what works best and what our options are.  We are extract and view heavy with a need for HA. 



              • 4. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                shawn harvick

                Thanks Jeffrey!  I may stick with 6 cores 6 backgrounders and see how it goes.  My gut tells me that exceeding the number in cores in number of backgrounders won't be pretty.

                • 5. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                  Jeff Strauss

                  ok, let us know how it goes.

                  • 6. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                    Ken Patton

                    There's a lot of "it depends" in there. For example it depends on how much Refresh activity is configured on the system, and how "spaced out" the Scheduled Tasks are.  If you have a fairly small number of Tasks evenly distributed throughout the day, you'd need fewer Backgrounders versus if you have a mountain of Tasks all firing off at once.


                    Certainly if you can dedicate a Worker to just Backgrounders and you have the licensing capacity, then adding more Backgrounders in theory can't hurt. But there should certainly be some sort of threshold at which more Backgrounders either stops helping, or consumes system resources that don't need to get consumed.

                    • 7. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                      Sunil Tikar

                      Hi Shawn


                      I have tried this , I have 4 cores and configured 6 BG services on this worker ,It ran fine sometime but sometimes in morning I got failure on extract refreshes. .now again go back to 4 BG services .


                      Below is the older configuration which caused extract failure issue on mornings . (its like twice in a week )




                      And last night only we have changed it to 4 BG services like below


                      new config.jpg


                      Per my experience N/1 is not efficient.

                      • 8. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                        Ken Patton

                        Hi Sunil -- not sure I 100% agree, as, again, there is a lot of "it depends".  I run a fairly massive environment (hundreds of Scheduled Refresh tasks) with just 3 backgrounders.  There are trade-offs that one has to make. More is not automatically better, and I am very surprised by the statement that N/1 is not sufficient, because that is certainly not what Tableau itself says about the matter.

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                        • 9. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                          Matt Coles

                          Here at Tableau we are currently running 10 background tasks on each of our two dedicated 16-core backgrounder hosts. Primarily, increasing past 8 was intended to reducing subscription delays--subscriptions don't use up nearly as much CPU as refreshing extracts does, and we needed more throughput for the 6AM schedule, which sends hundreds of subscriptions out every day. We regularly max out our backgrounders with extract refreshes alone, and we have not seen failures due to lack of CPU resources. These are pretty beefy Dell 620s though, with 96 GB RAM, and SSDs for storage.

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                          • 10. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                            Ken Patton

                            Thanks Matt.  Do you think that the optimal number of backgrounders is somewhat context-sensitive (like you mention the 6:00 AM schedule), or do you prefer to go to a hard equation like N /1 or   ((3 *N( / 2 * Cores))  or suchlike?

                            • 11. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                              Matt Coles

                              For us at least, if we have a host dedicated to nothing but backgrounders, the only real risk of overloading it seems to be a reduction in efficiency. So we've been relatively unafraid to throw some punishment on those boxes in our various Server implementations, and it hasn't bitten us so far. The one minor annoyance is that if you increase past 8, you get the nags whenever you save the config that tell you you're not supposed to do it.


                              But I haven't done any testing on how efficient extracts are when you've overloaded the box with them, versus keeping with the recommended number of Backgrounders per core. So I can't say what you might suffer in terms of increased delay, if you're saturating your box with parallel extract refreshes. To me, it seems like a low-risk test to increase it, and see what it does to refresh durations. But there is definitely a benefit if you're running multiple Subscriptions schedules at the same time, and need them to complete more quickly.


                              So to answer your question, no, I don't like to go with a hard equation. Primary factor is "did you isolate Backgrounders to one host responsible for nothing else?" If not, I'd be very hesitant to put much work to them during business hours when users are active. If so, you have some freedom to play around.

                              • 12. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                                Ken Patton

                                Okay thanks. It's also fair to say that you might not have Licensing limitations like we customers have.

                                • 13. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                                  Matt Coles

                                  It is very fair to say so, actually, and while I am very proud of how well we "dogfood" our own products, I am also painfully aware that we do not do so in that area--but would very much like us to start.

                                  • 14. Re: Number of Backgrounders
                                    Ken Patton

                                    No worries -- was not meant as a criticism (after all, I get a fairly nice discount on networking and communications equipment where I am ) .


                                    I only brought it up because one of the other factors in deciding how many instances of each Tableau Server process to configure involves having a finite bound imposed by the License.  No free lunch. So going overboard on one process type might starve another. That's all.

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