Oracle Scratchpad

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.


May 14, 2014

Feature Bypass

Filed under: CBO,Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:23 pm BST May 14,2014

Here’s a little tip that might be helpful occasionally when you’re trying to work out why the optimizer transformation you were expecting isn’t appearing

If you’ve ever checked the 10053 trace (and who wants to do that for a complex query) you may have noticed lines like:

SU: SU bypassed: Remote table referenced.

So now you know that SU – Subquery Unnesting – has limitations in distributed queries.

When I first saw a line like this, it crossed my mind that it would be useful to keep a reference list of features that could be reported as bypassed, which I do through a simple unix line:

strings -a oracle | grep -i bypassed > bypassed.txt

If you need a reference for the various short codes for transformations you can find it near the top of the 10053 trace, looking like this:

[sourecode gutter=”false”]
CBQT – cost-based query transformation
JPPD – join predicate push-down
OJPPD – old-style (non-cost-based) JPPD
FPD – filter push-down
PM – predicate move-around
CVM – complex view merging
SPJ – select-project-join
SJC – set join conversion
SU – subquery unnesting
OBYE – order by elimination
OST – old style star transformation
ST – new (cbqt) star transformation
CNT – count(col) to count(*) transformation
JE – Join Elimination
JF – join factorization
SLP – select list pruning
DP – distinct placement
… big gap here
AP – adaptive plans

April 4, 2014

NVL() change

Filed under: CBO,Oracle,Troubleshooting,Upgrades — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:10 pm BST Apr 4,2014

One of the problems of functions is that the optimizer generally doesn’t have any idea on how a predicate based on function(col) might affect the cardinality. However,  the optimizer group are constantly refining the algorithms to cover an increasing number of special cases more accurately. This is a good thing, of course – but it does mean that you might be unlucky on an upgrade where a better cardinality estimate leads to a less efficient execution plan. Consider for example the simple query (where d1 is column of type date):

select	*
from	t1
where	nvl(d1,to_date('01-01-1900','dd-mm-yyyy')) < sysdate

Now, there are many cases in many versions of Oracle, where the optimizer will appear to calculate the cardinality of

nvl(columnX,{constant}) operator {constant}

as if it were:

columnX is null or columnX operator {constant}

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be one of them – until you get to 11.2.something. Here’s a little demonstration code:

create table t1
with generator as (
	select	--+ materialize
		rownum id
	from dual
	connect by
		level <= 1e4
		when rownum > 100 then null else sysdate - rownum
	end	d1
	generator	v1,
	generator	v2
	rownum <= 50000

		ownname		 => user,
		tabname		 =>'T1',
		method_opt	 => 'for all columns size 1'

set autotrace traceonly explain

prompt	query with NVL

select	*
from	t1
where	nvl(d1,to_date('01-01-1900','dd-mm-yyyy')) < sysdate

prompt	query with OR clause

select	*
from	t1
where	d1 is null or d1 < sysdate

If you run this code in you get the following – with numeric variations for cost (which I’m interested not in at the moment):

query with NVL
| Id  | Operation         | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |      |  2500 |  2500 |    18  (39)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   |  2500 |  2500 |    18  (39)| 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
   1 - filter(NVL("D1",TO_DATE(' 1900-01-01 00:00:00', 'syyyy-mm-dd

query with OR clause
| Id  | Operation         | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |      | 50000 | 50000 |    13  (16)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   | 50000 | 50000 |    13  (16)| 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
   1 - filter("D1" IS NULL OR "D1"<SYSDATE@!)

Take note particularly of the difference in the estimated cardinality for the tablescans.

When you upgrade to (possibly earlier – though there are some nvl() related patches that appeared only in, you get this:

query with NVL
| Id  | Operation         | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |      | 50000 | 50000 |    18  (39)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   | 50000 | 50000 |    18  (39)| 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):

   1 - filter(NVL("D1",TO_DATE(' 1900-01-01 00:00:00', 'syyyy-mm-dd

query with OR clause
| Id  | Operation         | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT  |      | 49900 | 49900 |    13  (16)| 00:00:01 |
|*  1 |  TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   | 49900 | 49900 |    13  (16)| 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
   1 - filter("D1" IS NULL OR "D1"<SYSDATE@!)

As you can see the estimate for the “NVL()” example is now correct – which means vastly different from the estimate in which seemed to be using the standard “5% for range-based predicate on function(col)”.

It’s interesting to note that a (relatively) small error has crept in to the “OR” example – interestingly the size of the error is exactly the number of rows where d1 is not null (which looks like enough of a coincidence to be a bug – but maybe there’s a good rationale for it)


Yet again, a simple upgrade has the capacity to make a dramatic change to a cardinality estimate – which could mean a significant change to an execution plan and major change in performance. If you’ve read this note, though, you may recognise the pattern that is the driving feature behind the problem.


If you have access to versions through and find that the test data produces different cardinalities please publish the results in the comments – it would be nice to know exactly when this change appears.  (You need only show the body of the execution plans  with labels, not the entire output of the script).


March 28, 2014


Filed under: Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 8:12 am BST Mar 28,2014

One of the problems of “knowing” so much about Oracle is that the more you know the more you have to check on each new release of the software. An incoming ping on my posting “Lock Horror” reminded me that I was writing about, and the terminal release is, and the whole thing may have changed in – so I ought to re-run some tests to make sure that the articel is up to date if it’s likely to be read a few times in the next few days.

Unfortunately, although I often add a URL to scripts I’ve used to confirm results published in the blog, I don’t usually include a script name in my blog postings  to remind me where to go if I want to re-run the tests. So how do I find the right script(s) ? Typically I list all the likely scripts and compare dates with the date on the blog; so here’s what I got for “lock”.

SQL> host ls -ltr *lock*.sql | grep -v block
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1569 Jun 28  2002 c_bitlock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1303 Oct  5  2002 ddl_deadlock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1875 Oct  7  2002 ddl_deadlock_2.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1654 Aug  6  2003 hw_lock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 2626 Sep 17  2004 lock_oddity.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1804 Sep 17  2004 lock_speed.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 3194 May  8  2006 space_locks.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 4337 Jan  3  2008 tm_deadlock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1149 Jan  3  2008 show_lock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 2068 Apr 21  2008 hw_lock_2.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1482 Feb  5  2010 tt_lock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1692 Feb 16  2010 to_lock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 3308 Jun  1  2010 skip_locked.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 2203 Nov  2  2010 deadlock_statement.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 2883 Nov  3  2010 merge_locking.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1785 Dec 14  2010 sync_lock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  984 Apr 23  2011 para_dml_deadlock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 4305 Jun  4  2011 locking_fifo.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 5970 Jun  5  2011 locking_fifo_2.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  917 Jun 30  2011 ul_deadlock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  936 Jul  8  2011 funny_deadlock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  741 Sep  8  2011 row_lock_wait_index.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 2590 Nov 30  2012 fk_lock_stress.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 4561 Feb  6  2013 dbms_lock.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 1198 Apr  6  2013 libcache_locks.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 5636 Nov 27 19:40 ash_deadlocks.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  379 Mar 27 19:17 fk_constraint_locks.sql

Nothing leaps out as an obvious candidate, though “funny_deadlock.sql” catches my eye for future reference; maybe I should look for “foreign key”.

SQL> host ls -ltr *fk*.sql | grep -v fkr
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  2140 Jun 16  2005 fk_check.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  2897 Jun 16  2005 fk_order.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba   650 Oct 26  2007 pk_fk_null.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  5444 Nov  4  2007 c_fk.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  1568 Dec  5  2008 null_fk.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  2171 Mar  2  2009 fk_anomaly_2.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  3922 Mar  2  2009 fk_anomaly.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  5512 Oct 15  2009 fk_check_2.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  1249 Feb 15  2010 c_pk_fk_2.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  1638 Feb 16  2010 c_pk_fk_3.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  5121 Jun  1  2012 c_pt_fk_2.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  4030 Jun  5  2012 c_pt_fk_3.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  2062 Jun  5  2012 c_pt_fk_3a.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  2618 Sep 23  2012 c_pk_fk_02.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  1196 Oct 19  2012 deferrable_fk.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  2590 Nov 30  2012 fk_lock_stress.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  4759 Sep  1  2013 fk_bitmap.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  1730 Sep 30 07:51 virtual_fk.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  3261 Dec 22 09:41 pk_fk_gets.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  8896 Dec 31 13:19 fk_delete_gets.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba 10071 Dec 31 14:52 fk_delete_gets_2.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  4225 Jan 14 11:15 c_pk_fk.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  2674 Jan 14 13:42 append_fk.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  1707 Feb 10 12:34 write_cons_fk.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba  9677 Feb 24 17:23 c_pt_fk.sql
-rwxr-xr-x 1 jonathan dba   379 Mar 27 19:17 fk_constraint_locks.sql

(The “-fkr” is to eliminate scripts about “first K rows optimisation”). With a little luck, the dates are about right, c_pk_fk_2.sql and c_pk_fk_3.sql will be relevant. So keep an eye on “Lock Horror” for an update in the next few days.

You’ll notice that some of the scripts have a very old datestamp on them – that’s an indication of how hard it is to keep up; when I re-run a script on a new version of Oracle I invariably add a “Last Tested:” version to the header, and a couple of notes about changes.  A couple of my scripts date back to June 2001 – but that is, at least, the right century, and some people are still using Oracle 7.


It should be obvious that I can’t test everything on every new release – but it’s amazing how often on a client site I can recognize a symptom and pick at script that I’ve used in the past to construct the problem – and that’s when a quick bit of re-testing helps me find a solution or workaround (or Oracle bug note).


March 26, 2014


Filed under: Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 2:13 pm BST Mar 26,2014

Here’s a little test you might want to try. Examine the following script, and decide what sort of symptoms you would see in the AWR report.

create global temporary table gtt1(n1 number);

execute dbms_workload_repository.create_snapshot;

insert into gtt1 values(1);
truncate table gtt1;

-- repeat insert/truncate for a total of 100 cycles

execute dbms_workload_repository.create_snapshot;

-- generate an AWR report across the interval.

I don’t need anyone to tell me their results – but if your predictions and the actual results match then you can give yourself a pat on the head.
You might also like to enable SQL trace for all the inserts/truncate to see if that shows you anything interesting.

This is one of the simpler scripts of the 3,500 I have on my laptop that help me interpret the symptoms I see in client systems.

March 3, 2014

Flashback Fail ?

Filed under: Bugs,Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 4:19 pm BST Mar 3,2014

Sitting in an airport, waiting for a plane, I decided to read a note (pdf) about Flashback data archive written by Beat Ramseier from Trivadis.  I’d got about three quarters of the way through it when I paused for thought and figured out that on the typical database implementation something nasty is going to happen after approximately 3 years and 9 months.  Can you guess why ?

It’s all about smon_scn_time – which normally records one row every five minutes (created by smon) with a continuous cycle of 24 hours – typically giving you about 1,440 rows in the table. The table is in a cluster, and the cluster key is the instance (thread) number. Clearly this was originally a clever idea from someone who realised that a cluster key of thread number would be beneficial if you had a RAC system with multiple instances – each instance gets its own blocks and the data for any one instance is as well clustered as possible.

The trouble is, when you enable flashback data archive smon no longer sticks to a 24 hour cycle, it just keeps adding rows. Now on my 8KB block tablespace I see 6 rows per block in the table/cluster – which means I get through 48 blocks per days,  17,520 blocks per year, and in 3 years and 9 months I’ll get to roughly 65,700 blocks – and that’s the problem.  An index entry in a cluster index points to a chain of cluster blocks, and the last two bytes of the “rowid” in the index entry identify which block within the chain the cluster key scan should start at – and two bytes means you can only have 65,536 blocks for a single cluster key.

I don’t know what’s going to happen when smon tries to insert a row into the 65,535th (-ish) block for the current thread – but it ought to raise an Oracle error, and then you’ll probably have to take emergency action to make sure that the flashback mechanisms carry on running.

Although oraus.msg indicates that it’s an error message about hash clusters it’s possible that the first sight will be: Oracle error: “ORA-02475 maximum cluster chain block count of %s has been exceeded”. If you’re using a 16KB block size then you’ve got roughly 7.5 years, and 32KB block sizes give you about 15 years (not that that’s a good argument for selecting larger block sizes, of course.)


Searching MoS for related topics (smon_scn_time flashback) I found doc ID: 1100993.1 from which we could possibly infer that the 1,440 rows was a fixed limit in 10g but that the number of rows allowed in smon_scn_time could increase in 11g if you enable automatic undo management. I also found a couple of bugs relating to index or cluster corruption – fixed by, though.



February 10, 2014

Row Migration

Filed under: Infrastructure,Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:55 pm BST Feb 10,2014

At one of the presentations I attended at RMOUG this year the presenter claimed that if a row kept increasing in size and had to migrate from block to block as a consequence then each migration of that row would leave a pointer in the previous block so that an indexed access to the row would start at the original table block and have to follow an ever growing chain of pointers to reach the data.

This is not correct, and it’s worth making a little fuss about the error since it’s the sort of thing that can easily become an urban legend that results in people rebuilding tables “for performance” when they don’t need to.

Oracle behaves quite intelligently with migrated rows. First, the migrated row has a pointer back to the original location and if the row has to migrate a second time the first place that Oracle checks for space is the original block, so the row might “de-migrate” itself; however, even if it can’t migrate back to the original block, it will still revisit the original block to change the pointer in that block to refer to the block it has moved on to – so the row is never more than one step away from its original location. As a quick demonstration, here’s some code to generate and manipulate some data:


RAC Plans

Filed under: Execution plans,Hints,Oracle,RAC,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 1:12 pm BST Feb 10,2014

Recently appeared on Mos – “Bug 18219084 : DIFFERENT EXECUTION PLAN ACROSS RAC INSTANCES”

Now, I’m not going to claim that the following applies to this particular case – but it’s perfectly reasonable to expect to see different plans for the same query on RAC, and it’s perfectly possible for the two different plans to have amazingly different performance characteristics; and in this particular case I can see an obvious reason why the two nodes could have different plans.

Here’s the query reported in the bug:


February 5, 2014


Filed under: Execution plans,Oracle,Troubleshooting,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:42 pm BST Feb 5,2014

Here’s a little script to demonstrate an observation about a missed opportunity for avoiding work that appeared in my email this morning (that’s morning Denver time):


February 2, 2014


Filed under: clusters,Infrastructure,Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 10:27 pm BST Feb 2,2014

It doesn’t matter which bit of Oracle technology you want to use, eventually someone, somewhere, runs into the special case where something nasty happens. Here’s an edge case for people using (index) clusters – Oracle Bug  17866999 ora-1499 for cluster following rman convert

It comes from a conversation on Oracle-L where Jack van Zanen reported a problem of inconsistent results after migrating data between platforms using rman to converts some tablespaces containing index clusters. This is the starting post where he shows a query that is clearly getting the wrong answer (select where channel_number = 503 obviously shouldn’t return data with channel_number 501).


January 26, 2014


Filed under: Bugs,Indexing,Oracle,Troubleshooting,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 12:08 pm BST Jan 26,2014

I was involved in a thread on Oracle-L recently started with the question: “How many LIOs is too many LIOs”. Rather than rewrite the whole story, I’ve supplied a list of links to the contributions I made, in order – the final “answer” is actually the answer to a different question – but travels an interesting path to get there.#

I’ve got a script to emulate the requirement so that people can see for themselves the bug that I mention in post 15; I’ll try to add a couple of notes to it and publish it some time, but for the moment I’ll just remind myself that it’s called (slightly counter-intuitively: no_sort_problem.sql)

January 6, 2014

LOB changes

Filed under: Infrastructure,LOBs,Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 7:10 pm BST Jan 6,2014

It’s always useful to collect baseline information – especially when it helps you notice that the baseline has moved in a way that might explain the next performance problem you see. Here’s an example demonstrating the benefit.

I have a table with a LOB column that is stored out of line. Many years ago I decided that I wanted to compare how the redo generation varied as I change the LOB from cached to nocache (with nologging). So here was one of my simplest test scripts (stripped to a minimum):


December 31, 2013


Filed under: Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 5:30 pm BST Dec 31,2013

If it’s a long night, and you’ve got nothing better to do waiting for the new year, then here’s some reading to keep you entertained. A collation of Tanel Poder’s trouble-shooting blog postings, dating from June 2007 to September 2013:

  1. When the wait interface is not enough
  2. No magic is needed, systematic approach will do
  3. More adventures in the process stack
  4. Diagnosing a long parsing issue
  5. Sampling v$ stuff with waitprof really fast using SQL
  6. Understanding execution plans with OS explain
  7. Sampling latch holder statistics using latchprof
  8. Even more details latch troubleshooting using latchprofx
  9. Process stack profiling from SQL Plus using ostackprof
  10. Index unique scan doing multiblock reads
  11. Complex wait chain signature analysis with ash_wait_chains sql

December 23, 2013

Random slowdown

Filed under: Oracle,Troubleshooting — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:48 pm BST Dec 23,2013

One of the old, old questions came up on OTN a few days ago:  “What reasons are there for a piece of (batch) SQL to run very slowly occasionally when it usually runs very quickly ?” Then a similar one appeared a couple of days later. There are plenty of reasons, so I thought I’d start listing a few and see how many other (realistic) reasons other people wanted to add.


December 11, 2013

Null Quiz

Filed under: Oracle,Performance,Troubleshooting,Tuning — Jonathan Lewis @ 6:42 pm BST Dec 11,2013

Here’s an example I saw a few months ago of the confusion caused by NULL. As the owner of the problem put it: the first query, run from SQL*Plus for testing purposes, takes no time to complete; but when “put into a pl/sql cursor” (as shown in the second query) it takes ages to complete.


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