On 8th of October, Tom Lane committed patch:
Support index-only scans using the visibility map to avoid heap fetches.
When a btree index contains all columns required by the query, and the
visibility map shows that all tuples on a target heap page are
visible-to-all, we don't need to fetch that heap page. This patch depends
on the previous patches that made the visibility map reliable.
There's a fair amount left to do here, notably trying to figure out a less
chintzy way of estimating the cost of an index-only scan, but the core
functionality seems ready to commit.
Robert Haas and Ibrar Ahmed, with some previous work by Heikki Linnakangas.
Continue reading Waiting for 9.2 – Index only scans
Yeah. This one patch alone is worth upgrading to 8.4.
On 3rd of December Heikki Linnakangas committed his patch. Commit message:
Introduce visibility map. The visibility map is a bitmap with one bit per
heap page, where a set bit indicates that all tuples on the page are
visible to all transactions, and the page therefore doesn't need
vacuuming. It is stored in a new relation fork.
Lazy vacuum uses the visibility map to skip pages that don't need
vacuuming. Vacuum is also responsible for setting the bits in the map.
In the future, this can hopefully be used to implement index-only-scans,
but we can't currently guarantee that the visibility map is always 100%
In addition to the visibility map, there's a new PD_ALL_VISIBLE flag on
each heap page, also indicating that all tuples on the page are visible to
all transactions. It's important that this flag is kept up-to-date. It
is also used to skip visibility tests in sequential scans, which gives a
small performance gain on seqscans.
Continue reading Waiting for 8.4 – Visibility maps