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Performance Improvements in RDF4J 3.2

by Håvard M. Ottestad , Jeen Broekstra

Sun, Jun 14, 2020

The release of RDF4J 3.2.0 introduced a large number of performance improvements to the framework.

One major change was the introduction of a new Model implementation, the DynamicModel, and switching to this new model implementation throughout major parts of the code base. The advantage of the DynamicModel over other implementations is that it uses a very light-weight internal datastructure initially, only converting to a more heavily indexed form when necessary to answer particular queries. It can avoid this upgrade, however, for many use cases where we are adding or removing data, iterating over all data, or checking for the existence of a triple.

Since such simple interaction is a common pattern in transaction handling, the DynamicModel has a large effect on the transaction isolation overhead in the MemoryStore. Typical transaction isolation added roughly 100% overhead when adding data to the store, with the introduction of the DynamicModel this has been reduced to 25%, as long as there are no queries that cause the DynamicModel to upgrade to a full LinkedHashModel.

When compared to the latest 3.1 release, refinements to how connection.remove(...) executes on the MemoryStore makes it 40% faster for bulk transactions (IsolationLevels.NONE) and up to 8 times faster for higher transaction levels. These changes were already introduced to the NativeStore in 3.1.0 which at the time made connection.remove(...) approximately 14 times faster when using IsolationLevels.NONE.

The Native Store has received three performance upgrades in the 3.2 release: predictive reads, dynamic caching and lower IO for transactions.

Predictive reads are an improvement in how bytes are read from disk. Some of the native store data structures store many differently sized blocks of data in the same file. We would then have to first read the size of the block, and then read the block (2 IOPS in total) in order to retrieve a block. Predictive reading means that we instead perform a slightly bigger read (1 IOPS) hoping to both read the size and the whole block. This is predictive since we have to guess the size of the block based on other blocks we have read recently. Guessing correctly reduces IOPS by 50% while the cost of guessing wrong would still only be 2 IOPS per block.

Dynamic caching is a technique where the native store uses a garbage collection-sensitive cache. It will cache as much data as possible, but cached items will be removed if the application starts running low on memory.

The lowering of transaction IO has been achieved by various small improvements in the transaction handling process, including low-level caching of writes for the various native store files and reducing the IOPS for transaction state logging. It gives us around a 15% higher transaction throughput for small transactions.

Predictive reads and dynamic caching together make queries that read a lot of data up to 72% faster. In our benchmarks we saw a 69% performance improvement for a query that retrieve all distinct predicates, and nearly 72% for a query that retrieves a large number of values and groups and aggregates them. The dynamic caching will help with all queries in general and adapts to the amount of available RAM. Typically the dynamic cache uses around 2 GB of RAM for a NativeStore with 250 million triples.

All in all, these improvements mean that both the native store and the memory store are significantly faster, and better able to cope with larger datasets, in release 3.2.0.

For more details on the precise benchmarks we ran, have a look at our git repository, in particular:

If you’re interested, you can of course even run these benchmarks yourself, to see how your own hardware scores.


Eclipse RDF4J™ is a powerful Java framework for processing and handling RDF data. This includes creating, parsing, scalable storage, reasoning and querying with RDF and Linked Data. It offers an easy-to-use API that can be connected to all leading RDF database solutions. It allows you to connect with SPARQL endpoints and create applications that leverage the power of linked data and Semantic Web.

RDF4J Architecture

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