DeleteRange is an operation designed to replace the following pattern where a user wants to delete a range of keys in the range [start, end):

...Slice start, end;// set start and endauto it = db->NewIterator(ReadOptions());for (it->Seek(start); cmp->Compare(it->key(), end) < 0; it->Next()) {  db->Delete(WriteOptions(), it->key());}...

This pattern requires performing a range scan, which prevents it from being an atomic operation, and makes it unsuitable for any performance-sensitive write path. To mitigate this, RocksDB provides a native operation to perform this task:

...Slice start, end;// set start and enddb->DeleteRange(WriteOptions(), start, end);...

Under the hood, this creates a range tombstone represented as a single kv, which significantly speeds up write performance. Read performance with range tombstones is competitive to the scan-and-delete pattern. (For a more detailed performance analysis, see the DeleteRange blog post.

For implementation details, see this page.