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Parallel Execution

System Stats

Several years ago I wrote the following in “Cost Based Oracle – Fundamentals” (p.47):

The maxthr and slavethr figures relate to throughput for parallel execution slaves. I believe that the figures somehow control the maximum degree of parallelism that any given query may operate at by recording the maximum rate at which slaves have historically been able to operate—but I have not been able to verify this.

Browsing the internet recently, I discovered that that no-one else seems to have published anything to very my comment, so I decided it was about time I did so myself.  I’m going to work up to it in two blog notes , so if you do happen to know of any document that describes the impact of maxthr and slavethr on the optimizer’s costing algorithms please give me a reference in the comments – that way I might not have to write the second note.


The TIMESTAMP WITH TIME ZONE data type that got introduced a long time ago is known for some oddities, for example Tony Hasler has a nice summary of some of them here.Here is another oddity that shows up when trying to aggregate on such a data type. Have a look at the following simple example:

create table t
rownum as id
, date '2000-01-01' + rownum - 1 as some_date
, cast(date '2000-01-01' + rownum - 1 as timestamp) as some_timestamp
, cast(date '2000-01-01' + rownum - 1 as timestamp with local time zone) as some_timestamp_with_local_tz
, cast(date '2000-01-01' + rownum - 1 as timestamp with time zone) as some_timestamp_with_timezone
connect by

Parallel DML

Parallel DML is not enabled by default, and it’s easy to forget this and think you’ve made an operation “as parallel as possible” by declaring objects parallel or putting in hints for parallelism.

A recent question on OTN asked about speeding up a  materialized view refresh that seemed to be spending a lot of its time waiting on “PX Deq Credit: send blkd”. The manuals describe this as an “idle event”; but that’s not always true. The OP had supplied the output from tkprof for one of the sessions showing the “insert as select” that was the (complete) refresh and it was clear that the select was running in parallel, but the insert wasn’t – and that’s one case in which the “PX Deq Credit: send blkd” is arguably an “idle” wait (with a timeout of 2 seconds). It’s possible that the refresh could go faster if the OP enabled parallel DML.

New Version Of XPLAN_ASH Tool - Video Tutorial

A new major release (version 3.0) of my XPLAN_ASH tool is available for download.

You can download the latest version here.

In addition to many changes to the way the information is presented and many other smaller changes to functionality there is one major new feature: XPLAN_ASH now also supports S-ASH, the free ASH implementation.

If you run XPLAN_ASH in a S-ASH repository owner schema, it will automatically detect that and adjust accordingly.

XPLAN_ASH was tested against the latest stable version of S-ASH (2.3). There are some minor changes required to that S-ASH release in order to function properly with XPLAN_ASH. Most of them will be included in the next S-ASH release as they really are only minor and don't influence the general S-ASH functionality at all.

Free Webinar

It's webinar time again.

Join me on Wednesday, May 8th at for an overview session on the specifics of Oracle Parallel Execution.

The session starts at 16:00 UK (17:00 Central European) time. The webinar is totally free and the recording will made available afterwards.

Here's the link to the official landing page where you can register and below is the official abstract:


"Cost-free" joins - 2

In the previous post I've demonstrated an unexpected Nested Loop Join caused by an extreme data distribution. Although unexpected at first sight, the performance of the execution plan selected by the optimizer is decent - provided the estimates are in the right ballpark.Here is another case of an unexpected execution plan, this time about Merge Joins.

Merge Joins

In order to appreciate why the execution plan encountered is unexpected, first a quick summary about how Merge Joins work:A Merge Join is essentially a Nested Loop operation from one sorted row source into another sorted row source.

Hash Join Buffered


A few years ago Jonathan Lewis published a blog post that described one of the interesting side effects of Oracle's Parallel Execution implementation: Sometimes operations that usually are non-blocking will be turned into blocking ones.



DBMS_XPLAN.DISPLAY_CURSOR can be used to get more insights into the actual resource consumption on execution plan operation level when using the GATHER_PLAN_STATISTICS hint (from 10g on), or increasing the STATISTICS_LEVEL parameter to ALL (on session level, on system level the overhead is probably prohibitive).As soon as a SQL execution is done (either successfully, cancelled or with error) the corresponding extended data in the child cursor gets populated/updated and the additional information about the actual runtime profile can be accessed via V$SQL_PLAN_STATISTICS resp.

OTN Mini Series "Understanding Parallel Execution"

As already announced previously OTN has now managed to publish my two part series called "Understanding Parallel Execution".

Part 1
Part 2

Thanks to Bob Rhubart from Oracle for his support in getting the articles published.

The articles should give you also an idea of what I cover in my "Mastering Oracle Parallel Execution" one day Oracle Expert seminar. More information can be found here.

New Version Of XPLAN_ASH Utility

A new version 2.0 of the XPLAN_ASH utility introduced here is available for download.You can download the latest version here.The change log tracks the following changes:- Access check- Conditional compilation for different database versions- Additional activity summary- Concurrent activity information (what is/was going on at the same time)- Experimental stuff: Additional I/O summary- More pretty printing- Experimental stuff: I/O added to Average Active Session Graph (renamed to Activity Timeline)- Top Execution Plan Lines and Top Activities added to Activity Timeline- Activity Timeline is now also shown for serial execution when TIMELINE option is specified- From on: We get the ACTUAL DOP from the undocumented PX_FLAGS colu