Spark In-Memory Computing – A Beginners Guide

1. Objective

This tutorial on Apache Spark in-memory computing will provide you the detailed description of what is in memory computing? Introduction to Spark in-memory processing and how does Apache Spark process data that does not fit into the memory? This tutorial will also cover various storage levels in Spark and benefits of in-memory computation.

Apache spark in-memory computing concept.

2. What is In-memory Computing?

In in-memory computation, the data is kept in random access memory(RAM) instead of some slow disk drives and is processed in parallel. Using this we can detect a pattern, analyze large data. This has become popular because it reduces the cost of memory. So, in-memory processing is economic for applications. The two main columns of in-memory computation are-

  • RAM storage
  • Parallel distributed processing.

3. Introduction to Spark In-memory Computing

Keeping the data in-memory improves the performance by an order of magnitudes. The main abstraction of Spark is its RDDs. And the RDDs are cached using the cache() or persist() method.Follow this link to learn Spark RDD persistence and caching mechanism.

When we use cache() method, all the RDD are stored in-memory. When RDD stores the value in memory, the data that does not fit in memory is either recalculated or the excess data is sent to disk. Whenever we want RDD, it can be extracted without going to disk. This reduces the space – time complexity and overhead of disk storage.

The in-memory capability of Spark is good for machine learning and micro-batch processing. It provides faster execution for iterative jobs.

When we use persist() method the RDDs can also be stored in-memory, we can use it across parallel operations. The difference between cache() and persist() is that using cache() the default storage level is MEMORY_ONLY while using persist() we can use various storage levels.

4. Storage levels of RDD Persist() in Spark

The various storage level of persist() method in Apache Spark RDD are:


Let’s discuss the above mention Apache Spark storage levels one by one –


In this storage level Spark, RDD is stored as deserialized JAVA object in JVM. If RDD does not fit in memory, then the remaining will be recomputed each time they are needed.

Spark storage level - memory only


In this level, RDD is stored as deserialized JAVA object in JVM. If the full RDD does not fit in memory then the remaining partition is stored on disk, instead of recomputing it every time when it is needed.

Spark storage level-memory and disk


This level stores RDDs as serialized JAVA object. It stores one-byte array per partition. It is like MEMORY_ONLY but is more space efficient especially when we use fast serializer.

Spark storage level - memory only serialized


This level stores RDD as serialized JAVA object. If the full RDD does not fit in the memory then it stores the remaining partition on the disk, instead of recomputing it every time when we need.

Spark storage level - memory and disk serialized


This storage level stores the RDD partitions only on disk.

Spark storage level-disk-only


It is like MEMORY_ONLY and MEMORY_AND_DISK. The only difference is that each partition gets replicate on two nodes in the cluster.

Follow this link to learn more about Spark terminologies and concepts in detail.

5. Advantages of In-memory Processing

After studying Spark in-memory computing introduction and various storage levels in detail, let’s discuss the advantages of in-memory computation-

  1. When we need a data to analyze it is already available on the go or we can retrieve it easily.
  2. It is good for real-time risk management and fraud detection.
  3. The data becomes highly accessible.
  4. The computation speed of the system increases.
  5. Improves complex event processing.
  6. Cached a large amount of data.
  7. It is economic, as the cost of RAM has fallen over a period of time.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, Apache Hadoop enables users to store and process huge amounts of data at very low costs. However, its relies on persistent storage to provide fault tolerance and its one-pass computation model makes MapReduce a poor fit for low-latency applications and iterative computations, such as machine learning and graph algorithms.

Hence, Apache Spark solves these Hadoop drawbacks by generalizing the MapReduce model. It improves the performance and ease of use.

If you like this post or have any query related to Apache Spark In-Memory Computing, so, do let us know by leaving a comment.

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