HDFS Administration
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Chapter 16. Short Circuit Local Reads On HDFS

In HDFS, reads normally go through the DataNode. Thus, when a client asks the DataNode to read a file, the DataNode reads that file off of the disk and sends the data to the client over a TCP socket. "Short-circuit" reads bypass the DataNode, allowing the client to read the file directly. Obviously, this is only possible in cases where the client is co-located with the data. Short-circuit reads provide a substantial performance boost to many applications.