PostgreSQL 16: New Query Intelligence Features for Better Performance

PostgreSQL 16: New Query Intelligence Tools for Improved Performance


3 min read

PostgreSQL 16 introduces several enhancements to its query planner and executor, often referred to as built-in query intelligence. These improvements aim to make query planning and execution more efficient, intelligent, and adaptable. Here are some of the key features and improvements related to query intelligence in PostgreSQL 16:

Key Features of Built-in Query Intelligence in PostgreSQL 16

  1. Improved Parallel Query Execution:

    • Increased Parallelism: PostgreSQL 16 enhances the capabilities for parallel query execution, allowing more parts of a query to be executed in parallel. This can significantly improve performance for large, complex queries.

    • Parallel Append: Optimizations in parallel append operations make it more efficient to execute queries that involve UNION ALL and partitioned tables.

  2. Enhanced Partitioning Support:

    • Automatic Partition Pruning: PostgreSQL 16 includes improvements in partition pruning, allowing the planner to exclude unnecessary partitions more effectively. This reduces the amount of data scanned and speeds up query execution.

    • Global Indexes: Support for global indexes on partitioned tables simplifies index management and can lead to better performance for certain types of queries.

  3. Improved Statistics and Planner Optimizations:

    • Extended Statistics: PostgreSQL 16 introduces improvements in extended statistics, which help the planner make better decisions by understanding the correlation between columns.

    • Improved Join Estimates: Enhancements in join estimation provide more accurate row count predictions, leading to better join strategies and overall query plans.

  4. Adaptive Query Planning:

    • Incremental Sort: This feature allows the planner to use sorting more intelligently, sorting only the data that needs to be sorted incrementally rather than the entire result set at once. This can significantly reduce memory usage and improve performance.

    • Memoize Node: PostgreSQL 16 introduces a new executor node called Memoize, which caches the results of expensive computations to avoid redundant calculations in query execution, particularly useful in join operations.

  5. Optimized Indexing and Scanning:

    • Improved Index Usage: Enhancements in how indexes are used, especially with complex queries involving multiple conditions and joins.

    • Index Skip Scans: This optimization allows the planner to skip certain portions of an index, making index scans faster and more efficient.

  6. Automatic Plan Management:

    • Plan Caching Improvements: PostgreSQL 16 includes improvements in plan caching mechanisms, allowing for better reuse of query plans and reducing the overhead of plan generation.

    • Plan Stability: Enhancements that aim to reduce plan instability, ensuring that similar queries use similar plans, thus providing more predictable performance.

  7. Improved Error Handling and Diagnostics:

    • Enhanced EXPLAIN Output: The EXPLAIN command provides more detailed and useful information, helping developers and DBAs better understand query plans and diagnose performance issues.

    • Better Logging and Monitoring: Improved logging and monitoring capabilities provide more insights into query execution and help in identifying performance bottlenecks.

Example Features in Action

1. Incremental Sort

With incremental sort, only the necessary parts of a dataset are sorted incrementally, improving performance especially for large datasets.

SELECT * FROM large_table ORDER BY indexed_column, non_indexed_column;

The planner uses incremental sort to handle this more efficiently.

2. Memoize Node

The Memoize node caches the results of subqueries or expensive functions, which is particularly useful in join operations.

SELECT * FROM orders o JOIN customers c ON o.customer_id = c.customer_id WHERE c.status = 'active';

Here, Memoize can cache the results of the customer status check, reducing redundant computations.

3. Parallel Append

Parallel append allows more efficient execution of UNION ALL and queries on partitioned tables by parallelizing the scan operations.

SELECT * FROM partitioned_table WHERE partition_key BETWEEN 1 AND 1000;


PostgreSQL 16 brings significant advancements in query intelligence, making it a powerful choice for handling complex and large-scale queries efficiently. These enhancements help PostgreSQL remain competitive and effective in a wide range of use cases, from small applications to large enterprise systems. Understanding and leveraging these new features can lead to substantial performance improvements and more efficient database management.