by Philip Lambert
Default Block Size
chosen default block size of your database would have been
influenced by the type of application to be run on the database and
the operating system of its server (e.g. OLTP databases favour
smaller block sizes whereas data warehousing favour larger block
sizes). Choosing the default block size is outside the scope of this
Available Buffer Caches
Before decisions can be made on the tablespace strategy, an
understanding of the available caches is required.
For each block size used in the database there is an associated
buffer cache. In addition to the buffer caches there is a KEEP pool
cache to retain frequently used smaller tables, and a RECYCLE pool
cache for infrequently used larger tables. The keep and recycle
caches can only be used for data held in a default block size and
those segments configured to use them will always use these caches.
It is vital to allocate memory effectively
across all the caches to avoid an I/O-bound database. Oracle
Database 10g automates the management of certain aspects of shared
memory via its Automatic Shared Memory Management (ASMM) feature and
provides the following benefits:
Reduces the risk of running out of shared
Optimally uses available memory
Improves database performance by constantly
matching memory allocations and instance memory needs
The ASMM readjusts the sizes of the main pools
based on existing workloads.
Buffer cache (DB_CACHE_SIZE)
Shared pool (SHARED_POOL_SIZE)
Large pool (LARGE_POOL_SIZE)
Java pool (JAVA_POOL_SIZE)
Streams pool (STREAMS_POOL_SIZE)
Some pools in the SGA are not subject to
dynamic resizing, and must be specified explicitly, e.g.:
Log buffer (LOG_BUFFER)
DB buffer cache keep pool
DB buffer recycle pool (DB_RECYCLE_CACHE_SIZE)
DB buffer nK block size pools
Default Block Size Caches
The total default sized buffer cache is made up the following
Buffer cache (DEFAULT) – default buffer
cache – these are considered as the “warm” blocks in the
db buffer cache keep pool (KEEP) – for
segments accessed fairly frequently which if kept in the default
cache would be aged out – these are considered to be the “hot”
blocks in the database and ones that can lead to block
contention if not properly managed.
db buffer recycle pool (RECYCLE) – for
large segments accessed randomly which would cause excessive
buffering – these are the “do not care” blocks which should not
be allowed to interfere with the rest of the database.
These caches have the default block size and
therefore only used with objects stored in default block size tablespaces. Objects by default will use the DEFAULT buffer cache,
unless the BUFFER_POOL storage parameter is set to override it to
either the KEEP or RECYCLE buffer cache.
Non-default Block Size Tablespaces
block sizes may be used for different reasons:
Smaller sizes reduce the number of rows in
a block and can therefore reduce the risk of contention on hot
Larger blocks reduce the overhead on the
physical read, i.e. for the one read operation (which has its
overheads) you retrieve more data. These are favoured for data
subject to large scans (full table scans or index range scans).
Indexes favour large block sizes (though
this seems to be highly debated and many arguments against this
can be found on the Internet). The theory states that larger
block sizes on indexes reduce the number leaf blocks and improve
fast full index scans (FFI). However, if indexes are held in
non-default block size tablespaces, then they cannot benefit
from the KEEP and RECYCLE cache, which its table data may be
utilising. My angle on this is if we are experiencing sufficient
large IFFs in an OLTP database to warrant a separate large block
size tablespace, then there is probably an issue with the
Large rows which do not fit in a block will
suffer from row chaining and therefore would favour larger
blocks to reduce the overhead of block chaining. However, a
larger block size is not the only solution. If the row is large
because of inline LOBs, then these can be stored out of line.
Multiple VARCHAR2(4000) columns which fill up could be further
normalised into a more generic table holding a row per column,
etc - in effect simulating the LOBSEGMENT storage of LOBs.
Storage of LOBs
Columns with Character Large Object (CLOB) data types require
special consideration for their storage parameters and their
potential for caching. See the Oracle document
LOB Performance Guideline for a detailed explanation.
summary, a CLOB column on tables created with default settings will
hold its data in-line with the row in the same block (or chained
block), but if the data for a specific row exceeds 4k in size, then
it will be held out of line in a separate LOBSEGMENT for that row.
The storage and caching considerations are different for in-line and
out-of-line storage. In-line storage behaves in the same way as any
other non-LOB data on the table and is subjected to the same
caching. Out-of-line data is held in CHUNKS, sized in multiples of
the block size (default is the block size).
A separate tablespace
and BUFFER_POOL setting can be specified for the out-of-line storage
which would help prevent large amounts of data flushing through the
standard buffer cache. Whether the LOB segments are cached or not
can also be controlled.
The choice of the default block size for a database is very
important and requires careful consideration. More importantly, the
use of non-default block size tablespaces needs careful
consideration to ensure that the maximum benefits of the various
buffer caches are achieved and to ensure decisions do not actual
have a detrimental effect on the performance of the database.
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.