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Direct path read and fast full index scans

This is yet another blogpost on Oracle’s direct path read feature which was introduced for non-parallel query processes in Oracle version 11.

For full table scans, a direct path read is done (according to my tests and current knowledge) when:

- The segment is bigger than 5 * _small_table_threshold.
- Less than 50% of the blocks of the table is already in the buffercache.
- Less than 25% of the blocks in the buffercache are dirty.

When does an Oracle process know it’s on Exadata?

When an Oracle process starts executing a query and needs to do a full segment scan, it needs to make a decision if it’s going to use ‘blockmode’, which is the normal way of working on non-Exadata Oracle databases, where blocks are read from disk and processed by the Oracle foreground process, either “cached” (read from disk and put in the database buffercache) or “direct” (read from disk and put in the process’ PGA), or ‘offloaded mode’, where part of the execution is done by the cell server.

The code layer where the Oracle database process initiates the offloading is ‘kcfis’; an educated guess is Kernel Cache File Intelligent Storage. Does a “normal” alias non-Exadata database ever use the ‘kcfis’ layer? My first guess would be ‘no’, but we all know guessing takes you nowhere (right?). Let’s see if a “normal” database uses the ‘kcfis’ functions on a Linux x64 (OL 6.3) system with Oracle 64 bit using ASM.

Watching the “CopyBack” progress of a new disk on an Exadata compute node

This is just a very small post on how to watch the progress of the “CopyBack” state of a freshly inserted disk in an Exadata “Computing” (database) node. A disk failed in the (LSI Hardware) RAID5 set, and the hotspare disk was automatically used. The failed disk was replaced, and we are now awaiting the intermediate “CopyBack” phase.

The current state of the disks is visible using the following command:

Storage Indexes vs Database Indexes IV: 8 Column Limit (Eight Line Poem)

As Exadata Storage Indexes (SI) are purely memory only structures located on the Exadata storage servers, care needs to be taken in how much memory they can potentially consume. As a result, there is a limit of 8 columns (or 8 SIs) that can be defined for a given 1M storage region at any point […]

E4 2013 – Exadata Conference Call for Papers Closing


Just a quick note to remind you that the call for papers for E4 is closing in a few days (on April 30).  So if you have anything you think is interesting related to Exadata that you’d like to share we’d love to hear from you. By the way, you don’t have to be a world renowned speaker on Oracle technology to get accepted. You just need to have an interesting story to tell about your experience. Implementations, migrations and consolidation stories are all worthy of consideration. Any interaction between Exadata and Big Data platforms will also be of great interest to the attendees. Of course the more details you can provide the better.

Here’s a link to the submission page:


When using Locally Managed Tablespaces (LMT) with variable, system managed extent sizes (AUTOALLOCATE) and data files residing in ASM the Allocation Unit (AU) size can make a significant difference to the algorithm that searches for free extents.The corresponding free extent search algorithm when searching for free extents >= the AU size seems to only search for free extents on AU boundaries in order to avoid I/O splitting.Furthermore the algorithm seems to use two extent sizes when searching for free extents: A "desired" (for example 8MB) and a "minimum acceptable" (for example 1MB) extent size - however when performing the search the "desired" size seems to be relevant when limiting the search to free extents on AU boundaries.This can lead to some surprising side effects, in particular when using 4MB AUs.It effectively means that although you might have plenty o

MAA tests on Exadata… demystifying availability tests

MAA tests on Exadata… demystifying availability tests

I have not had a lot of time to post recently due to various reasons and a switch in jobs at Oracle.  I currently am 100% dedicated to working in the Oracle Solution Center to help customers test the performance on Oracle’s engineered solutions.  So, why am I sending this link?

Regardless of the performance tests that are performed, I often spend a fair amount of time showing the Availability aspects as well.  Hopefully this video will help to demystify the availability aspects of Exadata.

Exadata Article as NYOUG's Article of the Year 2012

The Editors of New York Oracle User Group (NYOUG) publication - TechJournal - chose my article Exadata Demystified as the Article of the Year. Here is the snippet from the Editorial:

And the Award Goes To …

Exadata and the db_block_checksum parameter.

With Exadata version came the Unbreakable Linux Kernel for Exadata, which had been the stock EL5 redhat kernel prior to this version (2.6.18). With the unbreakable kernel came the opportunity to run the perf utility. This utility has the opportunity to see which functions are active inside an executable when there’s a symbol table. And the oracle database executable has a symbol table! One reason to do this, is to get a more granular overview of what the Oracle database is doing than the wait interface, especially to get a more detailed overview of what the database is doing in what is visible in the wait interface as ‘on cpu’.

Public Appearances and Exadata Performance Training

I will be doing a lot of (Exadata) talking and teaching in the coming months. Here’s a list of events where you’ll see me speaking, teaching, hacking, learning and hopefully also drinking beer: