How to calculate WCUs/RCUs in DynamoDB

Apr 26, 2018

DynamoDB is a managed NoSQL database. The main selling point is that developers won't experience any operational overheads maintaining it.

Nevertheless, since it's a proprietary database, the architecture is a real blackbox. AWS said that there are numerous differences from the Dynamo paper and every developer should strictly follows their documentations for the best practice.

One of the challeges in their documentation is to calculate and reserve the total numbers of RCUs/WCUs for tables.

Number of read capacity units (RCUs) – how many read requests can you send per second. Number of write capacity units (WCUs) – how many write requests can you send per second.


How to calcuate WCUs

  • 1 WCU = 1kb data / second

WCUs Formula

  • x WCUs = round(item size kb / 1kb)

Example of WCUs

Requirement: write 5 kb data per second

  • round(5kb / 1kb) = 5WCUs


There are 2 types of RCUs:

  1. Strong consistency (read slower becuase of quorums)
  2. Eventual consistency (read faster + cheaper price)

How to calcuate RCUs

  • Strong consistency model: 1 RCU = 4kb of data / second

  • Eventual consistency model: 0.5 RCU = 4kb of data / second

RCUs Formula

  • Formula of strong consistency: x RCUs = round(item size kb / 4kb)

  • Formula of eventual consistency: x RCUs = (round(item size kb / 4kb)) / 2

Example of RCUs

Requirement: write 20 kb data per second

  • Strong consistency: round( 20 / 4 ) = 5 RCUs

  • Eventual consistency: ( round(20 / 4) ) / 2 = 2.5 RCUs

Note: In this post, I'm talking about reserved requests (provisioning). However, recently, there is a new pricing model, "On demand", which literally is not what I mean in this context

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