This benchmark does not favour any platform and we ran this benchmark on many different distributions. But you got to start somewhere. It is not HIVE specify as well, but hive happens to be the first engine to be implemented.

This FAQ is mostly based on our experiments with Hive on Yarn with CDH 5.x

Where do i put my cluster specific settings?


Here: Big-Bench/conf/userSettings.conf

Where is my core-site.xml/hdfs-site.xml for BIG_BENCH_HADOOP_CONF (usually the one in /etc/hadoop/…):

find /etc -name "hdfs-site.xml" 2> /dev/null

Where is my hdfs native libs folder for BIG_BENCH_HADOOP_LIBS_NATIVE?

find / -name "" 2> /dev/null

What is my name node address for BIG_BENCH_HDFS_NAMENODE?

Look inside your hdfs-site.xml and locate this property value:


Where do i put benchmark specific hive options?


There are already a number of documented settings in there.

Where do i put query specific hive options?

You can place an optional file “hiveLocalSettings.sql” into a queries folder e.g.:


You can put your query specific settings into this file, and the benchmark will automatically load the file. The hiveLocalSettings.sql file gets loaded last, which allows you to override any previously made settings in ,e.g., Big-Bench/engines/hive/conf/hiveSettings.sql. This way your settings are not overwritten by future github updates and there won’t be any conflicts when updating the query files.

Underutilized cluster

cluster setup

Before “tuning” or asking in the google group, please ensure that your cluster is well configured and able to utilize all resources (cpu/mem/storage/netIO).

There are a lot of things you have to configure, depending on your hadoop distribution and your hardware. Some important variables regarding MapReduce task performance:


Basically, you may want to have at least as much (yarn) “containers” (container may hold a map or a reduce task) on your cluster as you have CPU cores or hardware threads. Despite that, you configure your container count based on available memory in your cluster. 1-2GB of memory per container may be a good starting point. For e.g: If you have 64 GB of memory and 32 threads, start with 2GB per container to tune 32 containers per node.

In CDH you can do this with: (just example values! follow a more sophisticated tutorial on how to set up your cluster!):

Gateway Gateway BaseGroup –expand–> Resource management

Container_Size (e.g.:  1,5Gb can be sufficient but you may require more if you run into "OutOfMemory" or "GC overhead exceeded" errors while executing this benchmark)
mapreduce.reduce.memory.mb=Container_Size =0.75*Container_Size =0.75*Container_Size
Client Java Heap Size in Bytes =0.75*Container_Size

Nodemanager Nodemanager BaseGroup –expand–> Resource management

 -container memory
 how many memory ,all containers together, can allocate (physical "free" resources on nodes)
 - yarn.nodemanager.resource.cpu-vcores (same rules as container memory)

ResourceManager ResourceManager BaseGroup –expand–> Resource management

 -yarn.scheduler.minimum-allocation-mb  (set to 512mb or 1GB)
 -yarn.scheduler.maximum-allocation-mb  (hint: container memory/container max mem == minimum amount of containers per node)
 -yarn.scheduler.increment-allocation-mb  set to 512MB
 -yarn.scheduler.maximum-allocation-vcores  set to min amount of containers

Dynamic resource pools (cluster -> dynamic resource pools -> configuration)

If everything runs fine, do not set anything here (no additional restrictions). 
If you experience yarn deadlocks (yarn trying to allocate resources, but fails leading to MR-jobs waiting indefinitely for containers)  you may want set a limit.

datagen stage: Tuning the DataGeneration tool

right settings for number of map tasks (bigBench -m option)

Short answer: One map task per virtual CPU/hardware thread is best to utilize all CPU resources.

But settings in your cluster may not allow you executing this number of map tasks in parallel. Basically you can not run more parallel map tasks then available (yarn-) containers. Another thing to consider when testing on big noisy clusters is the non homogeneous runtime of nodes or node failures. Most mappers may finish long before certain others. To address for this skew in mapper runtime we suggest to set the number of mappers to a multiple (2-3 times) of available containers/threads in your cluster, reducing the runtime of a single mapper and making it cheaper to restart a task. But be aware that a to short runtime per map task also hurts performance, because launching a task is associated with a considerable amount of overhead. In addition to that, more map tasks produce more intermediate files and thus causing more load for the HDFS namenode. Try targeting run times per mapper not shorter than 3 minutes.

For a “small cluster” (4nodes á 40 hardware threads) (4Nodes * 40Threads) * 2 = 320 MapTasks may be a good value.

advanced settings

If your cluster has more available threads then concurrently runnable containers, your cluster may be CPU underutilized. In this case you can increase the number of threads available to the data generation tool. The data generation tool will then allocate the specified number of threads per map task.

Please open your Big-Bench/conf/userSettings.conf configuration file and see lines: export BIG_BENCH_DATAGEN_HADOOP_JVM_ENV=”java -DDEBUG_PRINT_PERIODIC_THREAD_DUMPS=5000 -Xmx300m ” and: export BIG_BENCH_DATAGEN_HADOOP_OPTIONS=” -workers 1 -ap 3000 ”

You could set

export BIG_BENCH_DATAGEN_HADOOP_OPTIONS=” -workers 4 -ap 3000 ”

telling the data generation tool to use 4 threads per map task. Note: increasing the number of threads requires larger internal buffers so please add 100Mb of memory to BIG_BENCH_DATAGEN_HADOOP_JVM_ENV per additional thread.

Your final settings for 4 threads per map task should look like this: export BIG_BENCH_DATAGEN_HADOOP_JVM_ENV=”java -DDEBUG_PRINT_PERIODIC_THREAD_DUMPS=5000 -Xmx600m ” export BIG_BENCH_DATAGEN_HADOOP_OPTIONS=” -workers 4 -ap 3000 ”

Hive “loading”-stage is slow

The hive loading stage is not only “moving” file in hdfs from the data/ dir into the hive/warehouse.

Big-Bench hive does not work on the plain CSV files, but instead transforms the files into the ORC file format, more efficient and native to hive. Big-Bench models a set of long running analytic queries. Thus it is more realistic not to store the tables in plain text format but in a optimized fashion.

Transforming data into ORC is a very expensive tasks (index creation, compression, splitting and distributing/replication across the cluster) and loading the tables into hive is done by a single hive job. Since there are 23 distinct tables, hive will always create at least 23 hadoop jobs to do the CSV->ORC processing.

You could test if activating the following options on your cluster work for you: hive.exec.parallel=true hive.exec.parallel.thread.number=8

They allow hive to run multiple uncorrelated jobs in parallel (like creating tables). But be warned, this feature is still considered unstable (Hive 0.12). If you cant modify your hive-site.xml cluster globally, you can uncomment/add these options in: Big-Bench/engines/hive/conf/hiveSettings.sql to enable them for the whole benchmark, including the queries.

Hive Query’s are running slow

Unfortunately there is no generic answer to this. First: this is a long running benchmark with hundreds of distinct mr-Jobs. Each mr-Job has a significant amount of “scheduling” overhead of around ~1minute. So even if you are only processing no data at all, you still have to pay the price of scheduling everything (which is arround 1,5 hours! for a single wave of all 30 queries). There are several projects trying to reduces this problem like TEZ from the stinger imitative or Hive on Spark or SparkSQL. But with Hive on yarn, there is nothing you can really do about this.

Enough data (/bigBench -f option) ?

Make sure you run your benchmark with a big enough dataset to reduce the ratio of fixed overhead time vs. total runtime. Besides from initial testing your cluster setup, never run with a scaling factor of smaller than 100 ( -f 100 ==100GB). For fat nodes (E.g. Nodes with 128GB+ RAM, 32+ Threads, 24+ HDD’s) experiement with 250GB/Node for cluster with 8 DataNodes 2-3TB Datset size is a good starting point.

Enough map/reduce tasks per query stage ?

Look in your logs and search for lines like this:

Hadoop job information for Stage-2: number of mappers: 1; number of reducers: 1

If the number of mappers/reducers is < than your available (yarn) slots or “tasks” you cluster is able to run (Rough estimate: slots == number of CPU# in your cluster or: TotalClusterRAM/slotMaxMem), the query is not using all your clusters resources. But don’t generalize this. Some stages simply don’t have enough data to justify more than 1 map job (e.g. the final stage of a “… limit 100 SORT BY X;” query only has to sort 100 lines). Or the processed table is just to small (like the time or date table). Remember that more map/reduce tasks also implies more overhead. So don’t overdo it as to much map tasks can hurt performance just like to few tasks.

You can tune some parameters in the hive/hiveSettings.sql file. Hive determines the number of map/reduce tasks based on the tables size. If you have a table of 670MB and set the max.split.size to 67000000 bytes, hive will start 10 map tasks to process this table (or maybe less if hive is able to reduce the dataset by using partitioning/bucketing)

set mapred.max.split.size=67108864;
set mapred.min.split.size=1;
set hive.exec.reducers.max=99999;

More detailed log files

The aggregated yarn application log file created for a yarn job contains much more information than the default printout you see on your screen. This log file is especially helpful to debug child-processes started by hadoop MR-jobs. e.g. java/pyhton scripts in certain streaming api using queries), or the “dataGen” task which executes the data generator program.

To retrieve this log please follow these steps:

In your Big-Bench/logs/ folder files or on screen you will find a line similar to this:

14/06/17 19:40:12 INFO impl.YarnClientImpl: Submitted application application_1403017220075_0022

To extract this line from the log file(s) execute:

grep "Submitted application" ${BIG_BENCH_LOGS_DIR}/<log file of interest>.log

The important part is the application ID (e.g. application_1403017220075_0022) itself. Take this ID and request the associate yarn log file using the following command line:

yarn logs -applicationId <applicationID>  > yarnApplicationLog.log

Exceptions/Errors you may encounter

Execution of a MR Stage progresses quickly but then seems to “hang” at ~99%.

This indicates a skew in the data. This means: most reducers handle only very little data, and some (1-2) have to handle most of the data. This happens if some keys are very frequent in comparison to others. e.g.: this is the case for user_sk in web_clickstreams. 50% of all clicks have user_sk == NULL (indicating that the click-stream did not result in a purchase). When a query uses the “distribute by ” keyword, hive distributes the workload by this key. This implies that every reducer handles a specific set of keys. The single reducer responsible for the “null” key then effectively has to process >50% of the total workload (as 50% of all keys are null).

We did our best to filter out null keys within the querys, if the null values are irrelevant for the query result. This does not imply that all hive querys are “skew-free”. Hive offers some settings to tune this:

set hive.optimize.skewjoin=true;
set hive.optimize.skewjoin.compiletime=true;
set hive.groupby.skewindata=true;
set hive.skewjoin.key=100000;
-- read:

But be aware that turning on these options will produce worse! running times for data/queries that are not heavily skewed, which is the reason they are disabled by default.

Execution failed with exit status: 3

Execution failed with exit status: 3
FAILED: Execution Error, return code 3 from

Hive converted a join into a locally running and faster ‘mapjoin’, but ran out of memory while doing so. There are two bugs responsible for this.

Bug 1)

hives metric for converting joins miscalculated the required amount of memory. This is especially true for compressed files and ORC files, as hive uses the filesize as metric, but compressed tables require more memory in their uncompressed ‘in memory representation’.

You could simply decrease ‘hive.smalltable.filesize’ to tune the metric, or increase ‘hive.mapred.local.mem’ to allow the allocation of more memory for map tasks.

The later option may lead to bug number two if you happen to have a affected hadoop version.

Bug 2)

Hive/Hadoop ignores ‘hive.mapred.local.mem’ ! (more exactly: bug in Hadoop 2.2 where hadoop-env.cmd sets the -xmx parameter multiple times, effectively overriding the user set hive.mapred.local.mem setting. see:

There are 3 workarounds for this bug:

  • 1) assign more memory to the local! Hadoop JVM client (this is not! because map-join child jvm will inherit the parents jvm settings
    • In cloudera manager home, click on “hive” service,
    • then on the hive service page click on “configuration”
    • Gateway base group –(expand)–> Resource Management -> Client Java Heap Size in Bytes -> 1GB
  • 2) reduce “hive.smalltable.filesize” to ~1MB or below (depends on your cluster settings for the local JVM)
  • 3) turn off “” to prevent hive from converting the joins to a mapjoin.

2) & 3) can be set in Big-Bench/engines/hive/conf/hiveSettings.sql

Cannot allocate memory

Cannot allocate memory
There is insufficient memory for the Java Runtime Environment to continue.

Native memory allocation (malloc) failed to allocate x bytes for committing reserved memory.

Basically your kernel handed out more memory than actually available, in expectants that most programs actually never use (allocate) every last bit of memory they request. Now a program (in this case java) tries to allocate something in its virtual reserved memory area, but the kernel was wrong with his estimation of application memory consumption and there is no physical memory left available to fulfill the applications malloc request.

WARNING: Some “fixes” suggest disabling “vm.overcommit_memory” in the kernel. If you are already in an “overcommitted” state DO NOT SET sysctl vm.overcommit_memory=2 on the running machine to “cure” it! If you do, you will no longer be able to execute ANY program or shell command, as this would require a memory allocation of which nothing is left. This essentially will deadlock you machine, requiring you to forcefully physically reboot the system. Exceeded MAX_FAILED_UNIQUE_FETCHES; Exceeded MAX_FAILED_UNIQUE_FETCHES;

This cryptic exception basically translates to: Could not communicate with node(s). Tried to copy results between nodes but we failed after to many retries.


  • some nodes cannot communicate between each other
  • disturbed network
  • some node terminated

Caused by: java.lang.InstantiationException: org.apache.hadoop.hive.ql.parse.ASTNodeOrigin ###


java.lang.Exception: XMLEncoder: discarding statement XMLEncoder.writeObject(MapredWork);

related to:

  • Caused by: java.lang.InstantiationException: org.apache.hadoop.hive.ql.parse.ASTNodeOrigin
java.lang.RuntimeException: Cannot serialize object
    at org.apache.hadoop.hive.ql.exec.Utilities$1.exceptionThrown(
Caused by: java.lang.Exception: XMLEncoder: discarding statement XMLEncoder.writeObject(MapredWork);

FAILED: SemanticException [Error 10016]: Line 7:69 Argument type mismatch ‘0.0’: The expression after ELSE should have the same type as those after THEN: “bigint” is expected but “double” is found

Error: GC overhead limit exceeded

Diagnostic Messages for this Task:
Error: GC overhead limit exceeded

FAILED: Execution Error, return code 2 from

Not enough (remote) mapper/reducer memory to complete the job. You have to increase your mapper/reducer job memory limits (and/or yarn container limits).

Please read the chapter cluster setup from this FAQ section.

Note that this error is different from:

Execution failed with exit status: 3
FAILED: Execution Error, return code 3 from

as “Exit status: 3” indicates a memory overflow in the “LOCAL” jvm (the jvm that started your hive task) where as “Error, return code 2” indicates a “REMOTE” problem. (A jvm started by e.g. YARN on a Node to process your job)