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A look into into Oracle redo, part 4: the log writer null write

This is the fourth blogpost on a series of blogposts about how the Oracle database handles redo. The previous blogpost talked about the work cycle of the log writer: https://fritshoogland.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/a-look-into-oracle-redo-part-3-the-log-writer-work-cycle-overview/. This posts is looking into the execution of the kcrfw_redo_write_driver function executed in the ksbcti.

A look into Oracle redo, part 3: log writer work cycle overview

This is the third part of a series of blogposts on how the Oracle database handles redo. The previous part talked about the memory area that stores redo strand information: https://fritshoogland.wordpress.com/2018/02/05/a-look-into-oracle-redo-part-2-the-discovery-of-the-kcrfa-structure/.

The single most important process in the Oracle database for handling redo is the log writer, which primary task is flushing the redo information other Oracle database processes put in the public redo strands to disk. Now that we have investigated the public redo strands and concurrency (first part) and kcrfsg_ and the KCRFA structure (second part), it seems logical to me to look at the log writer.

A look into Oracle redo, part 2: the discovery of the KCRFA structure

This is the second post in a series of blogposts on Oracle database redo internals. If you landed on this blogpost without having read the first blogpost, here is a link to the first blogpost: https://fritshoogland.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/a-look-into-oracle-redo-part-1-redo-allocation-latches/ The first blogpost contains all the versions used and a synopsis on what the purpose of this series of blogposts is.

In the first part, I showed how the principal access to the public redo strands is controlled by redo allocation latches, and showed a snippet of trace information of memory accesses of a foreground session when using the first public redo strand:

A look into Oracle redo, part 1: redo allocation latches

This will be a series of posts about Oracle database redo handling. The database in use is Oracle version 12.2.0.1, with PSU 170814 applied. The operating system version is Oracle Linux Server release 7.4. In order to look into the internals of the Oracle database, I use multiple tools; very simple ones like the X$ views and oradebug, but also advanced ones, quite specifically the intel PIN tools (https://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/pin-a-dynamic-binary-instrumentation-tool). One of these tools is ‘debugtrace’, which contains pretty usable output on itself (a indented list of function calls and returns), for which I essentially filter out some data, another one is ‘pinatrace’, which does not produce directly usable output, because it provides instruction pointer and memory addresses.

Introduction to pinatrace annotate version 2: a look into latches again

This post is an introduction to pinatrace annotate version 2, which is a tool to annotate the output of the Intel Pin tools ‘pinatrace’ tool.

The pinatrace tool generates a file with every single memory access of a process. Please realise what this means: this is every single read from main memory or write to main memory from the CPU. This allows you to get an understanding what happens within a C function. This means you can determine what information or data is accessed in what function. Needless to say this is a tool for internals investigations and research, not something for normal daily database maintenance and support. Also, the performance of the process that you attached to is severely impacted, and it can only be turned off by stopping the process. Do not use this on a production database, use this at your own risk for research and investigational purposes only.

The hang manager

Recently I was looking in the trace directory in the diag dest of my (12.2.0.1) instance, and found some trace files which were different from the others:

$ ls | grep dia0
test_dia0_9711_base_1.trc
test_dia0_9711_base_1.trm
test_dia0_9711_lws_1.trc
test_dia0_9711_lws_1.trm
test_dia0_9711.trc
test_dia0_9711.trm

The dia0 ‘test_dia0_9711.trc’ file is fully expected. But what are these ‘..lws_1.trc’ and ‘..base_1.trc’ files? And ‘base’ is something that I understand, but what would ‘lws’ mean? Lunatics Without Skateboards?

First, let’s look into the normally named trace file of the dia0 process:

Oracle 12.1 big table caching IO code path

Recently I was triggered about the ‘automatic big table caching’ feature introduced in Oracle version 12.1.0.2 with Roger Macnicol’s blogpost about Oracle database IO and caching or not caching (https://blogs.oracle.com/smartscan-deep-dive/when-bloggers-get-it-wrong-part-1 https://blogs.oracle.com/smartscan-deep-dive/when-bloggers-get-it-wrong-part-2). If you want to read something about the feature in general, search for the feature name, you’ll find several blogposts about it.

Oracle C functions annotations

Warning! This is a post about Oracle database internals for internals lovers and researchers. For normal, functional administration, this post serves no function. The post shows a little tool I created which consists of a small database I compiled with Oracle database C function names and a script to query it. The reason that keeping such a database makes sense in the first place, is because the Oracle C functions for the Oracle database are setup in an hierarchy based on the function name. This means you can deduct what part of the execution you are in by looking at the function name; for example ‘kslgetl’ means kernel service lock layer, get latch.

To use this, clone git repository at https://gitlab.com/FritsHoogland/ora_functions.git

How to automatically build any recent version of the Oracle database.

There are many situations where you want to use a very specific configuration of the Oracle database, for example when a client has an issue and is still on EL5, or gets disk errors on a filesystem that is ext3, or is using ASM and gets weird IO patterns. Other examples are: you want to test the newest PSU to see if responds differently to an issue you are working on, or you want to test a combination of the Oracle database version 11.2.0.3 and grid infrastructure 12.1.0.2.

Of course you can just go and install a virtual machine, install all the different bits and pieces. Doing so manually kills vast amounts of time. By doing that, you will end up with a lot of virtual machines, for which at a certain point in time you have to make a decision to remove some of these.

The full table scan direct path read decision for version 12.2

This post is about the decision the Oracle database engine makes when it is using a full segment scan approach. The choices the engine has is to store the blocks that are physically read in the buffercache, or read the blocks into the process’ PGA. The first choice is what I refer to as a ‘buffered read’, which places the block in the database buffercache so the process itself and other processes can bypass the physical read and use the block from the cache, until the block is evicted from the cache. The second choice is what is commonly referred to as ‘direct path read’, which places the blocks physically read into the process’ PGA, which means the read blocks are stored for only a short duration and is not shared with other processes.