XML-RPC memory improvements

I’ve been looking into #21098 since yesterday, trying to figure out how to minimize out of memory errors on media uploads through XML-RPC. Results were a bit unexpected, but interesting nonetheless. Any ideas on how to reduce memory usage are more than welcome.

I’m still not sure where all the memory goes, for instance a 1MB file upload takes 50M of memory, while a 10M file takes 153M. The base64 encoding represents just a 33% overhead, so that’s not it. Also, it seems that even if you disable $HTTP_RAW_POST_DATA, php keeps the whole POST body in memory, but still, that’s a lot of memory to account for.

Fix #1: read from php://input directly

After a lot of playing with xdebug, IXR_Message->parse() didn’t look too efficient, so I tried https://gist.github.com/koke/5720860.

The current implementations relies a lot on substr, which works fine for smaller requests, but not so much on media upload. After some early testings, my solution seemed to require a bit more memory on small requests, but then performed much better as request size increased.

How did I test

I added this plugin (xmlrpc-test-upload.php), which adds a new wp.testUpload method: it replicates metaWeblog.newMediaObject, but it also returns peak memory usage. I had some problems with integer overflows so I ended up using the values output to the error log.

Then did a quick client on test.php and created a bunch of blank videos with file sizes from 1 to 200 mb. For instance, to get a ~1MB video:


ffmpeg -t 32 -s 1280×720 -f rawvideo -pix_fmt rgb24 -r 25 -i /dev/zero -y test-1M.mpg


Memory results

The memory reductions weren’t as good as I expected, but still worth a try

Peak memory usage
File size (MB) Baseline php://input Reduction
1 50M 49M 2.09%
2 61M 58M 4.31%
5 94M 88M 6.96%
10 153M 139M 9.08%
50 649M 580M 10.63%
100 1267M 1129M 10.87%
200 2503M 2228M 10.99%


Time results

After some trial/error process while running the tests, I did notice the new version felt faster, so I tested for that as well. Results were more pleasing this time:

Response time (s)
File size (MB) Baseline php://input Reduction
1 0.189 0.197 -4.30%
2 0.228 0.202 11.41%
5 0.330 0.282 14.34%
10 0.620 0.414 33.34%
50 5.48 1.26 76.92%
100 18.93 2.34 87.66%
200 93.23 5.39 94.22%


What’s next

Even after this, I’m not sure yet where most of the memory goes. Running a xdebug trace on the new code, with a 200MB file upload:

  • When xmlrpc.php is called, xdebug already reports a memory usage of 786MB.
  • Once WordPress is initialized and IXR_Server->serve() is called, memory usage is 1083MB.
  • Just before IXR finishes parsing, it reaches peak memory usage at 1607MB.
  • At the end of execution memory usage is 1345MB.

I’ve uploaded the xdebug trace (trace-200.txt) in case someone else can spot another improvements.