Skip to main content

Engines and scalability

The Engine in Centrifugo is responsible for publishing messages between nodes, handle PUB/SUB broker subscriptions, save/retrieve online presence and history data.

By default, Centrifugo uses a Memory engine. There are also Redis and Tarantool engines available. And Nats broker which also supports at most once PUB/SUB. Centrifugo also works with Redis-compatible storages such as AWS Elasticache, KeyDB, DragonflyDB.

With default Memory engine you can start only one node of Centrifugo, while other engines allow running several nodes on different machines to scale client connections and for Centrifugo node high availability. In distributed case all Centrifugo nodes will be connected via broker PUB/SUB, will discover each other and deliver publications to the node where active channel subscribers exist.

Memory engine keeps history and presence data in process memory, so the data is lost upon server restart. When using Redis Engine the data is kept in Redis (where you can configure desired persistence properties) instead of Centrifugo node process memory, so channel history data won't be lost after Centrifugo server restart.

To set engine you can use engine configuration option. Available values are memory, redis, tarantool. The default value is memory.

For example to work with Redis engine:

"engine": "redis"

Memory engine

Used by default. Supports only one node. Nice choice to start with. Supports all features keeping everything in Centrifugo node process memory. You don't need to install Redis when using this engine.


  • Super fast since it does not involve network at all
  • Does not require separate broker setup


  • Does not allow scaling nodes (actually you still can scale Centrifugo with Memory engine but you have to publish data into each Centrifugo node and you won't have consistent history and presence state throughout Centrifugo nodes)
  • Does not persist message history in channels between Centrifugo restarts.

Redis engine

Redis is an open-source, in-memory data structure store, used as a database, cache, and message broker.

Centrifugo Redis engine allows scaling Centrifugo nodes to different machines. Nodes will use Redis as a message broker (utilizing Redis PUB/SUB for node communication) and keep presence and history data in Redis.

Minimal Redis version is 5.0.1

With Redis it's possible to come to the architecture like this:


Redis engine options

Several configuration options related to Redis engine.


String, default "" - Redis server address.


String, default "" - Redis password.


String, default "" - Redis user for ACL-based auth.


Integer, default 0 - number of Redis db to use.


String, default "centrifugo" – custom prefix to use for channels and keys in Redis.


Boolean, default false – turns on using Redis Lists instead of Stream data structure for keeping history (not recommended, keeping this for backwards compatibility mostly).


Boolean, default false. If set to true it forces using RESP2 protocol for communicating with Redis. By default, Redis client used by Centrifugo tries to detect supported Redis protocol automatically trying RESP3 first.

Configuring Redis TLS

Some options may help you configuring TLS-protected communication between Centrifugo and Redis.


Boolean, default false - enable Redis TLS connection.


Boolean, default false - disable Redis TLS host verification. Centrifugo v4 also supports alias for this option – redis_tls_skip_verify – but it will be removed in v5.


String, default "" – path to TLS cert file. If you prefer passing certificate as a string instead of path to the file then use redis_tls_cert_pem option.


String, default "" – path to TLS key file. If you prefer passing cert key as a string instead of path to the file then use redis_tls_key_pem option.


String, default "" – path to TLS root CA file (in PEM format) to use. If you prefer passing root CA PEM as a string instead of path to the file then use redis_tls_root_ca_pem option.


String, default "" – used to verify the hostname on the returned certificates. It is also included in the client's handshake to support virtual hosting unless it is an IP address.

Scaling with Redis tutorial

Let's see how to start several Centrifugo nodes using the Redis Engine. We will start 3 Centrifugo nodes and all those nodes will be connected via Redis.

First, you should have Redis running. As soon as it's running - we can launch 3 Centrifugo instances. Open your terminal and start the first one:

centrifugo --config=config.json --port=8000 --engine=redis --redis_address=

If your Redis is on the same machine and runs on its default port you can omit redis_address option in the command above.

Then open another terminal and start another Centrifugo instance:

centrifugo --config=config.json --port=8001 --engine=redis --redis_address=

Note that we use another port number (8001) as port 8000 is already busy by our first Centrifugo instance. If you are starting Centrifugo instances on different machines then you most probably can use the same port number (8000 or whatever you want) for all instances.

And finally, let's start the third instance:

centrifugo --config=config.json --port=8002 --engine=redis --redis_address=

Now you have 3 Centrifugo instances running on ports 8000, 8001, 8002 and clients can connect to any of them. You can also send API requests to any of those nodes – as all nodes connected over Redis PUB/SUB message will be delivered to all interested clients on all nodes.

To load balance clients between nodes you can use Nginx – you can find its configuration here in the documentation.


In the production environment you will most probably run Centrifugo nodes on different hosts, so there will be no need to use different port numbers.

Here is a live example where we locally start two Centrifugo nodes both connected to local Redis:

Redis Sentinel for high availability

Centrifugo supports the official way to add high availability to Redis - Redis Sentinel.

For this you only need to utilize 2 Redis Engine options: redis_sentinel_address and redis_sentinel_master_name:

  • redis_sentinel_address (string, default "") - comma separated list of Sentinel addresses for HA. At least one known server required.
  • redis_sentinel_master_name (string, default "") - name of Redis master Sentinel monitors


  • redis_sentinel_password – optional string password for your Sentinel, works with Redis Sentinel >= 5.0.1
  • redis_sentinel_user - optional string user (used only in Redis ACL-based auth).

So you can start Centrifugo which will use Sentinels to discover Redis master instances like this:

centrifugo --config=config.json

Where config.json:

"engine": "redis",
"redis_sentinel_address": "",
"redis_sentinel_master_name": "mymaster"

Sentinel configuration file may look like this (for 3-node Sentinel setup with quorum 2):

port 26379
sentinel monitor mymaster 6379 2
sentinel down-after-milliseconds mymaster 10000
sentinel failover-timeout mymaster 60000

You can find how to properly set up Sentinels in official documentation.

Note that when your Redis master instance is down there will be a small downtime interval until Sentinels discover a problem and come to a quorum decision about a new master. The length of this period depends on Sentinel configuration.

Redis Sentinel TLS

To configure TLS for Redis Sentinel use the following options.


Boolean, default false - enable Redis TLS connection.


Boolean, default false - disable Redis TLS host verification. Centrifugo v4 also supports alias for this option – redis_sentinel_tls_skip_verify – but it will be removed in v5.


String, default "" – path to TLS cert file. If you prefer passing certificate as a string instead of path to the file then use redis_sentinel_tls_cert_pem option.


String, default "" – path to TLS key file. If you prefer passing cert key as a string instead of path to the file then use redis_sentinel_tls_key_pem option.


String, default "" – path to TLS root CA file (in PEM format) to use. If you prefer passing root CA PEM as a string instead of path to the file then use redis_sentinel_tls_root_ca_pem option.


String, default "" – used to verify the hostname on the returned certificates. It is also included in the client's handshake to support virtual hosting unless it is an IP address.

Haproxy instead of Sentinel configuration

Alternatively, you can use Haproxy between Centrifugo and Redis to let it properly balance traffic to Redis master. In this case, you still need to configure Sentinels but you can omit Sentinel specifics from Centrifugo configuration and just use Redis address as in a simple non-HA case.

For example, you can use something like this in Haproxy config:

listen redis
server redis-01 check port 6380 check inter 2s weight 1 inter 2s downinter 5s rise 10 fall 2
server redis-02 check port 6381 check inter 2s weight 1 inter 2s downinter 5s rise 10 fall 2 backup
bind *:16379
mode tcp
option tcpka
option tcplog
option tcp-check
tcp-check send PING\r\n
tcp-check expect string +PONG
tcp-check send info\ replication\r\n
tcp-check expect string role:master
tcp-check send QUIT\r\n
tcp-check expect string +OK
balance roundrobin

And then just point Centrifugo to this Haproxy:

centrifugo --config=config.json --engine=redis --redis_address="localhost:16379"

Redis sharding

Centrifugo has built-in Redis sharding support.

This resolves the situation when Redis becoming a bottleneck on a large Centrifugo setup. Redis is a single-threaded server, it's very fast but its power is not infinite so when your Redis approaches 100% CPU usage then the sharding feature can help your application to scale.

At moment Centrifugo supports a simple comma-based approach to configuring Redis shards. Let's just look at examples.

To start Centrifugo with 2 Redis shards on localhost running on port 6379 and port 6380 use config like this:

"engine": "redis",
"redis_address": [

To start Centrifugo with Redis instances on different hosts:

"engine": "redis",
"redis_address": [

If you also need to customize AUTH password, Redis DB number then you can use an extended address notation.


Due to how Redis PUB/SUB works it's not possible (and it's pretty useless anyway) to run shards in one Redis instance using different Redis DB numbers.

When sharding enabled Centrifugo will spread channels and history/presence keys over configured Redis instances using a consistent hashing algorithm. At moment we use Jump consistent hash algorithm (see paper and implementation).

Redis cluster

Running Centrifugo with Redis cluster is simple and can be achieved using redis_cluster_address option. This is an array of strings. Each element of the array is a comma-separated Redis cluster seed node. For example:

"redis_cluster_address": [

You don't need to list all Redis cluster nodes in config – only several working nodes are enough to start.

To set the same over environment variable:


If you need to shard data between several Redis clusters then simply add one more string with seed nodes of another cluster to this array:

"redis_cluster_address": [

Sharding between different Redis clusters can make sense due to the fact how PUB/SUB works in the Redis cluster. It does not scale linearly when adding nodes as all PUB/SUB messages got copied to every cluster node. See this discussion for more information on topic. To spread data between different Redis clusters Centrifugo uses the same consistent hashing algorithm described above (i.e. Jump).

To reproduce the same over environment variable use space to separate different clusters:

CENTRIFUGO_REDIS_CLUSTER_ADDRESS="localhost:30001,localhost:30002 localhost:30101,localhost:30102" CENTRIFUGO_ENGINE=redis ./centrifugo

Optimize getting presence stats

Starting from Centrifugo v5.2.1 it's possible to keep user mapping information on Redis side to optimize presence stats API.

It's implemented in a way that Centrifugo maintains additional per-user data structures in Redis. Similar to structures used for general client presence (ZSET + HASH). So we get a possibility to efficiently get both the number of clients in channel and the number of unique users in it.

This may be useful to drastically reduce the time of Redis operation if you call presence stats for channels with large number of active subscribers. In our benchmarks, for a channel with 100k unique subscribers, number of presence stats ops bumped from 15 to 200k per second.

The feature comes with a cost – it increases memory usage in Redis, possibly up to 2x from what was spent on presence information before enabling (less if you use info attached to a client connection, since Centrifugo does not include info payload to user mapping structures).

To enable set global_redis_presence_user_mapping boolean option to true:

"global_redis_presence_user_mapping": true

Other Redis compatible

When using Redis engine it's possible to point Centrifugo not only to Redis itself, but also to the other Redis compatible server. Such servers may work just fine if implement Redis protocol and support all the data structures Centrifugo uses and have PUB/SUB implemented.

Some known options:

  • AWS Elasticache – it was reported to work, but we suggest you testing the setup including failover tests and work under load.
  • KeyDB – should work fine with Centrifugo, no known problems at this point regarding Centrifugo compatibility.
  • DragonflyDB - should work fine (if you experience issues with it try enabling redis_force_resp2 option). We have not tested a Redis Cluster emulation mode provided by DragonflyDB yet. We suggest you testing the setup including failover tests and work under load.
  • Valkey – should work fine since it's based on Redis v7, but no tests were performed by Centrifugal Labs.

Tarantool engine


Tarantool is a fast and flexible in-memory storage with different persistence/replication schemes and LuaJIT for writing custom logic on the Tarantool side. It allows implementing Centrifugo engine with unique characteristics.


Tarantool engine is DEPRECATED and will be removed in Centrifugo v6. See the issue on Github.

There are many ways to operate Tarantool in production and it's hard to distribute Centrifugo Tarantool engine in a way that suits everyone. Centrifugo tries to fit generic case by providing centrifugal/tarantool-centrifuge module and by providing ready-to-use centrifugal/rotor project based on centrifugal/tarantool-centrifuge and Tarantool Cartridge.


To be honest we bet on the community help to push this integration further. Tarantool provides an incredible performance boost for presence and history operations (up to 5x more RPS compared to the Redis Engine) and a pretty fast PUB/SUB (comparable to what Redis Engine provides). Let's see what we can build together.

There are several supported Tarantool topologies to which Centrifugo can connect:

  • One standalone Tarantool instance
  • Many standalone Tarantool instances and consistently shard data between them
  • Tarantool running in Cartridge
  • Tarantool with replica and automatic failover in Cartridge
  • Many Tarantool instances (or leader-follower setup) in Cartridge with consistent client-side sharding between them
  • Tarantool with synchronous replication (Raft-based, Tarantool >= 2.7)

After running Tarantool you can point Centrifugo to it (and of course scale Centrifugo nodes):

"engine": "tarantool",
"tarantool_address": ""

See centrifugal/rotor repo for ready-to-use engine based on Tarantool Cartridge framework.

See centrifugal/tarantool-centrifuge repo for examples on how to run engine with Standalone single Tarantool instance or with Raft-based synchronous replication.

Tarantool engine options


String or array of strings. Default tcp://

Connection address to Tarantool.


String, default standalone

A mode how to connect to Tarantool. Default is standalone which connects to a single Tarantool instance address. Possible values are: leader-follower (connects to a setup with Tarantool master and async replicas) and leader-follower-raft (connects to a Tarantool with synchronous Raft-based replication).

All modes support client-side consistent sharding (similar to what Redis engine provides).


String, default "". Allows setting a user.


String, default "". Allows setting a password.

Tarantool engine limitations

  • idempotent publish is not implemented
  • delta compression for connections with positioning/recovery on is not implemented

Nats broker

It's possible to scale with Nats PUB/SUB server. Keep in mind, that Nats is called a broker here, not an Engine – Nats integration only implements PUB/SUB part of Engine, so carefully read limitations below.


  • Nats integration works only for unreliable at most once PUB/SUB. This means that history, presence, and message recovery Centrifugo features won't be available.
  • Nats wildcard channel subscriptions with symbols * and > not supported (until explicitly on using nats_allow_wildcards option).

First start Nats server:

$ nats-server
[3569] 2020/07/08 20:28:44.324269 [INF] Starting nats-server version 2.1.7
[3569] 2020/07/08 20:28:44.324400 [INF] Git commit [not set]
[3569] 2020/07/08 20:28:44.325600 [INF] Listening for client connections on
[3569] 2020/07/08 20:28:44.325612 [INF] Server id is NDAM7GEHUXAKS5SGMA3QE6ZSO4IQUJP6EL3G2E2LJYREVMAMIOBE7JT4
[3569] 2020/07/08 20:28:44.325617 [INF] Server is ready

Then start Centrifugo with broker option:

centrifugo --broker=nats --config=config.json

And one more Centrifugo on another port (of course in real life you will start another Centrifugo on another machine):

centrifugo --broker=nats --config=config.json --port=8001

Now you can scale connections over Centrifugo instances, instances will be connected over Nats server.



String, default nats://

Connection url in format nats://derek:pass@localhost:4222.


String, default centrifugo.

Prefix for channels used by Centrifugo inside Nats.


Duration, default 1s.

Timeout for dialing with Nats.


Duration, default 1s.

Write (and flush) timeout for a connection to Nats.


Available since Centrifugo v5.4.2

TLS object - allows configuring Nats client TLS.


Available since Centrifugo v5.4.2

Boolean, default false. When on – Centrifugo allows subscribing to wildcard Nats subjects (containing * and > symbols). This way client can receive messages from many channels while only having a single subscription.


Centrifugo join/leave feature won't work for wildcard channels.


Be careful with permission management in this case – wildcards allow subscribing to all channels matching a pattern, so you need to carefully design and check channel permissions in this case.

Nats raw mode

Available since Centrifugo v5.4.2

Nats raw mode when on tells Centrifugo to consume core Nats topics and not expecting any Centrifugo internal message wrapping. I.e. it allows direct mapping of Centrifugo channels to Nats topics. Your clients will simply get the raw payload Centrifugo consumed from Nats. Also note, that nats_prefix is not used when raw mode is on, if you still need some – there is an option to set prefix inside nats_raw_mode configuration option.


When using Nats raw mode join/leave feature of Centrifugo can't be used.

Here is how raw mode may be enabled:

"nats_raw_mode": {
"enabled": true,
"channel_replacements": {
":": "."
"prefix": ""

channel_replacements is a map[string]string option which allows transforming Centrifugo channel to Nats channel before subscribing and back when consuming a message from Nats. For example, in the example above we can see channel_replacements set in a way to transform chat:index Centrifugo channel to chat.index Nats topic upon subscription. Centrifugo simply replaces all occurences of symbols in channel_replacements map to corresponding values.

If you publish to Centrifugo API with raw mode enabled – publication payloads will be simply published to Nats subject without any Centrifugo-specific wrapping too.


Centrifugo PRO per-namespace engines feature provides a way to use Nats raw mode only for specific channel namespace.