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Working with tables

Tables in Firebolt have a few unique characteristics that are designed to optimize performance. This topic covers table concepts.

Fact and dimension tables

External tables exist solely as a connector to your data source. When you create a table in Firebolt to run queries over, you must specify whether it’s a FACT or a DIMENSION table. Firebolt handles these table types differently to optimize query performance in general and join operations in particular.

  • Fact tables are always sharded across engine nodes. Each node stores part of the table. Use fact tables for your larger and most granular (transaction) tables.
  • Dimension tables are replicated in each engine node. Use dimension tables for smaller data sets that are typically more descriptive of a dimension in the fact table, and are frequently joined with fact tables. When performing joins, the local shard of a fact table on each node is joined with the local copy of the dimension table.

If your table does not fit in either of the traditional fact or dimension definition, we recommended that you define very large tables as fact tables, and smaller tables as dimension tables.

Primary indexes

Tables in the Firebolt data warehouse are stored in the Firebolt file format (F3) to optimize speed and efficiency. F3 uses the primary index that you specify in a table definition to sort, compress, and index data. Primary indexes are mandatory for fact tables and optional for dimension tables. For more information about configuring primary indexes, see Using primary indexes.

Example: creating fact and dimension tables

Below is a simple example of a script that creates one fact table and two dimension tables.

CREATE FACT TABLE transactions
    transaction_id    BIGINT,
    sale_date         DATETIME,
    store_id          INT,
    product_id        INT,
    units_sold        INT
PRIMARY INDEX store_id, product_id;

    store_id      INT,
    store_number  INT,
    state         TEXT,
    country       TEXT

    product_id        INT,
    product_name      TEXT,
    product_category  TEXT,
    brand             TEXT

For more information, see CREATE FACT|DIMENSION TABLE.