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Auto DOP And Direct-Path Inserts

This is just a short note about one of the potential side-effects of the new Auto Degree Of Parallelism (DOP) feature introduced in 11.2.

If you happen to have Parallel DML enabled in your session along with Auto DOP (and here I refer to the PARALLEL_DEGREE_POLICY = AUTO setting, not LIMITED) then it might take you by surprise that INSERT statements that are neither decorated with a parallel hint nor use any parallel enabled objects can be turned into direct-path inserts.

Parallel DML - Conventional (non-direct-path) Inserts As Select

In a recent discussion I've mentioned that I thought to remember that the DML part of conventional load as select inserts will always be executed serially, even with parallel DML enabled and requesting parallel DML execution. It's important to understand in this context that this is not the same as the parallel query execution of the SELECT part, which is possible independently from the parallel DML part.

After that discussion I realized that it was quite some time ago that I tested this scenario, probably it was back then with some 10.2 version.

So I quickly put together a small test case that I ran on 11g versions and the results were quite surprising which motivated me to take a closer look.