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Parallel Execution

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.

Book: Expert Oracle RAC 12c

A quick note, Expert Oracle RAC book co-written by me is available now: Expert Oracle RAC 12c. I have written about 6 chapters covering the RAC internals that you may want to learn :) I even managed to discuss the network internals in deep, after all, network is one of the most important component of a RAC cluster.

Metrics vs Statistics

Here are  the tuning metrics tables (SQL  stats are not in “metric” tables per say)

(*DBA_HIST_…_HISTORY views are sort of confusing. AFAI remember they were storing alert history, but apparently they are used for adaptive thresholds – an area for future investigation)


Wait Metrics vs Wait Events

Here is a quick table comparison of  different types of metrics views


The first line of the table is the classic wait event and statistic views. The following lines are the metric views.  The metric views were introduced in Oracle 10g.

Why Metrics are good

Metric views compute deltas and rates  which hugely simplifying the ability to answer simple questions like “what is the I/O rate on my databases right now?” This question, before 10g, was surprisingly tedious to answer. To answer the question one would have to query v$sysstat  for example:

Enqueue – PK, FK or Bitmap Index problem?

MP900302987If one is seeing waits for enq: TX – row lock contention  then there could be a lot of reasons. One distinguishing factor is the lock mode. If the lock mode is exclusive (mode 6) then it’s most likely a classic row lock where two sessions are trying to modify the same row. On the other hand if the lock mode is share (mode 4)  it’s typically going to be

Oracle I/O latency monitoring

stopwatchOne thing that I have found sorely missing in the performance pages of Enterprise Manager is latency values for various types of I/O. The performance page or top activity may show high I/O waits but it won’t indicated if the latency of I/O is unusually high or not. Thus I put together a shell script that shows latency for the main I/O waits

CURSOR_SHARING : a picture is worth a 1000 words

Anyone who has been around Oracle performance over the years knows the grief that hard parsing SQL queries can cause on highly concurrent applications. The number one reason for hard parsing has been applications that don’t use bind variables. Without bind variables queries that would otherwise be shared get recompiled because their text is different and Oracle treats them as different queries. Oracle addressed this issue with a parameter called cursor_sharing. The parameter cursor_sharing has three values

  1. exact – the default
  2. similar – replace literals with bind variables, if a histogram keep literal in place
  3. force – replace literals with bind variables and use existing plan if it exists

Here is what the load looks like going from the default, exact, to the value force on a load of the same query but a query that doesn’t use bind variables:

Finding the slowest SQL execution of the same query

When running the same query multiple times, several questions come to mind:

  • Does the query always execute in the same amount of  time?
  • If some executions are slower, what is the slowest execution time?
  • When did the slowest exectution happen?
  • What more can I find out about the slowest exectution?


All of this can be answered from data in Active Session History or ASH.


The following query finds the maximum, minimum and average execution times in seconds as well as the time of the slowest execution which is given by start time and end time of the  slowest exectuiton:

Oracle CPU Time

There are 3 kinds of CPU in the Oracle stats.

  1. Oracle CPU used
  2. System CPU used
  3. Oracle demand for CPU

Starting in 10g Oracle records both the CPU used by the instance as well as the load on the system in v$sysmetric. This is awesome as we can see how busy the system is and how much of the CPU Oracle is responsible for:

Where to begin with Oracle and SQL

Seeing more and more questions on “where do I start with Oracle if I want to be a DBA?”  My perspective is a bit off since I’ve been surrounded by Oracle for over 20 years.  I hardly remember what it was like to start with Oracle and starting with Oracle now in 2013 is quite different than starting with Oracle in 1990.

Here is my list and everything on this list is excellent. I’m sure I missed a few good ones, but maybe people can add them in the comments.

Start with Oracle Docs, they are free and good!

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