Supavisor: Scaling Postgres to 1 Million Connections


14 minute read

One of the most widely-discussed shortcomings of Postgres is it's connection system. Every Postgres connection has a reasonably high memory footprint, and determining the maximum number of connections your database can handle is a bit of an art.

A common solution is connection pooling. Supabase currently offers pgbouncer which is single-threaded, making it difficult to scale. We've seen some novel ways to scale pgbouncer, but we have a few other goals in mind for our platform.

And so we've built Supavisor, a Postgres connection pooler that can handle millions of connections.

What is Supavisor?

Supavisor is a scalable, cloud-native Postgres connection pooler. It has been developed with multi-tenancy in mind, handling millions of connections without significant overhead or latency. Supavisor is built in Elixir, in partnership with José Valim (the creator of Elixir) and the Dashbit team.

Supavisor will enable us to build some exciting new features for your Postgres cluster:

  • query caching
  • automatic read-replica load balancing
  • query blocking
  • and much more

Benchmarking 1 million connections

We've benchmarked the characteristics Supavisor exhibits under load before rolling it out to our entire Postgres fleet. We tested how we can scale the cluster vertically and horizontally. These results have given us confidence that Supavisor is ready.


We use a custom load-testing application to test the features of the Supabase platform. It consists of:

  1. Terraform scripts for creating a testing environment on AWS.
  2. k6 as the load generator. We used the k6 guides for running large-scale tests and fine-tuning OS to tweak the config for AWS instances.
  3. Grafana + Prometheus for monitoring.

To simulate 1,000,000 concurrent active connections, we used 20 AWS EC2 instances with 16 cores and 32GB of RAM. We ran the tests for up to 2 hours to ensure that the Supavisor can handle load over long periods.

Establishing a baseline

In the first test, we set up a single ARM 16-core Supavisor instance on Ubuntu 22.04.2 aarch64 connected to one database instance.

We wanted to assess the capacity of a single Supavisor instance. We achieved:

  • 250,000 concurrent connections to Supavisor
  • Supavisor was running with a pool of 400 direct connections to the database
  • The system was processing 20,000 queries per second (QPS)

With this setup the database is the bottleneck - 20,000 QPS was the maximum this instance could handle. Increasing QPS would have been possible with a larger instance or read-replicas, but we wanted to focus on the scalability of Supavisor's connection limit (not Postgres's). Since Supavisor is built with multi-tenancy, addition of read-replicas is as easy as sending a single post request.

Supavisor's scaling capabilities

In the next step, we focused on Supavisor's vertical scaling capabilities by connecting 500,000 concurrent users with a 64-core Supavisor instance while the single database instance configuration remained the same.

The system showed no signs of instability or performance degradation. QPS remained constant at 20,000, proving that an increased number of connections doesn't negatively affect Supavisor's overall performance (this is generally expected from a BEAM-based language like Elixir).

We also monitored how the load was distributed over Supavisor instance's cores:

The load is spread evenly between all cores, which is great. CPU usage is high, signaling that the current setup has reached its capacity: a single Supavisor instance with 64 core handles around 500,000 connections. With this reference number, we moved on to horizontal scaling tests.

Scaling to 1,000,000 connections

To examine horizontal scalability, we deployed two 64-core Supavisor instances, with the first instance connected directly to the database and the other relaying queries through the first.

In the Supavisor architecture, only a single node holds direct connections to each database instance. When you add more Postgres databases or read-replicas, Supavisor spreads the connections to the replicas. Every Supavisor instance can accept incoming connections and either execute queries themselves (if they directly connected) or relay to another node (if not).

This setup successfully handled:

  • 1,003,200 simultaneous connections to the Supavisor instances.
  • 20,000 QPS or 1.2 million queries per minute. Each connection executed a select query once every 50 seconds.

Within the cluster:

  • The directly connected instance was under almost the same load as when handling 500,000 concurrent clients in a single-node mode.
  • The relaying instance was extremely over-resourced. Most cores had little-to-no workload because relayed connections are more lightweight.

In a multi-tenant setup (or when using Read-Replicas), the load is much more evenly spread because all Supavisor instances connect to comparable numbers of databases and have both direct and relayed connections evenly distributed between each other.

Supavisor's impact on query duration

To measure the impact on query duration, we started with 5,000 queries per second. This allows us to exclude side effects from the database side (long query execution times).

The query used in the experiment was the following:

select *
from (
(1, 'one'),
(2, 'two'),
(3, 'three')
) as t (num, letter);

We found with Supavisor median query duration was less than 2ms. And this includes not only time from client to Supavisor but the whole roundtrip: from Client to Supavisor ➡️ from Supavisor to Postgres ➡️ then query execution time on Postgres ➡️ and back to Supavisor ➡️ and to the Client.

Query Duration

We can see that 95% of queries were completed in less than 3 milliseconds. A slightly higher query duration at the beginning of the test can be explained by the dynamic nature of Supavisor-to-Database connection pool. It is being scaled up to the hard limit when more clients establish connections to Supavisor itself and scaled back down when users leave.

We continued to scale up to 20,000QPS to assess the impact on query duration and measured a median of 18.4ms:

Query Duration

Database experiences much more load and more concurrent queries, which leads to higher execution times on the database side. And here are some metrics from the database side:

The scalability can be further enhanced by adding more databases (or read-replicas if you want to scale a single app) to increase QPS or deploying additional Supavisor instances to accommodate tens of millions of concurrent connections.

Supavisor on Supabase Platform

We compared our current PgBouncer setup with the new Supavisor setup to assess any impact on query duration.

Current architecture

Currently, every Supabase project comes with its own PgBouncer server running on the same instance as the Postgres database to ensure that the latency is as low as possible. But this setup comes with a trade-off: it uses the same compute resources as your database.

Supavisor architecture

In the future, you connect to a distinct multi-tenant Supavisor cluster through a load-balancer. The Supavisor cluster maintains a connection pool to your database. In this case the pooler doesn't consume additional CPU and RAM resources on the database server, but it does involve extra network latency.

We ran 5,000 queries per second for each configuration, this time experimenting with insert query. To make the experiment more realistic, we enabled the PostGIS extension to store coordinates:

insert into positions (
values (
'Virtual ${name}',
'User ${name}',
'Load Tester',
st_point(-73.946${x}, 40.807${y}),

We observed an additional 2ms required each query to be executed on the Supavisor architecture compared to PgBouncer architecture.

Query Duration with SupavisorQuery Duration with PgBouncer
Fig.1 - Query Duration with Supavisor
Fig.2 - Query Duration with PgBouncer

Getting started

Supavisor has been rolled out to all Supabase projects in all regions.

Contact support to start using it today, and we'll provide connection details. We will be exposing a new connection string in project dashboards over the next few weeks.

You'll be able to use both PgBouncer and Supavisor for a few months in parallel. Nothing will change with your PgBouncer setup if you need to switch back.

Supavisor will be added to the self-hosted stack as soon as we have tested it across our database fleet. That said - we're confident that it's ready for use if you want to try it with your own Postgres database. Sequin, one of our partners, has been using Supavisor for several months:

With Supavisor, we've been able to ship incredible features that would have been very hard to build otherwise. For example, our customers can now read from and write to Salesforce and HubSpot via Postgres. We achieve this by intercepting queries that route through Supavisor.

We chose Supavisor because it's scalable, multi-tenant, and written in Elixir. We were able to integrate it easily with our own Elixir infrastructure. As partners, we look forward to helping shape the future of Postgres connection pooling with Supabase.

Anthony Accomazzo, Co-founder of Sequin. avatar

Anthony Accomazzo, Co-founder of Sequin.


Supavisor's vertical and horizontal scaling ability make it the optimal solution for developers who aim to create applications that can effortlessly scale, even under extreme workloads, avoiding issues such as "too many connections" and enabling the full power of edge functions and serverless.

If you are interested in exploring Supavisor's potential or want to implement its scalability in your upcoming project, check out the GitHub repository to know more.

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