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Execution plans

Temp space

A question about hunting down the source of the error “ORA-01652 unable to extend temp segment by NNN in tablespace XXX” shows up on the Oracle-L mailing list or the Oracle developer community forum from time to time. In most cases the tablespace referenced is the temporary tablespace, which means the session reporting the error was probably trying to allocate some space for sorting, or doing a hash join, or instantiating a GTT (global temporary table) or a CTE (common table expression / “with” subquery). The difficulty in cases like this is that the session reporting the error might be the victim of some other session’s greed – so looking at what the session was doing won’t necessarily point you to the real problem.

E-rows / A-rows

This note was prompted by an error I made at the UKOUG TechFest19 yesterday. It’s fairly well-known that when you read an execution plan that includes the rowsource execution stats – so you get the E-rows (estimated) and A-rows (Actual) reported – then a sensible check of the quality of the optimizer’s calculations is to compare the estimates and actuals allowing for the fact that the E-rows is “per start” and the A-rows is “cumulative”, so A-rows = E-rows * Starts.

The error I made yesterday was to forget that this relationship isn’t always true. In particular partitioning and parallel query introduced the need to be a little flexibility in reading the numbers – which I’ll demonstrate with a coupld of simple examples running under 12.2.0.1

IOT Hash

It’s another of my double-entendre titles. The optimizer can turn a hash join involving an index-organized table into a real performance disaster (though you may have to help it along the way by using a silly definition for your primary key columns). This post was inspired by a question posted on the Oracle Developer Community forum recently so the table and column names I’ve used in my model reflect (almost, with a few corrections) the names used in the post.

We start with a simple requirement expressed through the following SQL:

ANSI Plans

Here’s a thought that falls somewhere between philosophical and pragmatic. It came up while I was playing around with a problem from the Oracle database forum that was asking about options for rewriting a query with a certain type of predicate. This note isn’t really about that question but the OP supplied a convenient script to demonstrate their requirement and I’ve hi-jacked most of the code for my own purposes so that I can ask the question:

Should the presence of an intermediate view name generated by the optimizer in the course of cost-based query transformation cause two plans, which are otherwise identical and do exactly the same thing, to have different plan hash values ?

To demonstrate the issue let’s start with a simple script to create some data and generate an execution plan.

v$session

Here’s an odd, and unpleasant, detail about querying v$session in the “most obvious” way. (And if you were wondering what made me resurrect and complete a draft on “my session id” a couple of days ago, this posting is the reason). Specifically if you want to select some information for your own session from v$session the query you’re likely to use in any recent version of Oracle will probably be of the form:


select {list for columns} from v$session where sid = to_number(sys_context('userenv','sid'));

Unfortunately that one little statement hides two anomalies – which you can see in the execution plan. Here’s a demonstration cut from an SQL*Plus session running under 19.3.0.0:

Negative Offload

At the Trivadis Performance Days 2019 I did a presentation on using execution plans to understand what a query was doing. One of the examples I showed was a plan from an Exadata system (using 11.2.0.4) that needed to go faster. The plan was from the SQL Monitor report and all I want to show you is one line that’s reporting a tablescan. To fit the screen comfortably I’ve removed a number of columns from the output.

The report had been generated while the statement was still running (hence the “->” at the left hand edge) and the query had scanned 166 segments (with no partition elimination) of a table with 4,500 data segments (450 range partitions and 10 hash sub-partitions – note the design error, by the way, hash partitioning in Oracle should always hash for a powert of 2).

Optimizer Tricks 1

I’ve got a number of examples of clever little tricks the optimizer can do to transform your SQL before starting in on the arithmetic of optimisation. I was prompted to publish this one by a recent thread on ODC. It’s worth taking note of these tricks when you spot one as a background knowledge of what’s possible makes it much easier to interpret and trouble-shoot from execution plans. I’ve labelled this one “#1” since I may publish a few more examples in the future, and then I’ll have to catalogue them – but I’m not making any promises about that.

Here’s a table definition, and a query that’s hinted to use an index on that table.

Free Space

Several years ago I wrote a note about reporting dba_free_space and dba_extents to produce a map of the space usage in a tablespace in anticipation of messing about with moving or rebuilding objects to try and reduce the size of the files in the tablespace.  In the related page where I published the script I pointed out that a query against dba_extents would be expensive because it makes use of structure x$ktfbue which generates the information dynamically by reading segment header blocks.

opt_estimate 5

If you’ve been wondering why I resurrected my drafts on the opt_estimate() hint, a few weeks ago I received an email containing an example of a query where a couple of opt_estimate() hints were simply not working. The critical features of the example was that the basic structure of the query was of a type that I had not previously examined. That’s actually a common type of problem when trying to investigate any Oracle feature from cold – you can spend days thinking about all the possible scenarios you should model then the first time you need to do apply your knowledge to a production system the requirement falls outside every model you’ve examined.

Before you go any further reading this note, though, I should warn you that it ends in frustration because I didn’t find a solution to the problem I wanted to fix – possibly because there just isn’t a solution, possibly because I didn’t look hard enough.

opt_estimate 4

In the previous article in this series on the opt_estimate() hint I mentioned the “query_block” option for the hint. If you can identify a specify query block that becomes an “outline_leaf” in an execution plan (perhaps because you’ve deliberately given an query block name to an inline subquery and applied the no_merge() hint to it) then you can use the opt_estimate() hint to tell the optimizer how many rows will be produced by that query block (each time it starts). The syntax of the hint is very simple: