Production postmortemThe random high CPU

time to read 2 min | 253 words

A customer complained that every now and then RavenDB is hitting 100% CPU and stays there. They were kind enough to provide a minidump, and I started the investigation.

I loaded the minidump to WinDB and started debugging. The first thing you do with high CPU is rung the “!runaway” command, which sorts the threads by how busy they are:


I switched to the first thread (39) and asked for its stack, I highlighted the interesting parts:


This is enough to have a strong suspicion on what is going on. I checked some of the other high CPU threads and my suspicion was confirmed, but even from this single stack trace it is enough.

Pretty much whenever you see a thread doing high CPU within the Dictionary class it means that you are accessing it in a concurrent manner. This is unsafe, and may lead to strange effects. One of them being an infinite loop.

In this case, several threads were caught in this infinite loop. The stack trace also told us where in RavenDB we are doing this, and from there we could confirm that indeed, there is a rare set of circumstances that can cause a timer to fire fast enough that the previous timer didn’t have a chance to complete, and both of these timers will modify the same dictionary, causing the issue.

More posts in "Production postmortem" series:

  1. (22 Feb 2018) The unavailable Linux server
  2. (06 Dec 2017) data corruption, a view from INSIDE the sausage
  3. (01 Dec 2017) The random high CPU
  4. (07 Aug 2017) 30% boost with a single line change
  5. (04 Aug 2017) The case of 99.99% percentile
  6. (02 Aug 2017) The lightly loaded trashing server
  7. (23 Aug 2016) The insidious cost of managed memory
  8. (05 Feb 2016) A null reference in our abstraction
  9. (27 Jan 2016) The Razor Suicide
  10. (13 Nov 2015) The case of the “it is slow on that machine (only)”
  11. (21 Oct 2015) The case of the slow index rebuild
  12. (22 Sep 2015) The case of the Unicode Poo
  13. (03 Sep 2015) The industry at large
  14. (01 Sep 2015) The case of the lying configuration file
  15. (31 Aug 2015) The case of the memory eater and high load
  16. (14 Aug 2015) The case of the man in the middle
  17. (05 Aug 2015) Reading the errors
  18. (29 Jul 2015) The evil licensing code
  19. (23 Jul 2015) The case of the native memory leak
  20. (16 Jul 2015) The case of the intransigent new database
  21. (13 Jul 2015) The case of the hung over server
  22. (09 Jul 2015) The case of the infected cluster