Oracle Scratchpad

May 18, 2015

Migrated rows

Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:43 pm BST May 18,2015

I received an email recently describing a problem with a query which was running a full tablescan but: “almost all the waits are on ‘db file sequential read’ and the disk read is 10 times the table blocks”.  Some further information supplied was that the tablespace was using ASSM and 16KB block size; the table had 272 columns (ouch!) and the Oracle version was

In his researches he had read my article on wide rows, and had picked out of one of the comments the line: “the very bad thing about chained rows and direct reads that is that finding the rest of row by ‘db file sequential read’ is never cached”, but he wasn’t sure that this was the problem he was seeing so, very sensibly, he had re-run the query with extended tracing available, and dumped (and formatted/edited) a couple of blocks from the table.

He then sent me the trace file and block dump. Generally this is a mistake – especially when the trace file is several megabytes – but he had prepared the ground well and had linked it back to one of my blog notes, and I thought there might be an opportunity for publishing a few more comments, so I took a look. Here’s a carefully edited subset of the block dump – showing all the pertinent information:

Start dump data blocks tsn: 99 file#:100 minblk 2513181 maxblk 2513181

Block header dump:  0x1926591d
 Object id on Block? Y
 seg/obj: 0x1652a7  csc: 0x53.891880b8  itc: 12  flg: E  typ: 1 - DATA
     brn: 1  bdba: 0x1965b70c ver: 0x01 opc: 0
     inc: 84  exflg: 0

 Itl           Xid                  Uba         Flag  Lck        Scn/Fsc
0x01   0x0010.01d.0000dff9  0x2b442286.3469.09  C---    0  scn 0x0053.891880b1
0x02   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  ----    0  fsc 0x0000.00000000
0x03   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x04   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x05   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x06   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x07   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x08   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x09   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x0a   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x0b   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
0x0c   0x0000.000.00000000  0x00000000.0000.00  C---    0  scn 0x0000.00000000
bdba: 0x1926591d

data_block_dump,data header at 0x11083f154
tsiz: 0x1ea8
hsiz: 0x26
pbl: 0x11083f154
0xe:pti[0]	nrow=10	offs=0
0x12:pri[0]	offs=0x1c15
0x14:pri[1]	offs=0x197b
0x16:pri[2]	offs=0x16e1
0x18:pri[3]	offs=0x1448
0x1a:pri[4]	offs=0x11b8
0x1c:pri[5]	offs=0xf1f
0x1e:pri[6]	offs=0xc85
0x20:pri[7]	offs=0x9ec
0x22:pri[8]	offs=0x752
0x24:pri[9]	offs=0x4c5
tab 0, row 0, @0x1c15
tl: 659 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255
tab 0, row 1, @0x197b
tl: 666 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255
tab 0, row 2, @0x16e1
tl: 666 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255
tab 0, row 3, @0x1448
tl: 665 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255
tab 0, row 4, @0x11b8
tl: 656 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255
tab 0, row 5, @0xf1f
tl: 665 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255
tab 0, row 7, @0x9ec
tl: 665 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255
tab 0, row 8, @0x752
tl: 666 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255
tab 0, row 9, @0x4c5
tl: 653 fb: -----L-- lb: 0x0  cc: 255

In the ITL you can see 10 entries with the flag set to “C—-” (committed) with no XID or SCN – that’s consistent with 10 rows migrating into the block in a single transaction. In the row directory you can see the block holds 10 rows, and in the body of the block you can see the header for each of those 10 rows with 255 columns (presumably the 2nd section of each row of 272 columns), and the flag bytes set to “—–L–” (the Last piece of a chained – as opposed to simply migrated – row).

So the block dump is consistent with the possiblity of a direct path read of a block somewhere (10 head pieces) having to read this block 10 times shortly afterwards. Can we find further corroboration in the trace file? The blockdump was for block 0x1926591d = 421943581 decimal

PARSE #4573135368:c=29,e=48,p=0,cr=0,cu=0,mis=0,r=0,dep=0,og=1,plh=4116693033,tim=79008343283418
EXEC #4573135368:c=53,e=93,p=0,cr=0,cu=0,mis=0,r=0,dep=0,og=1,plh=4116693033,tim=79008343283607
WAIT #4573135368: nam='SQL*Net message to client' ela= 1 driver id=1413697536 #bytes=1 p3=0 obj#=15477650 tim=79008343283636
WAIT #4573135368: nam='Disk file operations I/O' ela= 38 FileOperation=2 fileno=101 filetype=2 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343283973
WAIT #4573135368: nam='direct path read' ela= 8991 file number=100 first dba=947580 block cnt=13 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343293041

WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 4934 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343298032
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 155 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343298216
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 127 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343298378
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 125 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343298526
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 128 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343298677
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 123 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343298826
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 134 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343298983
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 129 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343299135
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 180 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343299341
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 133 file#=100 block#=2513181 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343299497

WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 11039 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343310565
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 133 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343310730
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 139 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343310895
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 124 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343311045
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 122 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343311190
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 127 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343311339
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 125 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343311490
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 134 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343311647
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 128 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343311797
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 124 file#=100 block#=2513245 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343311947

WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 10592 file#=100 block#=2513309 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343322564
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 142 file#=100 block#=2513309 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343322740
WAIT #4573135368: nam='db file sequential read' ela= 126 file#=100 block#=2513309 blocks=1 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343322889

There are a couple of interesting details in this trace file.

First we note (as the OP said) there are very few direct path reads – but direct path reads can be asynchronous with several running concurrently, which means that we may report one direct path read while the data returned from others records no time. (You’ll have to take my word for the sparseness of direct path reads – there were 5 reading a total of 58 blocks from the object, compared to 50,000 db file sequential reads)

Then you can see that although each block that was subject to “db file sequential read” is reported 10 times, the first read is much slower than the subsequent ones – a fairly good indication that the later reads are coming from a cache somewhere. (The 50,00 reads consisted of roughly 5,300 blocks being read 10 times, 1,400 blocks being read 9 times, 460 blocks being read 8 times, and a few blocks being read 7 or fewer times.)

You might also notice that the “coincidental” jump of 64 blocks between the sets of 10 reads – this appears fairly frequently, and it’s the type of pattern you might expect to see when a serial process is allocating blocks for use in a clean ASSM tablespace after the extent sizes have become fairly large (possibly the 64MB size that eventually appears with system managed extent sizes). There’s a “pseudo-random” choice of block within extent dicated by the process id, that spreads the work done by a single process steadily through the extent. Having filled 2513181, 2513245, 2513309 and so on for 16 steps the trace file comes back to 2513182, 2513246, 2513309 and so on.

It’s interesting (and time-consuming) to check the patterns but what we really need next, and don’t have, to check the theory is the set of 13 blocks dictated by the first direct path read:

WAIT #4573135368: nam='direct path read' ela= 8991 file number=100 first dba=947580 block cnt=13 obj#=1462951 tim=79008343293041

It’s likely that somewhere in the 13 blocks in the range 947580 onwards we would find the 10 row head pieces pointing to block 2513181; then the 10 row head pieces pointing to block 2513245, and so on – and I’d hope that we might see a pattern of many consecutive (or near-consecutive) rows in each originating block pointing to the same “next block”. In fact, with a few blocks in the early range, we might even get some idea of how the application was loading and updating data and be able to make some suggestions for changing the strategy to avoid row chaining.


The OP also had a follow-up question which was: “One question for the block dump is why there is no hrid in it since the row pieces are the second row pieces and the flag bit is ‘—–L–‘?”  It would be nice to see this, of course – then we wouldn’t need to see the 947580-947592 range to see what had been happening to the data – but that’s not the way Oracle works, as I’ve pointed out above; but since the answer was in another posting of mine I simply emailed the relevant URL to the OP.

May 22, 2014


Filed under: Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:24 pm BST May 22,2014

Here’s a convenient aid to trouble-shooting that appeared in 11g with its enhancements to setting events. It’s a feature that may help you to work out (among other things) why a given statement seems to have a highly variable performance profile. If you can find the SQL_ID for a parent cursor you can enable tracing for just that cursor whenever it executes, whoever executes it.

--	Last tested:

define m_sql_id = '&1'
define m_sql_id = '9tz4qu4rj9rdp'

alter system set events
	sql_trace[SQL: &m_sql_id ]

pause Press return to stop tracing

alter system set events
	sql_trace[SQL: &m_sql_id ]

This is the whole of a little script I’ve got – the generic &1 is how I normally use it, I’ve just included a specific value (which is the sql_id for “select count(*) from all_objects;” as an example – that starts tracing across the entire system, but only for a given SQL_ID. On a production system, if I think I really need to do this, I would check the expected frequency of execution for the statement and wait enough time to capture a few occurrences before disabling the trace. Each session generates its own trace file, but if you’ve been sufficiently patient you get a reasonable sampling of the different workloads – and if you’ve captured the bind variables as well, this may give you some clues about why different work loads can appear.

A nice detail about this feature is that if the SQL_ID is for a pl/sql block, all the SQL executing inside the block is traced as part of the trace on the block (and that was particularly helpful the last time I had to make use of the feature); in the sample I’ve given I also found that some recursive SQL – relating to the XMLSCHEMA object types – executed within the view was also traced as the main statement was traced … so that makes it easy to see the effects of SQL statements calling PL/SQL functions that contain SQL statements.


July 12, 2013

Wrong Index 2

Filed under: CBO,Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:17 pm BST Jul 12,2013

A couple of days ago I wrote an article about Oracle picking the “wrong index” after an index rebuild, and I mentioned that the sample data I had generated looked a little odd because it came from a script I had been using to investigate a completely different problem. This note describes that other problem, which appeared on the Oracle-L mailing list last month.

Stripped to a bare minimum, here’s the issue: we have a simple query against a single table with two indexes IDX2_AUFTRAG(arsAuftragsNr, dategAuftragsNr) and IDX7_AUFTRAG(arsAuftragsNr), and a predicate “arsAuftragsNr = {constant}”. Since the second column in the two-column index is irrelevant (we can’t use it to avoid visiting the table, and it’s not part of a group by or order by clause), and since adding a column to an index is likely to increase the clustering_factor and leaf block count of the index, we would probably expect to see Oracle pick the single column index as the path to the table – but it doesn’t, it picks the two-column index.


July 10, 2013

12c First N

Filed under: 12c,Oracle,trace files,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:59 pm BST Jul 10,2013

There have been a couple of nice posts about the “Top N” (or First N / Next N)  syntax that has appeared in 12c, here and here, for example. I particularly like the first set of examples because they include some execution plans that give you a good idea of what’s  going on under the covers. “Under the covers” is important, because if you don’t actually have a large data set to test on you might not realise what impact a “Top N” query might have on a production data set.


July 7, 2013

Cursor Sharing

Filed under: CBO,Oracle,Statistics,trace files — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:49 pm BST Jul 7,2013

Here’s a couple of extracts from a trace file after I’ve set optimizer_dynamic_sampling to level 3. I’ve run two, very similar, SQL statements that both require dynamic sampling according to the rules for the parameter – but take a look at the different ways that sampling has happened, and ask yourself what’s going on:


June 23, 2013

Index Hints

Filed under: CBO,Hints,Indexing,Oracle,trace files — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:04 pm BST Jun 23,2013

In my last post I made a comment about how the optimizer will use the new format of the index hint to identify an index that is an exact match if it can, and any index that starts with the same columns (in the right order) if it can’t find an exact match. It’s fairly easy to demonstrate the behaviour in 11g by examining the 10053 (CBO) trace file generated by a simple, single table, query – in fact, this is probably a case that Doug Burns might want to cite as an example of how, sometimes, the 10053 is easy to interpret (in little patches):


August 30, 2012


Filed under: Bugs,Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:55 pm BST Aug 30,2012

I’ve given examples in the past of how you can be suprised by Oracle when a mechanism that has “always worked” in the past suddenly just doesn’t work because some unexpected internal coding mechanism hits a boundary condition. One example I gave of this was rebuilding indexes online – where a limitation on the key size of index organized tables made it impossible to do an online rebuild of an index on a heap table because of an ORA-01450 (maximum key length) error that was raised against the (index-organized) journal table that  Oracle creates internally to support the rebuild.

Slightly more recently the topic of the sys_op_map_nonnull() function came up in some comments about the ora_hash function – and I made a passing comment about the function appearing in materialized view refreshes and then never followed it up. Fortunately I got an email from Jared Still and Don Seiler a few days ago which contained a nice short demonstration of the problem so, with their permission, I’ve published it below.

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):


December 19, 2011

Correlation oddity

Filed under: Bugs,Indexing,Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:26 pm BST Dec 19,2011

This one’s so odd I nearly posted it as a “Quiz Night” – but decided that it would be friendlier simply to demonstrate it. Here’s a simple script to create a couple of identical tables. It’s using my standard environment but, apart from fiddling with optimizer settings, I doubt if there’s any reason why you need to worry too much about getting the environment exactly right.

June 7, 2011

Audit Excess

Filed under: audit,Bugs,Infrastructure,Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:18 pm BST Jun 7,2011

So you’ve decided you want to audit a particular table in your database, and think that Oracle’s built in audit command will do what you want. You discover two options that seem to be relevant:

audit all on t1 by access;
audit all on t1 by session;

To check the audit state of anything in your schema you can then run a simple query – with a few SQL*Plus formatting commands – to see something like the following:


April 20, 2011


Filed under: Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:12 pm BST Apr 20,2011

Here’s a nice example on the OTN database forum of Dom Brooks looking at the evidence.

  • The query is slow – what does the trace say.
  • There’s “row source execution” line that says we get 71,288 rows before doing a hash unique drops it to 3,429 rows.
  • There’s a statement (upper case, bind variables as :Bn) in the trace file that has been executed 71,288 times
  • A very large fraction of the trace file time is in the secondary statement
  • There’s a user-defined function call in the original select list, before a ‘select distinct’.

Conclusion: the code should probably do a “distinct” in an inline view before calling the function, reducing the number of calls to the function from 71,288 to 3,429.

Footnote: There may be other efficiency steps to consider – I’m always a little suspicious of a query that uses “distinct”: possibly it’s hiding an error in logic, possibly it should be rewritten with an existence subquery somewhere, but sometimes it really is the best strategy. There’s are some unusual statistics names coming from autotrace in the OP’s system – I wonder if he’s installed one of Tanel Poder’s special library hacks.

December 9, 2010

Geek Stuff – 2

Filed under: trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:50 pm BST Dec 9,2010

This is a post specially for Junping Zhang, who has been waiting patiently for a follow-up to my geek post about find the system-level setting for parameter use_stored_outlines. His question was: “Is it also possible to find the session-level setting ?”

The answer is yes – but it’s harder, version specific, requires a little preparation, and only allows you to see the setting for your own session.

April 30, 2010

10053 viewer

Filed under: CBO,Execution plans,Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:49 pm BST Apr 30,2010

I’ve been trying to find a way to post an executable for several weeks because I’ve been sent a simple viewer for 10053 trace files written by Hans-Peter Sloot of Atos Origin and Robert van der Ende. They wrote this viewer because trace files from event 10053 can be enormous, and scrolling back and fore through them to cross reference the interesting bits can be extremely tedious. Their “tree-viewer” allows you to see all the important headings and expand only the detail you’re interested in.

March 30, 2010

heap block compress

Filed under: Infrastructure,trace files — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:24 pm BST Mar 30,2010

In a recent note showing how an index could become much larger than the underlying table because of the different ways that Oracle handles deletion from table and index blocks, I pointed out that Oracle would have to pick a moment to replace rows marked for deletion with a stub, or place-holder, showing where the row had been but reserving the rowid in case a process rolled back the delete. (This tied back to a note I had written showing that the row directory in a table block could become much larger than you might think possible.)

My closing question asked when Oracle would do this replacement, and how you could monitor it. This note is a partial answer to that question.


March 7, 2010

Treedump – 2

Filed under: Indexing,Infrastructure,Oracle,trace files,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:32 pm BST Mar 7,2010

In an earlier article about investigating the state of an index in detail I supplied a piece of SQL that would analyse an index (no, not using the Analyze command) and summarise the number of entries in each leaf block that currently held any entries at all. Here’s a sample of the type of output it produced:


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