MariaDB 5.3 and beyond have a number of features that are targeted at big queries and so are disabled by default.
This page describes recommended settings for IO-bound queries that shovel through lots of records.
First, turn on Batched Key Access:
# Turn on disk-ordered reads optimizer_switch='mrr=on' optimizer_switch='mrr_cost_based=off' # Turn on Batched Key Access (BKA) join_cache_level = 6
Give BKA buffer space to operate on. Ideally, it should have enough space to fit all the data examined by the query.
# Size limit for the whole join join_buffer_space_limit = 300M # Limit for each individual table join_buffer_size = 100M
Turn on index_merge/sort-intersection:
If your queries examine big fraction of the tables (somewhere more than ~ 30%), turn on hash join:
# Turn on both Hash Join and Batched Key Access join_cache_level = 8