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MySQL-INDEX - how long to create an index?

Can anyone tell me how adding a key scales in MySQL? I have 500,000,000 rows in a database, trans, with columns i (INT UNSIGNED), j (INT UNSIGNED), nu (DOUBLE), A (DOUBLE). I try to index a column, e.g.
ALTER TABLE trans ADD KEY idx_A (A);
and I wait. For a table of 14,000,000 rows it took about 2 minutes to execute on my MacBook Pro, but for the whole half a billion, it's taking 15hrs and counting. Am I doing something wrong, or am I just being naive about how indexing a database scales with the number of rows?

asked Sep 22, 2013 in MYSQL by rajesh
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