Oracle Scratchpad

March 14, 2014

12c Temporary

Filed under: 12c,Infrastructure,Oracle,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:41 pm BST Mar 14,2014

Just one of those little snippets to cover something new and remind of something old. A single session can now have three (or more) temporary tablespaces in use at the same time for different reasons.

  • In 12c you can set parameter temp_undo_enabled to true, at which point the undo relating to global temporary tables (GTTs) will be written into the database default temporary tablespace, which means it won’t generate redo. As an interesting side effect this also means that you can do DML on temporary objects in a physical standby database. Currently the undo segment shows as type “UNDEFINED” in v$sort_usage. A detail to watch out for, though – it looks as if each session may get its own temporary undo segment – so be careful about specifying the extent size and tempfile size for the database default temporary tablespace.
  • In 11g you can specify a tablespace (though not a tablespace group) in the ‘create global temporary table’ statement, which means you keep activity about GTTs separated from the I/O resulting from sorts and hash joins etc. spilling to disc; in fact you could specify a different temporary tablespace for every GTT if you wanted to – and I could imagine a case for having a couple of different temporary tablespaces to accommodate GTTs with very different usage characteristics. (Unfortunately you still can’t specify a tablespace in the dbms_lob.create_temporary() function).  If you don’t specify a tablespace for a GTT it will go into the default temporary tablespace of the user who is using it (not the database default, and not the default for the definer of the GTT). If you create indexes on a GTT they will automatically go into the same tablespace as the table.
  • Finally, of course, there’s the default temporary tablespace for the user and this is where GTTs will go if they don’t have a tablespace specified, and where all the scratch data (sorts, hash tables, factored subqueries et. al.) will go.

This combination means, of course, that you could manage to do a single “insert as select” writing a GTT to one temporary tablespace, with its undo going to a second temporary tablespace, and the spill from a sort or hash join in the select going to a third. The flexibility probably won’t make much difference to performance (for most people), but it’s possible that it will make it easier to monitor where the work is coming from if you’r ever in the position where your single temporary tablespace is subject to a lot of I/O.


In the past I’ve advised DBAs to set up a small number of tablespaces (or tablespace groups) so that they can allocate different classes of users – typically grouped by business function – to different temporary tablespaces. The ability to allocate GTTs to temporary tablespaces allows a further degree of refinement to this strategy.

September 2, 2011


Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:15 pm BST Sep 2,2011

A question that comes up from time to time on the OTN forums is the one about how much undo do you generate when you insert or update a row. It’s not a question that has an immediate answer – it depends on what you’re actually doing, the amount of change you introduce, and the number of indexes affected. However, there are a few guidelines that will point you in the right direction – and the key is to keep an eye on the used_urec and used_ublk colummns from v$transactions.

Consider the example of inserting data: when you insert a row, you typically generate one undo record (used_urec) for the row, but when you insert many rows using an array insert Oracle has an optimisation mechanism on undo record creation that allows it to create one used_urec to cover all the changes you have made simultaneously to an individual block - so used_urec could be much smaller than the number of rows processed.

However, if you have indexes in place and are doing normal index maintenance on import, then each table row would require each index to be updated, so you would go back to one used_urec per table row plus one used_urec per index maintained per table row.

So, when you look at the “big picture” there’s no obvious correlation between rows inserted and undo generated — until you look at the fine detail of exactly what you’re doing, and whether any optimisations apply. (The details of the optimisation strategies available vary with the chosen insert mechanisms and with version of Oracle)

Just for reference, here’s a link to a little note I wrote some months ago about monitoring undo.

May 8, 2011

Consistent Gets

Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,Read Consistency,Troubleshooting,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 10:09 am BST May 8,2011

There’s an interesting question on the OTN database forum at present – why does an update of 300,000 rows take a billion buffer visits. (There are 25 indexes on the table – so you might point a finger at that initially, but only one of the indexes is going to be changed by the update so that should only account for around an extra 10 gets per row in a clean environment.)

April 19, 2011

More CR

Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,Performance,Read Consistency,Troubleshooting,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:32 pm BST Apr 19,2011

Following on from yesterday’s post on consistent reads, I thought I’d make the point that the way you work can make an enormous difference to the amount of work you do. Here’s a silly little demo (in

April 18, 2011

Consistent Reads

Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,Performance,Read Consistency,Troubleshooting,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 11:08 am BST Apr 18,2011

Here’s a quick demo to make a point about consistent reads (prompted by a question on the Oracle-L mailing list):

December 23, 2010

Private Redo

Filed under: redo,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 10:17 am BST Dec 23,2010

About this time last year I wrote a short answer on OTN about Private Redo Threads and In-Memory Undo. Thanks to a follow-up question a year later I’ve been prompted to supply a link to my original answer because it was actually pretty good: OTN Thread “In Memory Undo”.

Update: If you’re looking at this note and haven’t expanded the view to see the comments, make sure that you do look at them since they include a couple of technical details I described in response to follow-up questions.

September 22, 2010

Session Undo

Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,Troubleshooting,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:40 pm BST Sep 22,2010

One of the simple scripts I use from time to time monitors the amount of undo generated by a long running session by taking a session id (SID) as an input and joining v$session to v$transaction:

column start_scn format 999,999,999,999

        tr.start_scn, tr.log_io, tr.phy_io, tr.used_ublk, tr.used_urec, recursive
        v$session       se,
        V$transaction   tr
        se.sid = &1
and     tr.ses_addr = se.saddr

---------------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ---
 136,509,466,121   10730956     358074          1          1 NO
 136,515,115,543         12          0          1          3 YES

You’ll note that this is a session that has been doing quite a lot of work (log_io = db block gets + db block changes, and phy_io = physical reads). I was watching it because I wanted to check that it was only generating undo in a series of very short recursive transactions. (It’s running a coalesce on a very large, very smashed, index).

Interestingly the work done by the recursive transactions for the coalesce was accounted for against the parent transaction, even though (fortunately) the undo block and record usage was not. The used_urec and used_ublk columns can best be described as showing you “currently held” space, rather than “cumulative space used”.

Addendum: with reference to Gary’s comment below – here’s a lovely little script – originally written for 9i, but still working) from Steve Adams for estimating how long it will take for rolling back to complete. Note that it references sys.x_$ktuxe; Steve has a convention of creating “x_” views on the x$ objects when there is no v$ view supplied by Oracle, so x_$ktuxe is just a sys-owned view defined as ‘select * from x$ktuxe’.

February 9, 2010

Why Undo ?

Filed under: Infrastructure,redo,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:32 pm BST Feb 9,2010

A recent thread on the OTN database forum asks the question:

“… since redo also has past and current information why can’t redo logs be used to retrieve that information? Why is undo required when redo already has all that information.”

The thread has generated some interesting replies – but to a large extent they describe how the undo and redo work rather than explaining why the designers at Oracle Corp. chose to implement undo and redo the way they did. Since I’m sitting in an airport (Zurich – where the coffee bar in the business lounge has a very large bowl of Lindt chocolate squares available) waiting for a plane I thought I’d use the time to share my thoughts on the why.


October 14, 2009

Nutshell – 1

Filed under: Infrastructure,redo,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:22 pm BST Oct 14,2009

Undo, redo, and recovery in a nutshell. (The “1″ in the title may turn out to be optimistic, I offer no guarantee about further nutshells.)

In the most general case of updating a block – when you change one row in an table, say, or mark an index entry as deleted – Oracle does the following:

October 7, 2009


Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,Troubleshooting,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:17 pm BST Oct 7,2009

Here’s a little problem that was thrown at me a little while ago during a visit to a client of mine. It only took about five minutes to fix, but it seemed like a nice demonstration of trouble-shooting so I thought I’d write it up for the blog.

We start with the moment when one of the developers told me that they were seeing lots of session failing with the error “unable to extend segment in undo tablespace”.

March 22, 2009

Block size – again

Filed under: Block Size,Infrastructure,Performance,trace files,Troubleshooting,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:09 pm BST Mar 22,2009

Here’s a little oddity that I came across at a client site recently.

The client called me in because they were having problems with Oracle error “ORA-01555: snapshot too old” appearing in a particular task after a few thousand seconds (typically 5,000 to 6,000) even though they had set the undo_retention to 14,400 seconds and had a huge undo tablespace running with autoextend enabled on the data files.


November 22, 2006

Tuning Updates

Filed under: Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle,redo,Tuning,undo — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:45 pm BST Nov 22,2006

Consider the following update statement:

        /*+ index(t1 t1_n1) */
        n1 = 0,
        n2 = n2 + 1,
        status = 'X'
        n1 > 100
and     status = 'A'


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