by Philip Lambert
There are two main block contention effects
that can be experienced by an Oracle database and show up as
database wait events:
Buffer Busy Waits
These are common in an I/O-bound Oracle system,
as evidenced by any system with read (sequential/scattered) waits in
the top-five waits. The two main cases where this wait can occur
Cache buffers chains latch waits (CBC)
This alternatively referred to as "hot block"
contention. The cache buffers chains latches are used to protect a
buffer list in the buffer cache. These latches are used when
searching for, adding, or removing a buffer from the buffer cache.
Blocks in the buffer cache are placed on linked lists (cache buffer
chains) which hang off a hash table. The hash chain that a block is
placed on is based on the DBA and CLASS of the block. Each hash
chain is protected by a single child latch. Processes need to get
the relevant latch to allow them to scan a hash chain for a buffer
so that the linked list does not change underneath them. The two
main cases where this wait can occur are:
Very long buffer chains. Use multiple
buffer pools to spread things out or use DB_BLOCK_LRU_LATCHES to
increase the number of latches.
Very heavy access to the same blocks.
Typically it indicates a query that might need to be tuned (to
access less blocks hence avoiding the collisions)
SQL with Excessive I/O
Block contention can be remedied by tuning bad
SQL suffering excessive and un-necessary block reads, i.e. reduce
the I/O. The things to look out for are:
Check for SQL statements using unselective
indexes (long index range scans), particularly with indexes with
a poor clustering factor. (Clustering factor is a metric to
indicate how contiguous the blocks on the underlying table when
the indexed is scanned sequentially).
Check for SQL using un-necessary large full
table scans. Unnecessary large-table full-table scans consume a
high amount of disk I/O that can drag-down the performance of
the whole database. Small-table full table scans are acceptable,
so long as these tables are cached in the KEEP pool. To evaluate
whether a full table scan is large requires looking at the
number of rows returned by a large-table full-table scan to
determine if an index range scan will make the query run faster
and with less disk I/O. In general, though it is impossible to
define any specific guideline, a SQL query that accesses more
than 40% of the rows in a table will run faster with a
full-table scan, depending on the degree of parallelism for the
table and the setting for db_file_multiblock_read_count. For
those queries that return less than 40% of table rows, you
should consider adding indexes and hints to remove the
full-table scan and force an index range scan.
Check for skewed indexes i.e. ones that
insert serial numbers generated from a sequence. On an OLTP
system this can force all the activity at the latest entries
which will all be in the same blocks. A solution is to use
reverse-key indexes as long as the index is not required for
Check for small tables that are frequently
accessed. E.g. a table has 10 rows, all 10 rows fit into a
single block, and the block then gets hammered. A possible
solution is to "alter table minimize records_per_block" (which
is really intended for tables with many BITMAP indexes) and have
just 1 or 2 records/block, or set PCTFREE really high to force
one record per block.
Check for tables that have a high level of
concurrent inserts either from other sessions or through
parallel processing. These will cause buffer busy waits on data
blocks and can be resolved by increasing the number of FREELISTS
for the table.
Consider using Automatic Segment-Space
Management (ASSM). It is a simpler and more efficient way of
managing space within a segment and completely eliminates any
need to specify and tune the PCTUSED, FREELISTS, and FREELIST
GROUPS storage parameters.
Consider increasing the INITRANS
table/index storage parameter on segments suffering high write
concurrency. The INITRANS setting controls Initial Transaction
Slots (ITLs), where a transaction slot is required for any
session that needs to modify a block on an object. The more
concurrency there is on a block, then the higher this setting
needs to be (up to a maximum of 255, the default for tables
being 1, where the value is the expected concurrency on a
Shrink segments that have a lot of empty
blocks and subject to large full table scans (ultimately there
should not be any large full table scans in an OLTP database). A
table scan will always scan up to the High Water Mark (HWM) even
if space is not used. Common offenders are process that
repeatedly insert and delete data on a table, particularly via
an INSERT /*+APPEND */ without a TRUNCATE … DISCARD STORAGE.
Tablespaces with ASSM enabled will manage this automatically.
NOTE: Segment shrink is not supported for tables with
function-based indexes, domain indexes, or bitmap join indexes
and the table must have ROW MOVEMENT enabled.
Many of the
points discussed in this article can be pre-empted during database
design and therefore avoid the database performance crises that can
often hit a development project.