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Hyperdrive: making databases feel like they’re global


8 min read

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Hyperdrive: making databases feel like they’re global

Hyperdrive makes accessing your existing databases from Cloudflare Workers, wherever they are running, hyper fast. You connect Hyperdrive to your database, change one line of code to connect through Hyperdrive, and voilà: connections and queries get faster (and spoiler: you can use it today).

In a nutshell, Hyperdrive uses our global network to speed up queries to your existing databases, whether they’re in a legacy cloud provider or with your favorite serverless database provider; dramatically reduces the latency incurred from repeatedly setting up new database connections; and caches the most popular read queries against your database, often avoiding the need to go back to your database at all.

Without Hyperdrive, that core database — the one with your user profiles, product inventory, or running your critical web app — sitting in the us-east1 region of a legacy cloud provider is going to be really slow to access for users in Paris, Singapore and Dubai and slower than it should be for users in Los Angeles or Vancouver. With each round trip taking up to 200ms, it’s easy to burn up to a second (or more!) on the multiple round-trips needed just to set up a connection, before you’ve even made the query for your data. Hyperdrive is designed to fix this.

To demonstrate Hyperdrive’s performance, we built a demo application that makes back-to-back queries against the same database: both with Hyperdrive and without Hyperdrive (directly). The app selects a database in a neighboring continent: if you’re in Europe, it selects a database in the US — an all-too-common experience for many European Internet users — and if you’re in Africa, it selects a database in Europe (and so on). It returns raw results from a straightforward SELECT query, with no carefully selected averages or cherry-picked metrics.

We built a demo app that makes real queries to a PostgreSQL database, with and without Hyperdrive

Throughout internal testing, initial user reports and the multiple runs in our benchmark, Hyperdrive delivers a 17 - 25x performance improvement vs. going direct to the database for cached queries, and a 6 - 8x improvement for uncached queries and writes. The cached latency might not surprise you, but we think that being 6 - 8x faster on uncached queries changes “I can’t query a centralized database from Cloudflare Workers” to “where has this been all my life?!”. We’re also continuing to work on performance improvements: we’ve already identified additional latency savings, and we’ll be pushing those out in the coming weeks.

The best part? Developers with a Workers paid plan can start using the Hyperdrive open beta immediately: there are no waiting lists or special sign-up forms to navigate.

Hyperdrive? Never heard of it?

We’ve been working on Hyperdrive in secret for a short while: but allowing developers to connect to databases they already have — with their existing data, queries and tooling — has been something on our minds for quite some time.

In a modern distributed cloud environment like Workers, where compute is globally distributed (so it’s close to users) and functions are short-lived (so you’re billed no more than is needed), connecting to traditional databases has been both slow and unscalable. Slow because it takes upwards of seven round-trips (TCP handshake; TLS negotiation; then auth) to establish the connection, and unscalable because databases like PostgreSQL have a high resource cost per connection. Even just a couple of hundred connections to a database can consume non-negligible memory, separate from any memory needed for queries.

Our friends over at Neon (a popular serverless Postgres provider) wrote about this, and even released a WebSocket proxy and driver to reduce the connection overhead, but are still fighting uphill in the snow: even with a custom driver, we’re down to 4 round-trips, each still potentially taking 50-200 milliseconds or more. When those connections are long-lived, that’s OK — it might happen once every few hours at best. But when they’re scoped to an individual function invocation, and are only useful for a few milliseconds to minutes at best — your code spends more time waiting. It’s effectively another kind of cold start: having to initiate a fresh connection to your database before making a query means that using a traditional database in a distributed or serverless environment is (to put it lightly) really slow.

To combat this, Hyperdrive does two things.

First, it maintains a set of regional database connection pools across Cloudflare’s network, so a Cloudflare Worker avoids making a fresh connection to a database on every request. Instead, the Worker can establish a connection to Hyperdrive (fast!), with Hyperdrive maintaining a pool of ready-to-go connections back to the database. Since a database can be anywhere from 30ms to (often) 300ms away over a single round-trip (let alone the seven or more you need for a new connection), having a pool of available connections dramatically reduces the latency issue that short-lived connections would otherwise suffer.

Second, it understands the difference between read (non-mutating) and write (mutating) queries and transactions, and can automatically cache your most popular read queries: which represent over 80% of most queries made to databases in typical web applications. That product listing page that tens of thousands of users visit every hour; open jobs on a major careers site; or even queries for config data that changes occasionally; a tremendous amount of what is queried does not change often, and caching it closer to where the user is querying it from can dramatically speed up access to that data for the next ten thousand users. Write queries, which can’t be safely cached, still get to benefit from both Hyperdrive’s connection pooling and Cloudflare’s global network: being able to take the fastest routes across the Internet across our backbone cuts down latency there, too.

Even if your database is on the other side of the country, 70ms x 6 round-trips is a lot of time for a user to be waiting for a query response.

Hyperdrive works not only with PostgreSQL databases — including Neon, Google Cloud SQL, AWS RDS, and Timescale, but also PostgreSQL-compatible databases like Materialize (a powerful stream-processing database), CockroachDB (a major distributed database), Google Cloud’s AlloyDB, and AWS Aurora Postgres.

We’re also working on bringing support for MySQL, including providers like PlanetScale, by the end of the year, with more database engines planned in the future.

The magic connection string

One of the major design goals for Hyperdrive was the need for developers to keep using their existing drivers, query builder and ORM (Object-Relational Mapper) libraries. It wouldn’t have mattered how fast Hyperdrive was if we required you to migrate away from your favorite ORM and/or rewrite hundreds (or more) lines of code & tests to benefit from Hyperdrive’s performance.

To achieve this, we worked with the maintainers of popular open-source drivers — including node-postgres and Postgres.js — to help their libraries support Worker’s new TCP socket API, which is going through the standardization process, and we expect to see land in Node.js, Deno and Bun as well.

The humble database connection string is the shared language of database drivers, and typically takes on this format:

postgres://user:[email protected]:5432/postgres

The magic behind Hyperdrive is that you can start using it in your existing Workers applications, with your existing queries, just by swapping out your connection string for the one Hyperdrive generates instead.

Creating a Hyperdrive

With an existing database ready to go — in this example, we’ll use a Postgres database from Neon — it takes less than a minute to get Hyperdrive running (yes, we timed it).

If you don’t have an existing Cloudflare Workers project, you can quickly create one:

$ npm create cloudflare@latest
# Call the application "hyperdrive-demo"
# Choose "Hello World Worker" as your template

From here, we just need the database connection string for our database and a quick wrangler command-line invocation to have Hyperdrive connect to it.

# Using wrangler v3.10.0 or above
wrangler hyperdrive create a-faster-database --connection-string="postgres://user:[email protected]:5432/neondb"

# This will return an ID: we'll use this in the next step

Add our Hyperdrive to the wrangler.toml configuration file for our Worker:

binding = "HYPERDRIVE"
id = "cdb28782-0dfc-4aca-a445-a2c318fb26fd"

We can now write a Worker — or take an existing Worker script — and use Hyperdrive to speed up connections and queries to our existing database. We use node-postgres here, but we could just as easily use Drizzle ORM.

import { Client } from 'pg';

export interface Env {
	HYPERDRIVE: Hyperdrive;

export default {
	async fetch(request: Request, env: Env, ctx: ExecutionContext) {
		// Create a database client that connects to our database via Hyperdrive
		// Hyperdrive generates a unique connection string you can pass to
		// supported drivers, including node-postgres, Postgres.js, and the many
		// ORMs and query builders that use these drivers.
		const client = new Client({ connectionString: env.HYPERDRIVE.connectionString });

		try {
			// Connect to our database
			await client.connect();

			// A very simple test query
			let result = await client.query({ text: 'SELECT * FROM pg_tables' });

			// Return our result rows as JSON
			return Response.json({ result: result });
		} catch (e) {
			return Response.json({ error: JSON.stringify(e) }, { status: 500 });

The code above is intentionally simple, but hopefully you can see the magic: our database driver gets a connection string from Hyperdrive, and is none-the-wiser. It doesn’t need to know anything about Hyperdrive, we don’t have to toss out our favorite query builder library, and we can immediately realize the speed benefits when making queries.

Connections are automatically pooled and kept warm, our most popular queries are cached, and our entire application gets faster.

We’ve also built out guides for every major database provider to make it easy to get what you need from them (a connection string) into Hyperdrive.

Going fast can’t be cheap, right?

We think Hyperdrive is critical to accessing your existing databases when building on Cloudflare Workers: traditional databases were just never designed for a world where clients are globally distributed.

Hyperdrive’s connection pooling will always be free, for both database protocols we support today and new database protocols we add in the future. Just like DDoS protection and our global CDN, we think access to Hyperdrive’s core feature is too useful to hold back.

During the open beta, Hyperdrive itself will not incur any charges for usage, regardless of how you use it. We’ll be announcing more details on how Hyperdrive will be priced closer to GA (early in 2024), with plenty of notice.

Time to query

So where to from here for Hyperdrive?

We’re planning on bringing Hyperdrive to GA in early 2024 — and we’re focused on landing more controls over how we cache & automatically invalidate based on writes, detailed query and performance analytics (soon!), support for more database engines (including MySQL) as well as continuing to work on making it even faster.

We’re also working to enable private network connectivity via Magic WAN and Cloudflare Tunnel, so that you can connect to databases that aren’t (or can’t be) exposed to the public Internet.

To connect Hyperdrive to your existing database, visit our developer docs — it takes less than a minute to create a Hyperdrive and update existing code to use it. Join the #hyperdrive-beta channel in our Developer Discord to ask questions, surface bugs, and talk to our Product & Engineering teams directly.

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Matt Silverlock|@elithrar
Alex Robinson|@alexwritescode

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