Ignite.NET Serialization Performance

How fast are different Ignite serialization modes? How do they compare to other popular serializers?


Ignite is a distributed system, and data serialization is at its core. Cached data, compute closures, service instances, messages and events - everything is serialized to be transferred over the network. Therefore, fast and compact serialization is essential for overall system performance.

Ignite uses own custom binary protocol, and there is a natural question: is it adequate? How does it compare to standard and third party serializers?

There are multiple modes available (see Serialization docs):

  • Reflective: automatic opt-out serialization of all fields with metadata (random field access + SQL)
  • Reflective Raw: same as above, but without metadata (sequential-only access, SQL is not available)
  • Binarizable: manual interface implementation with field metadata
  • Binarizable Raw: manual interface implementation without field metadata
  • Serializable: standard BinaryFormatter (SQL is not available)

As for third party serializers, I’m going to use protobuf-net, which is quite popular, quick, and compact. There are a lot of “protobuf vs X” comparisons online, so you can compare Ignite to other serializers by comparing them to protobuf.


This post does not aim to provide very fair and comprehensive performance comparison of Ignite and Protobuf.

Ignite serializer is not a general purpose serializer (you can’t even use it directly, as we’ll see below), it is tailored specifically for distributed environment. Our goal is to have a general idea of performance characteristics of various serialization modes.

Size Comparison

The following data object is used for all comparisons, initialized by CreateInstance method:

public class Person
    public int Id { get; set; }
    public string Name { get; set; }
    public string Data { get; set; }
    public Guid Guid { get; set; }

    public static T CreateInstance<T>() where T : Person, new()
        return new T
            Id = int.MinValue,              // 4 bytes
            Name = "John Johnson",          // 12 bytes
            Data = new string('g', 1000),   // 1000 bytes
            Guid = Guid.NewGuid()           // 16 bytes

Full source code is available on GitHub.

Resulting size in serialized form:

          Method | Size (bytes) |
    Serializable |  1426        |
      Reflective |  1076        |
     Binarizable |  1076        |
  Reflective Raw |  1067        |
 Binarizable Raw |  1067        |
        Protobuf |  1048        |
        Payload  |  1032        |

Last row (Payload) is the raw data size (without string lengths even).

  • As expected, Reflective and Binarizable produce exactly the same result (reflective does the same thing as we do in IBinarizable implementation).
  • Raw mode is 9 bytes shorter.
  • Protobuf is 19 bytes shorter than Ignite raw.
  • Serializable takes quite a lot more space.

To understand the differences, let’s see how int field is written:

  • Ignite non-raw: 1 byte type code, 4 bytes value.
  • Ignite raw: 4 bytes value.
  • Protobuf: 1 byte field key (wire type + field number), 1-5 bytes value.

Protobuf is simply a set of fieldKey+value pairs (see docs), while Ignite serialized object always has a header of 24 bytes (which contains, among other things, protocol version and type information). Protobuf format is quite similar to Ignite non-raw format, and, as we can see, the size is quite close (Ignite non-raw without header is 1052 bytes).

Speed Comparison

BenchmarkDotNet from Andrey Akinshin is used to measure performance.

Test methods serialize the data object to a byte array, deserialize it back, and verify equality. Default benchmark settings are used.

Ignite serializer can not be called directly, so we have to use Reflection to access the Marshaller class.

There are multiple classes that derive from Person class in order to configure different modes in Ignite.


              Method |     Median |    StdDev |
-------------------- |----------- |---------- |
        Serializable | 54.7112 us | 3.2140 us |
            Protobuf |  8.6584 us | 0.1308 us |
          Reflective |  8.4182 us | 0.1102 us |
         Binarizable |  7.9148 us | 0.1148 us |
      Reflective Raw |  7.8528 us | 0.1163 us |
     Binarizable Raw |  7.4358 us | 0.1583 us |


  • Ignite is on par with Protobuf on this particular data set (keep in mind that this can vary quite a bit depending on field types and values).
  • Ignite raw mode is ~7% faster than non-raw mode. The gap will be wider when there are more fields.
  • Reflective serialization is ~5% slower than manual Binarizable implementation (Ignite compiles a list of write & read method calls, so there is some overhead due to list iteration and delegate invocation).
  • Serializable is a lot slower. The only advantage here is that we don’t need to register the type in BinaryConfiguration.

As a conclusion, we can say that non-raw reflective Ignite serialization is perfectly fine for most use cases. It enables all Ignite features (SQL, binary mode, etc), does not require user code modification, is fast and compact.

Written on September 28, 2016