Since union queries were introduced in MySQL 4.0.0, they have been processed by executing each part of the union and adding the result to a temporary table. Then a final query block is executed that, if needed, filters out duplicates, do global ordering and limit the number of output rows. The good thing about this method is that it works for all union queries. The bad thing is that it always uses a temporary table, even in the really simple cases, and there’s always an extra query block to execute, even if there’s no sorting and no duplicate filtering.
As of MySQL 5.7.3, UNION ALL doesn’t use temporary tables unless needed for sorting. The result of each part of the union will be sent directly back to the client, without waiting in a temporary table or passing through an extra query block. When 5.7.3 came out, Facebook (who filed the feature request for …[Read more]