Oracle Scratchpad

November 12, 2014

Parallel Fun

Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle,Parallel Execution,subqueries — Jonathan Lewis @ 4:42 pm BST Nov 12,2014

As I write, there’s an ongoing thread on Oracle-L that started with the (paraphrased) question: “I’ve got this query that returns 7 million rows; when I change it to ‘select count(*)’ it returns in 4 seconds but when we display the full result set on screen it takes hours, and every second or two the screen pauses; how do I make it go faster.”

The general rapid response was: “You shouldn’t be running 7M rows to a screen – the time is the time for the network traffic and display.”

The first part of the statement is right – the second part is quite likely to be wrong and there’s a very strong hint in the question that makes me say that, it’s the “pauses every second or two”. Of course we don’t know what the OP isn’t telling us, and we don’t know how accurate he is in what he is telling us, so any ideas we have may be completely wrong. For example, we haven’t been given any idea of how long a “pause” is, we don’t really know how accurate that “second or two” might be and whether “every” is an exaggeration, and maybe the query is returning CLOB columns (and that could make a big difference to what you can do to improve performance).

If we take the statement at face value, though, there is one very obvious inference: although some of the time will be due to network traffic time, most of the time is probably due to Oracle doing something expensive for a significant fraction of the rows returned. The pattern of activity probably looks like this:

  • client: call server to fetch next array of rows
  • server: spend some time populating array  — this is where the client sees a pause
  • client: display result array
  • client: call server to fetch next array of rows
  •  etc…

Here’s a trivial example:

connect / as sysdba
set arraysize 500
set pagesize 40

select
        o1.spare1 ,
        (
        select  max((ctime))
        from    obj$    o2
        where   o2.owner# = o1.owner#
        and     o2.obj# < o1.obj#
        ) ct
from obj$ o1
;

On my laptop, running an instance of 11.2.0.4 with about 80,000 rows in obj$ (and a lot of them owned by SYS), I can count seconds and find that (approximately) I alternate between one second watching results scrolling up the screen and one second waiting as the server generates the next 500 rows.

Of course it’s possible to argue that the problem really is the network and nothing but the network struggling to cope with the never-ending stream of little packets produced by 7M rows. Could there be a choke point that causes the data to stop and start with great regularity, maybe – but previous experience says probably not. I have experienced bad network problems in the past, but when they’ve occurred I’ve always observed extremely random stop/go behaviour. The regularity implied in the question makes the Oracle-based problem seem far more likely.

Conveniently a couple of people asked for more clues – like the query text and the execution plan; even more conveniently the OP supplied the answers in this response. Since the email format makes them a little hard to read I’ve copied them here:


SELECT  bunch of stuff.....,

        (
                SELECT  RTRIM(XMLSERIALIZE(CONTENT EXTRACT( XMLAGG(XMLELEMENT("e", sr1.RELATED_SID
                        ||
                        ',')
                ORDER BY sr1.RELATED_SID), '//text()' ) ) , ',' )
                FROM    service_relationship sr1
                WHERE   sr1.SID                    = slv.SID
                        AND sr1.RELATIONSHIP_LEVEL = '1'
                GROUP BY sr1.SID
        ) AS RELATEDSERVICEINSTANCEIDLEVEL1,
        (
                SELECT  RTRIM(XMLSERIALIZE(CONTENT EXTRACT( XMLAGG(XMLELEMENT("e", sr2.RELATED_SID
                        ||
                        ',')
                ORDER BY sr2.RELATED_SID), '//text()' ) ) , ',' )
                FROM    service_relationship sr2
                WHERE   sr2.SID                    = slv.SID
                        AND sr2.RELATIONSHIP_LEVEL = '2'
                GROUP BY sr2.SID
        ) AS RELATEDSERVICEINSTANCEIDLEVEL2,
        (
               SELECT  RTRIM(XMLSERIALIZE(CONTENT EXTRACT( XMLAGG(XMLELEMENT("e", sr3.RELATED_SID
                        ||
                        ',')
                ORDER BY sr3.RELATED_SID), '//text()' ) ) , ',' )
                FROM    service_relationship sr3
                WHERE   sr3.SID                    = slv.SID
                        AND sr3.RELATIONSHIP_LEVEL = '3'
                GROUP BY sr3.SID
        ) AS RELATEDSERVICEINSTANCEIDLEVEL3,
        (
                SELECT  RTRIM(XMLSERIALIZE(CONTENT EXTRACT( XMLAGG(XMLELEMENT("e", sr4.RELATED_SID
                        ||
                        ',')
                ORDER BY sr4.RELATED_SID), '//text()' ) ) , ',' )
                FROM    service_relationship sr4
                WHERE   sr4.SID                    = slv.SID
                        AND sr4.RELATIONSHIP_LEVEL = '4'
                GROUP BY sr4.SID
        ) AS RELATEDSERVICEINSTANCEIDLEVEL4,
        (
                SELECT  RTRIM(XMLSERIALIZE(CONTENT EXTRACT( XMLAGG(XMLELEMENT("e", sr5.RELATED_SID
                        ||
                        ',')
                ORDER BY sr5.RELATED_SID), '//text()' ) ) , ',' )
                FROM    service_relationship sr5
                WHERE   sr5.SID                    = slv.SID
                        AND sr5.RELATIONSHIP_LEVEL = '5'
                GROUP BY sr5.SID
        ) AS RELATEDSERVICEINSTANCEIDLEVEL5
FROM    service_lookup slv
        LEFT JOIN service_location sl
        ON      sl.service_location_id = slv.service_location_id;

PLAN_TABLE_OUTPUT
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Plan hash value: 1570133209

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                        | Name                 | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |    TQ  |IN-OUT| PQ Distrib |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT                 |                      |  7331K|  5593M|  1877   (5)| 00:00:01 |        |      |            |
|   1 |  SORT GROUP BY                   |                      |     1 |    22 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |        |      |            |
|   2 |   PX COORDINATOR                 |                      |       |       |            |          |        |      |            |
|   3 |    PX SEND QC (RANDOM)           | :TQ10000             |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,00 | P->S | QC (RAND)  |
|   4 |     PX BLOCK ITERATOR            |                      |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,00 | PCWC |            |
|*  5 |      TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL   | SERVICE_RELATIONSHIP |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q1,00 | PCWP |            |
|   6 |  SORT GROUP BY                   |                      |     1 |    22 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |        |      |            |
|   7 |   PX COORDINATOR                 |                      |       |       |            |          |        |      |            |
|   8 |    PX SEND QC (RANDOM)           | :TQ20000             |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q2,00 | P->S | QC (RAND)  |
|   9 |     PX BLOCK ITERATOR            |                      |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q2,00 | PCWC |            |
|* 10 |      TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL   | SERVICE_RELATIONSHIP |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q2,00 | PCWP |            |
|  11 |  SORT GROUP BY                   |                      |     1 |    22 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |        |      |            |
|  12 |   PX COORDINATOR                 |                      |       |       |            |          |        |      |            |
|  13 |    PX SEND QC (RANDOM)           | :TQ30000             |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q3,00 | P->S | QC (RAND)  |
|  14 |     PX BLOCK ITERATOR            |                      |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q3,00 | PCWC |            |
|* 15 |      TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL   | SERVICE_RELATIONSHIP |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q3,00 | PCWP |            |
|  16 |  SORT GROUP BY                   |                      |     1 |    22 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |        |      |            |
|  17 |   PX COORDINATOR                 |                      |       |       |            |          |        |      |            |
|  18 |    PX SEND QC (RANDOM)           | :TQ40000             |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q4,00 | P->S | QC (RAND)  |
|  19 |     PX BLOCK ITERATOR            |                      |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q4,00 | PCWC |            |
|* 20 |      TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL   | SERVICE_RELATIONSHIP |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q4,00 | PCWP |            |
|  21 |  SORT GROUP BY                   |                      |     1 |    22 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |        |      |            |
|  22 |   PX COORDINATOR                 |                      |       |       |            |          |        |      |            |
|  23 |    PX SEND QC (RANDOM)           | :TQ50000             |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q5,00 | P->S | QC (RAND)  |
|  24 |     PX BLOCK ITERATOR            |                      |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q5,00 | PCWC |            |
|* 25 |      TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL   | SERVICE_RELATIONSHIP |    25 |   550 |   368   (6)| 00:00:01 |  Q5,00 | PCWP |            |
|  26 |  PX COORDINATOR                  |                      |       |       |            |          |        |      |            |
|  27 |   PX SEND QC (RANDOM)            | :TQ60002             |  7331K|  5593M|  1877   (5)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,02 | P->S | QC (RAND)  |
|* 28 |    HASH JOIN RIGHT OUTER BUFFERED|                      |  7331K|  5593M|  1877   (5)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,02 | PCWP |            |
|  29 |     PX RECEIVE                   |                      |  3175K|   920M|   366   (3)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,02 | PCWP |            |
|  30 |      PX SEND HASH                | :TQ60000             |  3175K|   920M|   366   (3)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,00 | P->P | HASH       |
|  31 |       PX BLOCK ITERATOR          |                      |  3175K|   920M|   366   (3)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,00 | PCWC |            |
|  32 |        TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL | SERVICE_LOCATION     |  3175K|   920M|   366   (3)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,00 | PCWP |            |
|  33 |     PX RECEIVE                   |                      |  7331K|  3467M|  1507   (5)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,02 | PCWP |            |
|  34 |      PX SEND HASH                | :TQ60001             |  7331K|  3467M|  1507   (5)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,01 | P->P | HASH       |
|  35 |       PX BLOCK ITERATOR          |                      |  7331K|  3467M|  1507   (5)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,01 | PCWC |            |
|  36 |        TABLE ACCESS STORAGE FULL | SERVICE_LOOKUP       |  7331K|  3467M|  1507   (5)| 00:00:01 |  Q6,01 | PCWP |            |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We have a simple two-table outer join, and five scalar subqueries in the select list. (Not being very familiar with the various XML calls I had no idea of what the scalar subqueries were doing, or how they produced a result, beyond the fact that they were querying and aggregating multiple rows. In fact the combination of calls does much the same as listagg(), though it allows for a CLOB result (which could be part of the performance problem, of course) rather than being limited to a varchar2() result).

Would you like to guess at this point why I constructed my demonstration query again obj$ the way I did when presenting the idea of high-cost per row queries as a reason for regular pauses in the output ? The execution plan matched one of my two initial guesses about what the query was going to look like. When you “select count(*) from {this query}”, the optimizer will factor out the scalar subqueries and only have to count the result set from the hash join – and it might even manage to use a couple of parallel index fast full scans to get that result rather than doing the tablescans. When you run the query you have to run the scalar subqueries.

If we trust the statistics, we have 5 subqueries to run for each row of the hash join – and the hash join is predicted to return 7.3 million rows. Given that the subqueries are all going to run parallel tablescans against a fairly large table (note – the cost of the tablescans on SERVICE_RELATIONSHIP is 368, compared to the cost of the tablescan on SERVICE_LOCATION which is 366 to return 3.1M rows) that’s an awful lot of work for each row returned – unless we benefit from an enormous amount of scalar subquery caching.

Here’s another performance threat that the plan shows, though: notice where the PX SEND QC operation appears – that means the PX slaves send their (7M) rows to the Query Co-ordinator and the QC is responsible for doing all the work of running the scalar subqueries. Another interesting little threat visible in the plan shows up in the TQ column – the plan uses six “data flow operations” (using the original naming convention, though that changed some time ago but survived in the column names of v$pq_tqstat). In principle each DFO could allocate two sets of PX slaves (and every DFO could have a different degree of parallelism); in this example DFO number 6 (the driving hash join) uses two sets of slave, and the other five DFOs (the scalar subqueries) use a single set each. The upshot of this is that if the default degree of parallelism in play is N this query will allocate 7N parallel query slaves. It gets a little nastier than that, though (based on checking the output from v$sql_plan_monitor), because each time one of the scalar subqueries runs Oracle seems to allocate and deallocate the slaves that are supposed to run it – which is probably going to cause some contention if there are other parallel queries trying to run at the same time.

Optimisation

So what could you do with this query ? It depends on how much change you want to make to the code.

It’s possible that an index on service_relationship(relationship_level, sid) – with compress 1 – might help if it’s very precise, and if the target table stays in the buffer cache for the duration of the query – but, in the absence scalar subquery caching that could still leave the query co-ordinator executing 35 million (5 queries x 7 million rows) subqueries in a serialised process.

A better bet may be to convert from subqueries to joins – remembering that the listagg() / xmlserialize() calls will require you to aggregate (which means sorting in this case) an estimated 25 rows per driving row per relationship_level; in other words you may need to sort 7M * 125 = 875M rows – but at least you could do that in parallel, and there’s always the possibility that the estimated 25 drops off as you work through the different levels. You could choose to do 5 outer hash joins or (as Iggy Fernandez outlined in the thread) you could do a single outer join with a decode on the relationship_level. Another variation on this theme (which would probably have a plan showing ‘join then aggregate’) would be to ‘aggregate then join’. It’s possible that creating a non-mergeable inline view for the 5 values of relationsip_level from a single table access, aggregating it to produce the five required columns, then using the result in an outer join, would be the most efficient option. In the absence of a detailed understanding of the data volume and patterns it’s hard to make any prediction of which strategy would work best.

Footnote:

I may be wrong in my analysis of this problem. When I first saw the question the reason for the performance pattern suggested an “obvious” design error in either the SQL or the infrastructure, and when I saw that the query and execution plan matched my prediction it became very hard for me to think that there might be some other significant cause.

There were a couple of interesting details in the execution plan that made me pursue the problem a little more. In the first case I built a very simple model to get an estimate of the time needed to display 7M rows of a reasonable width in SQL*Plus running across a typical LAN (my estimate was in the order of 45 minutes – not hours); then I spent a little more time (about 10 minutes) to build a model that reproduced the key features of the execution plan shown.

I then spent two or three hours playing with the model, and I’ll be writing a further blog with some of the results later on. One detail to carry away today, though, is that in 12c Oracle can do a new form of subquery unnesting which transformed the query from its 5 scalar subquery form into the seven table join form that was one of the suggestions made on the thread; even more interestingly, if I blocked the unnesting (to force the subquery execution) Oracle 12.1.0.2 came up with a new operator (EXPRESSION EVALUATION) that allowed it to run the subqueries from the PX slaves before passing the results to the query co-ordinator – in other words eliminating the serialisation point.

To be continued …

1 Comment »

  1. […] may recall that an example of this type of behaviour, and its side effects when the scalar subqueries executed as independently as parallel queries, […]

    Pingback by Parallel Query | Oracle Scratchpad — May 12, 2015 @ 7:23 pm BST May 12,2015 | Reply


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