Oracle Scratchpad

September 9, 2013

Parallel Execution

Filed under: Oracle,Parallel Execution,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:51 am BST Sep 9,2013

While checking out potential scalability threats recently on a client system, I was directed to a time-critical task that was currently executing the same PL/SQL procedure 16 times (with different parameters) between 6:00 and 7:00 am; as the system went through its next phase of expansion the number of executions of this procedure was likely to grow. An interesting detail, though, was that nothing else was going on while the task was running so the machine (which had 6 cores) was running at 16% CPU.

An obvious strategy for handling the required growth target was to make sure that four (possibly 5) copies of the procedure were allowed to run concurrently. Fortunately the different executions were completely independent of each other and didn’t interfere with each other’s data, so the solution simply required a mechanism to control the parallelism. Conveniently 11gR2 gave us one.

August 9, 2013

12c Join Views

Filed under: 12c,Oracle,Performance,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:36 pm BST Aug 9,2013

There are a couple of posts on the blog describing problems with updateable join views or, to be more precise, join views which were key-preserved but which the optimizer did not recognize as key-preserved. Both scenarios are addressed in 12c:

May 22, 2013

gather_plan_statistics – 2

Filed under: Oracle,Performance,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 12:40 pm BST May 22,2013

Some time ago – actually a few years ago – I wrote a note about the hint /*+ gather_plan_statistics */ making some informal comments about the implementation and relevant hidden parameters. I’ve recently discovered a couple of notes from Alexander Anokhin describing the feature in far more detail and describing some of the misleading side effects of the implementaiton. There are two parts (so far): part 1 and part 2.


May 13, 2013

Parse Time

Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle,Performance,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:59 pm BST May 13,2013

Dominic Brooks published a note recently about some very nasty SQL – originally thinking that it was displaying a run-time problem due to the extreme number of copies of the lnnvl() function the optimizer had produced. In fact it turned out to be a parse-time problem rather than a run-time problem, but when I first read Dominic’s note I was sufficiently surprised that I decided to try modelling the query.


May 5, 2013


Filed under: Oracle,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:21 pm BST May 5,2013

Anyone who has used Kevin Closson’s “Silly Little Oracle Benchmark” will want to know about his significantly updated SLOB2.

February 11, 2013

Optimisation ?

Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 2:05 pm BST Feb 11,2013

I was at a client site recently where one of the end-users seemed to have discovered a cunning strategy for optimising a critical SQL statement. His problem was that his query screen times out after 2 minutes, so any query he runs has to complete in less than two minutes or he doesn’t see the results. Unfortunately he had a particular query which took nearly 32 minutes from cold to complete – partly because it’s a seven-table join using ANSI OUTER joins, against tables ranging through the 10s of millions of rows and gigabytes of data – the (necessary) tablescan of the table that had to be first in the join order took 70 seconds alone.

But our intrepid user seems to have made an important discovery and engineered a solution to his performance problem. I think he’s noticed that when you run a query twice in a row the second execution is often faster than the first. I can’t think of any other reason why the same person would run the same query roughly every four minutes between 8:00 and 9:00 am every morning (and then do the same again around 5:00 in the afternoon).

Looking at the SQL Monitoring screen around 10:00 the first day I was on-site I noticed this query with a very pretty graphic effect of gradually shrinking blue bars as 32 minutes of I/O turned into 2 minutes of CPU over the course of 8 consecutive executions which reported run times something like:  32 minutes, 25 minutes, 18 minutes, 12 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes, 2.1 minutes, 2 minutes.

It’s lucky (for that user) that the db_cache_size is 60GB. On the other hand this machine is one of those Solaris boxes that likes to pretend that it’s got 128 CPUs when really it’s only 16 cores with 8 lightweight threads per core – you don’t want anyone running a query that uses 2 solid CPU minute on one of those boxes because it’s taking out 1/16th of your CPU availability, while reporting a load of 1/128 of your CPUs.

Footnote: the query can be optimised (properly) – it accessed roughly 100M rows of data to return roughly 300 rows (with no aggregation), so we just need to do a little bit of work on precise access paths.

October 19, 2012


Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:48 pm BST Oct 19,2012

I came across a nice bit of code on OTN recently that someone had written several years ago (in 2007, in fact)  to demonstrate the different ways in which the optimizer would handle “select count({something}) from table;”. If you want to copy and repeat the test code, you may need to adjust it slightly – it references a type vc2s, which I changed to dbms_stats.chararray, and it references a plan table called toad_plan_table, which I replaced with references to the standard plan_table (getting rid of the truncate as I did so).

The code simply executes a call to explain plan for different statements, then extracts the projection information for the “sort aggregate” line of the execution plan (examining the operation and options columns to do so). The thing that particularly surprised me was that there was a difference between the following two queries:

October 5, 2012


Filed under: Exadata,Infrastructure,Oracle,Performance,redo — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:04 pm BST Oct 5,2012

There’s never enough time to read everything that’s worth reading, so even though Guy Harrison’s blog is one of the ones worth reading I find that it’s often months since I last read it. Visiting it late last night, I found an interesting batch of articles spread over the last year about the performance of SSD – the conclusions may not be what you expect, but make sure you read all the articles or you might end up with a completely misleading impression:

Don’t forget to read the comments as well. For other notes Guy has written about SSD, here’s a URL for his SSD tag.

July 11, 2012

Proactive Tuning

Filed under: Oracle,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:25 pm BST Jul 11,2012

There’s no such thing as proactive tuning. Either you do it right before it goes into production (in which case it’s called “design”) or you react to the nasty surprises you get after it’s gone live.

Even if you do something about the problems before anyone has complained that’s still “reactive” not “proactive” – and the trick is to be reactive as soon as possible. For most companies the best strategy is probably to stick a big screen on the wall with the “Top Activity” page from OEM (or equivalent) so that the key players (DBAs and Developers) can keep a casual eye out for resource hogs and prioritise dealing with them as they appear.

Footnote: if you fall into that rare group of people who can look at what’s currently happening, identify the design errors, and explain how to fix them before the performance starts to nose-dive, then I’ll let you say you’re doing proactive tuning; but personally I tend to call that process “eliminating design errors”.

June 4, 2012

Subpartition stats

Filed under: CBO,Execution plans,Oracle,Performance,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:07 am BST Jun 4,2012

You might have expected the following query ought to run reasonably efficiently, after all it seems to be targeted very accurately at precisely the few rows of information I’m interested in:

	owner             = 'TEST_USER'
and 	table_name        = 'TEST_COMP'
and	subpartition_name = 'P_MAX_D'


May 23, 2012

Logical tuning

Filed under: Hints,Ignoring Hints,Oracle,Performance,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:22 pm BST May 23,2012

Here’s a model of a problem I solved quite recently at a client site. The client’s query was much more complex and the volume of data much larger, but this tiny, two table, example is sufficient to demonstrate the key principle. (Originally I thought I’d have to use three tables to model the problem, which is why you may find my choice of table names a little odd). I ran this example on – which was the client version:

April 23, 2012


Filed under: Function based indexes,Indexing,Oracle,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:43 pm BST Apr 23,2012

There are many little bits and pieces lurking in the Oracle code set that would be very useful if only you had had time to notice them. Here’s one that seems to be virtually unknown, yet does a wonderful job of eliminating calls to decode().

The nvl2() function takes three parameters, returning the third if the first is null and returning the second if the first is not null. This is  convenient for all sorts of example where you might otherwise use an expression involving  case or decode(), but most particularly it’s a nice little option if you want to create a function-based index that indexes only those rows where a column is null.

March 4, 2012


Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle,Performance,trace files — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:41 pm BST Mar 4,2012

A recent posting on the newsgroup pointed me to a rather elderly Ask Tom question (originally posed in July 2004, last updated June 2011) where Tom produced an extraordinary observation. The response times for the following two queries are completely different (on Oracle 9.2 on his data set):


February 21, 2012

Not In – 2

Filed under: CBO,Execution plans,Oracle,Performance,subqueries,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 9:24 pm BST Feb 21,2012

My note on “NOT IN” subqueries is one of the most popular on my blog, staying in the top 5 hits for the last five years – but it’s getting a bit old, so it’s about time I said something new about “NOT IN” – especially since the Null Aware Anti Join has been around such a long time. The example I want to talk about is, as so often, something that came up as a problem on a customer site. Here’s a bit of SQL to model the situation, which is currently running under Oracle


February 9, 2012

Session SQL

Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle,Performance — Jonathan Lewis @ 10:48 am BST Feb 9,2012

From time to time a request for a query to “show the current SQL” for each session appears on the internet. It’s not really difficult to write something suitable, but this particular request is an interesting demonstration of how much inertia there is in the Oracle world. Here’s a recent suggestion of what the query should look like:

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