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Index Organized Tables – the Basics. July 18, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in development, internals, performance.
Tags: , , , ,

..>IOT2 – Examples and proofs
….>IOT3 – Greatly reducing IO with IOTs
……>IOT4 – Boosting Buffer Cache Efficiency
……..>IOT5 – Primary Key issues
……….>IOT6a – Slowing Down Insert
…………>IOT6(B) – OLTP Inserts

I think Index Organized Tables(IOTs) are a much under-used and yet very useful feature of Oracle. Over the next few postings I’m going to cover some aspect of Index Organised Tables, both good and not-so-good. I am going to cover some benefits of IOTs that I think many people are unaware of. In this first post I am just going to run through the basics of IOTs.

The idea behind an IOT is simple. You hold all the data for the table in the ordered structure of an index. Why would you want to do that? Let us consider a very common requirement, accessing a row in a “large” table via a known, unique key.

Traditionally you have a heap table holding the data you want to access and a standard index to support access to that table. See the first diagram below. The 4-layer triangle represents the index, with a root block, two levels of branch blocks and then the leaf blocks at the “bottom”. The blue rectangle represents the table with the squares being individual rows. Of course, in a large table there would be thousands or millions of “squares”, this is just a simple diagram to show the idea.

When you issue a SQL statement to select the row via the indexed column(s) then oracle will read the root block (1), find the relevent block in the first level of branch blocks (2), then the relevant block in the second level of branch blocks (3) and finally (as far as the index is concerned) the relevant Leaf Block for the unique key. The leaf block holds the indexed column(s) and also the rowid. The rowid is the fastest way to look up a record, it states the file, block and row offset for the row. This allows oracle to go straight to the block and get the row. That is read number (5).
The number of branch blocks {and thus the number of blocks that need to be read to find a row} will vary depending on how much data is indexed, the number and size of the columns in the index, how efficiently the space has been used in the blocks and one or two other factors. In my experience most indexes for tables with thousands or millions of rows have one, two or three levels of branch blocks.

The second diagram shows a representation of the Index Organized Table. The table has in effect disappeared as a distinct object and the information has been moved into the leaf blocks of the index {part of me feels Index Organized Tables should really be called Table Organized Indexes or Table Containing Indexes as that would better indicate what is physically done}:

So with the IOT oracle reads the root block (1), the two branch level blocks (2 and 3) and finally the leaf block (4). The leaf block does not hold the rowid but rather the rest of the columns for the table {this can be changed, a more advanced feature allows you to store some or all the extra columns in an overflow segment}. Thus to access the same data, Oracle has to read only 4 blocks, not 5. Using an IOT saves one block read per unique lookup.

This saving of block reads is probably the main feature that IOTs are known for, but there are others which I will cover in later posts. Two things I will mention now is that, firstly, the use of IOTs is potentially saving disc space. An index is in effect duplication of data held in the table. When you create an index no new information is created but space is used up holding some of the table information in a structure suitable for fast lookup. Secondly, the index and table have to be maintained whenever a change is made to the columns that are indexed. IOTs reduce this maintenance overhead as there is only one thing to maintain.

Now for some drawbacks.

  • The IOT has to be indexed on the primary key. There is no option to create an IOT based on other indexes. As such you have to either be accessing the table via the primary key to get the benefit – or you have to be a little cunning.
  • The index is going to be larger than it was and very often larger than the original table. This can slow down range scans or full scans of the index and a “full table scan” will now be a full index scan on this large object, so that can also negatively impact performance. However, if a range scan would then have resulted in access to the table to get extra columns, the IOT gives a similar benefit in reducing IO to that for single row lookups.
  • I just want to highlight that you now have no rowid for the rows.
  • Secondary indexes are supported but will potentially be less efficient due to this lack of rowid.

So, a brief summary is that Index Organised Tables effectively move the table data into the Primary Key index, reduce the number of block lookups needed to select one row, can save some disc space. But you can only organize the table via the Primary Key and it can make full or partial table scans and lookups via other indexes slower.

There are several more important benefits to IOTs {in my opinion} which I will come to over the next week or two.

Fastest £1,000 server – what happened? July 12, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in One Grand Server, performance.

A couple of people have asked me recently what happened to that “fastest Oracle server for a grand” idea I had last year, after all I did announce I had bought the machine.

{Update – it came back.}
Well, a couple of things happened. Firstly, what was a small job for a client turned into a much more demanding job for a client – not so much mentally harder as time-consuming harder and very time consuming it was. So the playing had to go on hold, the client comes first. The server sat in the corner of the study, nagging me to play with it, but it remained powered down.
Secondly, when the work life quietened down last month and I decided to spend a weekend getting that server set up I hit an issue. I turned on the server and it turned itself straight off. It than rested for 5 seconds and turned itself back on for half a second – and then straight off. It would cycle like that for as long as I was willing to let it.

OK, duff power switch, mother board fault, something not plugged in right, PSU not reaching stable voltage… I opened the case and checked everything was plugged in OK and found the manufacturer had covered everything with that soft resin to hold things in place. I pressed on all the cards etc in hope but no, it was probably going to have to go back. It is still in warranty, the manufacturer can fix it.

So I rang the manufacturer and had the conversation. They were not willing to try and diagnose over the phone so I had to agree to ship it back to them to be fixed {I did not go for on-site support as the only time I did, with Evesham Micros, they utterly refused to come out to fix the problem. Mind you, it turns out they were counting down the last week or two before going bust and, I suspect, knew this}. I shipped it back and the waiting began. Emails ignored, hard to get on touch over the phone. Over three weeks on and they only started looking at the machine last Friday (they claim).

On the positive side, this delay means that solid state storage is becoming very affordable and I might be able to do some more interesting things within my budget.
On the bad side the technology has moved on and I could get a better server for the same money now, but that is always the case. Mine does not have the latest Sandy Bridge Intel processor for example. Also, I have time now to work on it, I hope not to have time next month as I’d like to find some clients to employ me for a bit!

I better go chase the manufacturer. If it is not fixed and on its way back very, very soon then they will be off my list of suppliers and I’ll be letting everyone know how good their support isn’t.

Why is my SYSAUX Tablespace so Big? Statistics_level=ALL June 2, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in AWR, performance.
Tags: , ,

One of my most popular postings is about why your SYSTEM tablespace could be rather large. Recently I’ve had issues with a SYSAUX tablespace being considerably larger than I expected, so I thought I would do a sister posting on the reason.

The client I was working with at the time was about to go live with a new application and database. For various reasons I was a little anxious about how the Java application (the User Interface) would actually call the stored PL/SQL code I had helped develop. Initial workloads would be low and so I asked that the STATISTICS_LEVEL be set to ALL, so that bind variables (amongst other things) would be gathered. This is on version, btw, enterprise edition and 4-node RAC.

We went live, issues were encountered and resolved, the usual way these things work. Then, a few weeks in and when everything was still very “exciting” from a problem resolution perspective, I got an odd email from the DBA team. Would they like us to add another datafile to the SYSAUX tablespace. Huh? I checked. I’d been watching the size of our application’s tablespaces but not the others {well, I was not supposed to be a DBA and I was watching an awful lot of other things}. Our SYSAUX tablespace was around 160GB in size, having pretty much filled it’s 5th datafile. Why? I checked to see what was taking up the space in the tablespace:

 select * from
 (select owner,segment_name||'~'||partition_name segment_name,bytes/(1024*1024) size_m
 from dba_segments
 where tablespace_name = 'SYSAUX'
 where rownum < 40

OWNER              SEGMENT_NAME                                             SIZE_M
------------------ -------------------------------------------------- ------------
SYS                WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_3911            27,648
SYS                WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_3911         26,491
SYS                WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_3537            23,798
SYS                WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_3537         22,122
SYS                WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_4296            17,378
SYS                WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_4296         16,818
SYS                WRH$_ACTIVE_SESSION_HISTORY~WRH$_ACTIVE_14459270_3          136
SYS                WRH$_SQLSTAT~WRH$_SQLSTA_14459270_3911                       96
SYS                WRH$_SQLSTAT~WRH$_SQLSTA_14459270_3537                       72
SYS                WRH$_SQLSTAT~WRH$_SQLSTA_14459270_4296                       47
SYS                WRH$_LATCH_MISSES_SUMMARY_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_           45
SYS                I_WRI$_OPTSTAT_H_OBJ#_ICOL#_ST~                              41
SYS                WRH$_SYSMETRIC_SUMMARY~                                      40
SYS                WRH$_LATCH_MISSES_SUMMARY_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_           37

As you can see, almost all the space is being taken up by WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN and WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK partitions. They are massive compared to other objects. A quick goggle did not come up with much other than many hits just listing what is in SYSAUX and the odd person also seeing SYSAUX being filled up with these objects and suggested ways to clear down space, nothing about the cause.

I had a chat with the DBAs and we quickly decided that this was going to be something to do with AWR given the name of objects – “WRH$_” objects are the things underlying AWR. The DBA suggested my settings of 15 minute intervals and 35 day retention was too aggressive. I knew this was not the case, I’ve had more aggressive snapshot intervals and longer retention periods on far busier systems than this. I did not have access to Metalink at that point so I asked the DBAs to raise a ticket, which they duly did.

Oracle support cogitated for a couple of days and came back with the advice to reduce the retention period. Hmmmm. Via the DBA I asked Oracle support to explain why those objects were so large when I had not seen this issue on several other systems. Was it a bug? I had by now corroborated with a friend from a previous site with 5 minute snapshot intervals and two months retention period and their SYSAUX tablespace was about 10GB all in. I did not want to go changing things if we did not know it would fix the issue as we really wanted to stop the growth of SYSAUX as soon as possible, not just try a hunch.

As you probably realise from the title of this blog, the issue was not the snapshot interval or retention period but the STATISTICS_LEVEL=ALL. The one and only hit you get in metalink if you search on WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN is note 874518.1. From V10.1.0.2 to V11.1.0.7 setting this parameter to ALL is known to create a lot of data about Latch children and not clear it down when the AWR data is purged (Bug 8289729). The advice was to change STATISTICS_LEVEL and make the snapshot interval larger. I’d suggest you just need to alter the STATISTICS_LEVEL, unless you really, really need that extra information gathered. It seemed to take Oracle Support an extra day or two to find that note for us. {I’ve since checked out Metalink directly to confirm all this}.

So with a known issue we felt confident that altering the initialisation parameter would solve the issue. It took a while for us to change the STATISTICS_LEVEL on the production system – Change Control for that site is rather robust. This allowed us to see some other impacts of this issue.

The mmon process which looks after AWR data was becoming a top session in our OEM performance screens. In particular, a statement with SQL id 2prbzh4qfms7u that inserted into the WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN table was taking several seconds to run each time and was running quite often {I include the SQL ID as it may be the same on many oracle V10 systems as it is internal code}:

The internal SQL inserting into wrh$_latch_children was becoming demanding

This was doing a lot of IO, by far the majority of the IO on our system at the time – it was a new system and we had been able to tune out a lot of the physical IO.

The physical IO requirements and 15-20 second elapsed time made this out most demanding statement on the system

We also now started to have issues with mmon running out of undo space when it ran at the same time as our daily load. This was particularly unfortunate as it coincided in a period of “intense management interest” in the daily load…

What was happening to the size of the SYSAUX tablespace?

Enter the tablespace (or leave null)> sys

TS_NAME              ORD      SUM_BLKS        SUM_K  MAX_CHNK_K NUM_CHNK
-------------------- ----- ----------- ------------ ----------- --------
SYSAUX               alloc  58,187,904  465,503,232  33,553,408       14
                     free       10,728       85,824      21,504       20
SYSTEM               alloc     128,000    1,024,000   1,024,000        1
                     free       68,360      546,880     546,752        3

4 rows selected.

select * from
(select owner,segment_name||'~'||partition_name segment_name,bytes/(1024*1024) size_m
 from dba_segments
 where tablespace_name = 'SYSAUX'
where rownum < 40

OWNER    SEGMENT_NAME                                                     SIZE_M
-------- ------------------------------------------------------------ ----------
SYS      WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_6201                     30262
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_5817                     29948
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_5435                     28597
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_4675                     28198
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_3911                     27648
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_5817                  27144
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_6585                     26965
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_6201                  26832
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_4675                  26741
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_3911                  26491
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_4296                     26307
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_5435                  26248
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_4296                  25430
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_6585                  25064
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_5058                     24611
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_5058                  23161
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_6966                      9209
         WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK~WRH$_LATCH__14459270_6966                   8462
         WRH$_SYSMETRIC_SUMMARY~                                             152
         WRH$_ACTIVE_SESSION_HISTORY~WRH$_ACTIVE_14459270_3911               136
         WRH$_SQLSTAT~WRH$_SQLSTA_14459270_3911                               96


OWNER                          OBJ_PART_NAME                                SIZE_M
------------------------------ ---------------------------------------- ----------
SYS                            WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN-WRH                  231745.063
SYS                            WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK-WRH               215573.063
SYS                            WRH$_SQLSTAT-WRH                           711.0625
SYS                            WRH$_LATCH_MISSES_SUMMARY_PK-WRH           439.0625
SYS                            WRH$_ACTIVE_SESSION_HISTORY-WRH            437.0625
SYS                            WRH$_LATCH_PARENT-WRH                      292.0625
SYS                            WRH$_LATCH-WRH                             276.0625
SYS                            WRH$_LATCH_MISSES_SUMMARY-WRH              273.0625
SYS                            WRH$_SEG_STAT-WRH                          268.0625
SYS                            WRH$_LATCH_PARENT_PK-WRH                   239.0625
SYS                            WRH$_SYSSTAT_PK-WRH                        237.0625

Yes, that is close to half a terabyte of SYSAUX and it is all used, more partitions have appeared and the total size of the largest segments in SYSAUX show how WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN and WRH$_LATCH_CHILDREN_PK make up the vast majority of the space used.

Shortly after, we finally got permission to change the live system. The impact was immediate, mmon dropped from being the most demanding session, that SQL code dropped down the rankings and the issues with running out of undo ceased.

I was anxious to see if the old data got purged, as the Metalink note had suggested the data would not be purged. Thankfully, that was not the case. The space was slowly released as normal purging of data outside the retention period took place and after just over a month, the SYSAUX tablespace contained a lot less information and was mostly free space:

OWNER      OBJ_PART_NAME                                SIZE_M
---------- ---------------------------------------- ----------
SYS        WRH$_LATCH_MISSES_SUMMARY_PK-WRH           512.0625
SYS        WRH$_LATCH_MISSES_SUMMARY-WRH              350.0625
SYS        WRH$_LATCH-WRH                             304.0625
SYS        WRH$_SQLSTAT-WRH                           280.0625
SYS        WRH$_LATCH_PK-WRH                          259.0625
SYS        WRH$_SYSSTAT_PK-WRH                        247.0625
SYS        WRH$_SERVICE_STAT_PK-WRH                   228.0625
SYS        WRH$_PARAMETER_PK-WRH                      201.0625
SYS        WRH$_PARAMETER-WRH                         169.0625
SYS        WRH$_SYSSTAT-WRH                           169.0625
SYS        WRH$_SEG_STAT-WRH                          161.0625
SYS        WRH$_SYSTEM_EVENT_PK-WRH                   156.0625
SYS        WRH$_SYSMETRIC_SUMMARY-                         152
SYS        WRH$_SYSTEM_EVENT-WRH                      133.0625
SYS        WRH$_SERVICE_STAT-WRH                      123.0625
SYS        WRH$_ACTIVE_SESSION_HISTORY-WRH            115.0625

TS_NAME              ORD      SUM_BLKS        SUM_K  MAX_CHNK_K NUM_CHNK
-------------------- ----- ----------- ------------ ----------- --------
SYSAUX               alloc  58,251,904  466,015,232  33,553,408       15
                     free   57,479,400  459,835,200   4,063,232    1,208
SYSTEM               alloc     128,000    1,024,000   1,024,000        1
                     free       68,048      544,384     544,320        2

Now, how do we get that space back? I left that with the DBA team to resolve.

Oh, one last thing. I mentioned the above to a couple of the Oaktable lot in the pub a few weeks back. Their instant response was to say “You set STATISTICS_LEVEL to ALL on a live system?!? You are mad!”

{Update, I’ve just spotted this posting by Colbran which is related. Last time I googled this I just got a stub with no information}

I am Neo off the Matrix (apparently) March 30, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in AWR, performance.
Tags: , ,

I know I have mentioned it before, but I am a big fan of the OEM performance screens that are derived from the ASH/AWR information. One of the things I really like about it is the immediate information it gives you, in one glance, that things are “not normal”. Once you notice that things are not normal you can then, within a few seconds, get a feel for what is still probably OK and where you have something that has changed.

As an example of the immediate information, I recently came back to my desk and glanced at my OEM performance screen. It was showing the below:

This will not be an interesting picture to you, but to me it tells me a lot about my system

“data load has just ran” I said to my comrade-in-arms. “which one?” he asked. “The Delta – It ran the quick plan. But it started a bit late, 12:15. Oh, and looks like the transaction view code has swapped back to the full table scan plan and the summary code is not playing up at the moment.”

“you’re turning into Neo you are – can you see a lady in a red dress???” he asked.

That was of course a reference to the “Matrix” films where at times you see the virtual world displayed on a screen as a stream of characters running down the screen – but once you get used to it you can apparently “see” what is going.

The screen shot above is not even actually a very good example of what the performance screens can show you. One of my minor complaints about the performance screens is that it scales to show the greatest of the largest peak or a number of sessions to match the number of CPUs (real or fake) that are available to you. So if you have more CPU available than you need, you can’t see much detail in the graph. And if you have had a nasty peak of activity, again, all detail is squeezed out. In my case, the box is sized to cope in 12 months and the system is new, so activity is scuttling along the bottom of the graph.

However, “poor” though the example is, it told me what was going on across my system at a glance, something about the major tasks we are running, that one problem is currently occurring and that several of the other issues I need to keep an eye out for are not occurring.

That is why I love these screens – I recognise “my” activity patterns from the graph, I now recognise the SQL IDs for my key statements. If I see a pattern in the graph I don’t recognise, I need to check things out immediately. Three or four times over the last 2 weeks I have spotted an issues, started investigating and found out the cause before the Operations desk has even noticed an issue.

Oh, and what is SQL type 189? It is a merge statement. Our implementation of OEM is a little old, it does not correctly interpret that SQL command type. It might be a little old, it is still a lot useful.

Server Bought for the 1 Grand Challenge December 6, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Architecture, One Grand Server, performance.
Tags: ,

What seems like a couple of months ago I suggested the idea of The Fastest Oracle Server for a Grand. It turns out this was actually over 1/3 of a year ago! {such is the rapid passing of normal time}. Anyway, I’ve decided to give this a go.

The intention is that I am going to build a server based on PC technology which costs less than £1,000 and see how fast I can make it go. Of course “how fast” is a “piece of string” question – it depends on what you put into the Oracle database, how you want to use or manipulate the data and how business-ready the system is. I’m intending to build something that looks very, very un-business ready. That is, not a lot of redundancy. Before anyone wants to shoot me down for that (a) I am not running a bank or anything to do with finance (b) why are banks systems that only deal with cash so much more regulated and goverend than medical systems that are only relied on to keep you alive? (c) some of the biggest systems I know of are actually running on something close to PC kit.

I’m quietly confident I can build something that out-performs systems consisting 100 times as much. Now, that is a massive claim and I won’t be too sad if I fall short, but you can do a lot with modest kit. I worked for a charity for 6 years and boy did I see some clever stuff done on the sort of budget many organisation spend on office stationary.

So, what have I got so far? I confess I held off until I saw some new technology appear in a price band I could squeeze in. Namely USB3 and SATA3. There is always something just around the corner but I wanted those as I want to maximise the impact of solid state storage. So, my base server is:

  • Asus P7P55D-E motherboard supporting DDR3, USB3 and SATA3
  • Intel i5 760 2.8HHz chip
  • 8GB memory
  • 1TB samsung 7200rpm SATAII disk
  • AZCool Infinity 800W PSU
  • Coolmaster Elite RC-335 case

I chose the motherboard as it was getting good reviews and had the SATA3 and USB3 ports. I chose the case as it was large enough to take many hard drives, small enough to lug about and was a nice case. I stuck to 8GB RAM as RAM is expensive at the moment, but as it is in 2GB chunks I might regret that choice as all my slots are full. Many people forget the PSU but it’s like the tyers on your car. Those tyers keep you stuck to the road, a PSU keeps you powered. It might be utilitarian but they are vital and often overlooked. The hard disc is pretty good, but very likely to be swapped out (I don’t mind sticking it in another system). The CPU is a proper quad core CPU. I had plenty of scope to go bigger and better on the CPU but for grunt for cash, it seems presently to be the sweet spot.

The basic unit is not overclocked. I will increase the cooling and overclocking will be an option. It comes with 64 bit windows but linux is almost certainly going to be the faster option. No monitor is included but hey, it’s a database server, you don’t need fancy graphics. That old CRT in the corner will do! The server does have a rather nice nVidia GeForce GTX 460 in it but I am cutting out the cost of that. The server is currently the best gaming machine I have but that will end when I get time to start working on the Oracle side.

Total cost, £615 or so. That is like $615 seeing as we get so ripped off in the UK for IT kit. I can now go spend money on more fast hard discs, SSDs, even fast USB memory sticks. Any suggestions, I am happy to listen.

The biggest question is – When am I going to get time to work on this damn thing?

How Fast for £1,000 – Architecture August 5, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Architecture, performance, Testing.
Tags: , , ,

My previous post proposed the creation of “the fastest Oracle server for a grand”, or at least an investigation into what might be the fastest server. I’ve had some really good feedback {which I very much appreciate and am open to even more of}, so I think I’ll explore this further.

My initial ideas for the hardware configuration, written at the same time as the original post, were:

  • A single-chip, quad core intel core i5 or i7 processor (I would like two chips but the cost of multi-chip motherboards seems too high for my budget)
  • 8GB of memory as the best price point at present, but maybe push to 16GB
  • Multiple small, fast internal disks for storage, maybe expand via eSATA
  • backup to an external drive (cost not included in the budget).
  • USB3 and use of memory sticks for temp and online redo.
  • If budget will stretch, SSD disc for the core database components. like core tables, index tablespaces (who does that any more!).
    ASM or no ASM?
    If I run out of internal motherboard connections for storage, can I mix and match with USB3, external e-SATA or even GB ethernet?

As for the Oracle database considerations, I have a good few things I want to try out also. In the past (both distant and recent) I have had a lot of success in placing components of the database in specific locations. I refer to this as “Physical Implementation” {Physical Implementation, if I remember my old DB Design courses correctly, also includes things like partitioning, extent management, tablespace attributes – how you actually implement the tables, indexes and constraints that came from logical data design}.

Physically placing components like undo and redo logs on your fastest storage is old-hat but I think it gets overlooked a lot these days.
Placing of indexes and tables on different tablespaces on different storage is again an old and partially discredited practice, but I’d like to go back and have a new look at it. Again, I had some success with improved performance with this approach as little as 8 years ago but never got to rigorously test and document it. { As an aside, one benefit I have been (un)fortunate to gain from twice through putting tables and indexes in separate tablespaces is when a tablespace has been lost through file corruption – only for it to be an index tablespace, so I was able to just drop the tablespace and recreate the indexes.}

Then there is the use of clusters, IOTs, Bitmap indexes and Single Table Hash Clusters (are you reading this Piet?) which I want to explore again under 11.

I don’t think I am going to bother with mixed block sizes in one DB, I think you need very specialist needs to make it worth the overhead of managing the various caches and the fact that the CBO is not so great at accurately costing operations in non-standard block sizes {issues with the MBRC fudge factor being one}. But I think I will re-visit use of “keep” and “recycle” caches. For one thing, I want to show that they are just caches with a name and not special, by using the “Recycle” cache as the keep and the “keep” as a recycle cache.

Should I be using RAT for testing all of this? I said I was not going to use any special features beyond Enterprise edition but RAT could be jolly useful. But then I would need two servers. Is anyone willing to give me the other £1000 for it? I’d be ever so grateful! :-)

An Oracle server – How Fast for £1,000 July 27, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Architecture, performance, Testing.

Question? How fast an Oracle server can you create for £1,000 pounds?

{I’d really appreciate feedback and suggestions on this particular post}

The power of domestic PCs continues to grow, with four-core chips become pretty much standard and starting RAM looking more like 4GB than 2GB, with 8GB quite reasonable. So, how quick an Oracle server can you make based on a domestic PC? After all, those of us who play with Oracle in our spare time tned to use such machines and, in fact, they are often not far off what are our smaller servers at the office really are. When I worked at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, we had to make our IT budget pounds go a long way. We were, after all, a charity with a limited budget but also a scientific organisation with a huge demand for data and processing. So we used a lot of cheap kit.

I’m seriously thinking of giving this a go. I need a new PC anyway and so I am willing to use it, at least initially, to see what can be done.

If I do this, I’m going to need to set some boundaries on the exercise. How about:

  • The oracle licence is being ignored in the cost {and please, I don’t need to be told how the licence can be more than the hardware costs!}. OS cost is though.
  • I am not aiming for enterprise-level resilience, so I am not going to consider hot-swappable components, dual redundant power supplies or things like that.
  • I am going to use new kit, so no scavenging or buying second-hand. It must all be easily available and repeatable.
  • I will use local storage in the server or connected to ports available on the server.
  • It will support a database of 1TB in size {yet to be designed}.
  • Oracle v11. Enterprise edition but nothing special like TimesTen or Exadata (unless Oracle are willing to sell me an Exadata box for a grand, then I’ll consider it).
  • I’m not considering backup and recovery performance {and this would be a serious oversight if this was a real system, but most places have central backup/recovery facilities}.

I would also have a few other things to decide.

The main one is “Do I use Linux or Windows?” Yes, you are all probably shouting “Linux!!!” but I have never been a Linux sys admin (I was an incredibly poor HP-UX system admin for 3 months though) so it will take me more time to deal with issues under Linux - in work situations I have always had access to people who know all this stuff to sort out issues but in this case I will be doing this on my own. On the other hand, you can just chuck Oracle on a standard windows box and it works, and as a rule hardware just works under Windows. If I decide to use USB3 ports, for example, is it going to be a major pain getting drivers under Linux? But then if I want the fastest oracle box under a grand why would I slow it down with windows and spend money on the licence? I just want the box to run Oracle and a workload.

The second “software” decision is, how do I measure performance? I think I could be getting to grips with Dom Giles’ excellent Swingbench {BTW, nice tag line on that page, Dom :-)}. But it runs on Java and guess what boys and girls? I’ve never been a Java developer. How limited are my skills! So that would take some of my precious spare time up too.

I’d love feedback on this, I’d love to know what hardware suggestions you would make, what you think about the overall idea, what else I need to consider to make the tests valid… I have a few ideas already for the hardware architecture and the intention would be to try lots of things but I’ll save that for a second post. After all, if I get no feedback I might just spend the money on a gaming machine and a week’s walking in the Lake District instead.

And if anyone want to help with the cost, please send cheques to….

More Memory Meanderings – IOPS and Form Factors July 19, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Architecture, Management, performance.
Tags: ,

I had a few comments when I posted on solid state memory last week and I also had a couple of interesting email discussions with people.

I seriously failed to make much of one of the key advantages of solid-state storage over disk storage, which is the far greater capacity of Input/output operations per second (IOPS), which was picked up by Neil Chandler. Like many people, I have had discussions with the storage guys about why I think the storage is terribly slow and they think it is fast. They look at the total throughput from the storage to the server and tell me it is fine. It is not great ,they say, but it is {let’s say for this example} passing 440MB a second over to the server. That is respectable and I should stop complaining.

The problem is, they are just looking at throughput, which seems to be the main metric they are concerned about after acreage. This is probably not really their fault, it is the way the vendors approach things too. However, my database is just concerned in creating, fetching, and altering records and it does it as input/output operations. Let us say a disk can manage 80 IOPS per second (which allows an average 12.5 ms to both seek to the record and also read the data. Even many modern 7,200 rpm discs struggle to average less than 12ms seek time). We have 130 disks in this example storage array and there is no overhead from any sort of raid or any bottleneck in passing the data back to the server. {This is of course utterly unbelievable, but if i have been a little harsh not stating the discs can manage 8ms seek time, ignoring the raid/hba/network cost covers that}. Each disc is a “small” one of 500GB. They bought cheap disk to give us as many MB/£ as they could {10,000 and 15,0000 rpm disks will manage 120 and 160 IOPS per second but cost more per MB}.

Four sessions on my theoretical database are doing full table scans, 1MB of data per IO {Oracle’s usual max on 10.2}, Each session receiving 100MB of data a second, so 400MB in total. 5 discs {5*80 IOPS*1MB} could supply that level of IOPS. It is a perfect database world and there are no blocks in the cache already for these scans to interrupt the multi-block reads.

However, my system is primarily an OLTP system and the other IO is records being read via index lookups and single block reads or writes.

Each IOP reads the minimum for the database, which is a block. A block is 4k. Oracle can’t read a bit of a block.

Thus the 40MB of other data being transferred from (or to) the storage is single block reads of 4k. 10,000 of them. I will need 10,000/80 disks to support that level of IO. That is 125 discs, running flat out.

So, I am using all my 130 discs and 96% of them are serving 40MB of requests and 4% are serving 400MB of requests. As you can see, as an OLTP database I do not care about acreage or throughput. I want IOPS. I need all those spindles to give me the IOPS I need.

What does the 40MB of requests actually equate to? Let us say our indexes are small and efficient and have a height of 3 (b-level of 2), so root node, one level of branch nodes and then the leaf nodes. To get a row you need to read the root node, branch node, lead node and then the table block. 4 IOs. So those 10,000 IOPS are allowing us to read or write 10,000/4 records a second or 2,500 records.
You can read 2,500 records a second.

Sounds a lot? Well, let us say you are pulling up customer records onto a screen and the main page pulls data from 3 main tables (customer, address, account_summary) and translates 6 fields via lookups. I’ll be kind and say the lookups are tiny and oracle just reads the block or blocks of the table with one IO. So that is 9IOs for the customer screen, so if our 40MB OLTP IO was all for looking up customers then you could show just under 280 customers a second, across all users of your database. If you want to pull up the first screen of the orders summary, each screen record derived from 2 underlying main tables and again half a dozen lookups, but now with 10 records per summary page – that is 80 IOs for the page. Looking at a customer and their order summary you are down to under thirty a second across your whole organisation and doing nothing else.

You get the idea. 2,500 IOPS per second is tiny. Especially as those 130 500GB disks give you 65TB of space to host your database on. Yes, it is potentially a big database.

The only way any of this works is due to the buffer cache. If you have a very healthy buffer cache hit ratio of 99% then you can see that your 2500 records of physical IO coming in and out of the storage sub-system is actually supporting 250,000 logical-and-physical IOPS. {And in reality, many sites not buffer at the application layer too}.

Using Solid State Storage would potentially give you a huge boost in performance for your OLTP system, even if the new technology was used to simply replicate disk storage.

I think you can tell that storage vendors are very aware of this issue as seek time and IOPS is not metrics that tend to jump out of the literature for disk storage. In fact, often it is not mentioned at all. I have just been looking at some modern sales literature and white papers on storage from a couple of vendors and they do not even mention IOPS – but they happily quote acreage and maximum transfer rates. That is, until you get to information on Solid State Discs. NOw, because the vendor can say good things bout the situation then the information is there. On one HP white paper the figures given are:

				Modern super-fast		Top-end 
				SAS disk drive Top-end 	Solid State Disk
Sustained write     	150MB/s			180MB/s
Sustained read			90MB/s			180MB/s
Random write			285				5,000+
Random read				340				20,000+ 

More and more these days, as a DBA you do not need or want to state your storage requirements in terms of acreage or maximum throughput, you will get those for free, so long as you state your IOPS requirements. Just say “I need 5000 IOPS a second” and let the storage expert find the cheapest, smallest disks they can to provide it. You will have TBs of space.

With solid-state storage you would not need to over-specify storage acreage to get the IOPS, and this is why I said last week that you do not need solid state storage to match the capacity of current disks for this storage to take over. We would be back to the old situation where you buy so many cheap, small units to get the volume, IOPS are almost an accidental by-product. With 1GB discs you were always getting a bulk-buy discount :-)

I said that SSD would boost performance even if you used the technology to replicate the current disk storage. By this I mean that you get a chunk of solid-state disk with a SATA or SAS interface in a 3.5 inch format block and plug it in where a physical disk was plugged in, still sending chunks of 4k or 8k over the network to the Block Buffer Cache. But does Oracle want to stick with the current block paradigm for requesting information and holding data in the block buffer cache? After all, why pass over and hold in memory a block of data when all the user wanted was a specific record? It might be better to hold specific records. I suspect that Oracle will stick with the block-based structure for a while yet as it is so established and key to the kernel, but I would not be at all surprised if something is being developed with exadata in mind where data sets/records are buffered and this could be used for data coming from solid state memory. A second cache where, if using exadata or solid-state memory, holding single records. {I might come back to this in a later blog, this one is already getting bloated}.

This leads on to the physical side of solid-state discs. They currently conform to the 3.5” or 2.5” hard disc form factor but there is no need for them to do so. One friend commented that, with USB memory sticks, you could stick a female port on the back of a memory stick and a joint and you could just daisy-chain the USB sticks into each other, as a long snake. And then decorate your desk with them. Your storage could be looped around the ceiling as bunting. Being serious, though, with solid state storage then you could have racks or rows of chips anywhere in the server box. In something like a laptop the storage could be an array 2mm high across the bottom the chasis. For the server room you could have a 1u “server” and inside it a forest of chips mounted vertically, like row after row of teeth, with a simple fan at front and back to cool the teeth (if needed at all). And, as I said last time, with the solid state being so much smaller and no need to keep to the old hard disk format, you could squeeze a hell of a lot of storage into a standard server box.

If you pulled the storage locally into your server, you would be back to the world of localised storage, but then LANs and WANs are so much faster now that if you had 10TB of storage local to your server, you could probably share it with other machines in the network relatively easily and yet have it available to the local server with as many and as fat a set of internal interfaces as you could get your provider to manage.

I’m going to, at long last, wrap up this current instalment on my thoughts with a business one. I am convinced that soon solid-state storage is going to be so far superior a proposition to traditional disks that demand will explode. And so it won’t get cheaper. I’m wondering if manufacturers will hit a point where they can sell as much as they can easily make and so hold the price higher. After all, what was the argument for Compact Discs to cost twice as much to produce as old cassette tapes, even when they had been available for 5 years? What you can get away with charging for it.

How often is v$sys_time_model updated? July 14, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in internals, performance.
Tags: ,

I think this posting might go down as one of my more pointless contributions to the Oracle knowledge sphere :-)

I was looking at V$SYS_TIME_MODEL and V$SESS_TIME_MODEL and I just happened to run “select * from V$SYS_TIME_MODEL” several times in very quick succession. And I noticed the values for the various counters stayed the same between a couple of the runs.

“Hmmm, interesting” I thought “The values are only flushed down to the view ‘periodically’. I wonder how periodically?”… and thus I wasted a lunch time.

I used the below sql*plus-PL/SQL script to investigate the refreshing of v$sess_time_model. Yes, I know the title says v$sys_time_model but the numbers are smaller and easier to check for the session version of the view and they are virtually the same, I can bet on the results being very similar. This is my script (and it is on on linux):

-- how often is v$sessstat updated
set trims on
set term off
set serveroutput on size unli
spool test_vstm_upd 
  for a in 1..1000  loop
    for vrec in 
      (select rpad(rpad(to_char(a),4)||' '||to_char(systimestamp,'ss.ff')||' '|| stat_name||' ',45)||value rec
      from v$sess_time_model
-- replace with your current session ID
      where sid=1989
      and stat_id in (3649082374,2748282437,2821698184,2643905994)
    end loop;
  end loop;
set term on
spool off

As you can see, it simply loops around selecting four of the values from v$sess_time_model, including the loop counter and current timestamp. Timetamp is evaluated afresh for each executed sql statement.

Here is the output for the first three iterations;

1    53.389576 DB time                       475860419
1    53.389576 DB CPU                        402642660
1    53.389576 sql execute elapsed time      209780319
1    53.389576 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52290858
2    53.408944 DB time                       475860419
2    53.408944 DB CPU                        402642660
2    53.408944 sql execute elapsed time      209780319
2    53.408944 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52290858
3    53.429159 DB time                       475860419
3    53.429159 DB CPU                        402642660
3    53.429159 sql execute elapsed time      209780319
3    53.429159 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52290858

As you can see, the timetamp is increasing by 2/100s of a second or so per loop. Which is not as quick as I hoped but it is a test box. Note that the counters for DB Time, CPU time, SQL execute elapsed time and PL/SQL execution elapsed time are constant.

A few iterations later we see the v$sess_time_model counters increment:

7    53.509351 DB time                       475860419
7    53.509351 DB CPU                        402642660
7    53.509351 sql execute elapsed time      209780319
7    53.509351 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52291610
--all change!	
8    53.531378 DB time                       475871716
8    53.531378 DB CPU                        402653957
8    53.531378 sql execute elapsed time      209786745
8    53.531378 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52292793
-- and stable	
9    53.555889 DB time                       475871716
9    53.555889 DB CPU                        402653957
9    53.555889 sql execute elapsed time      209786745
9    53.555889 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52292793

The counters all increment between iteration 7 and 8 and then stay the same. I can’t tell how long the counters had been the same, I need to wait and see when they change again. How long until they increment again? Well, not very long, in fact just around 0.12 seconds:

14   53.650154 DB time                       475871716
14   53.650154 DB CPU                        402653957
14   53.650154 sql execute elapsed time      209786745
14   53.650154 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52293064
-- change	
15   53.670358 DB time                       475881268
15   53.670358 DB CPU                        402663509
15   53.670358 sql execute elapsed time      209792803
15   53.670358 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52294180
-- still changing	
16   53.689011 DB time                       475887530
16   53.689011 DB CPU                        402669771
16   53.689011 sql execute elapsed time      209794387
16   53.689011 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52294180
-- and still changing	
17   53.710875 DB time                       475889549
17   53.710875 DB CPU                        402671790
17   53.710875 sql execute elapsed time      209796393
17   53.710875 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52295342
-- ...still changing...
18   53.728168 DB time                       475893032
18   53.728168 DB CPU                        402675273
18   53.728168 sql execute elapsed time      209797665
18   53.728168 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52295342
-- and stable	
19   53.744725 DB time                       475893032
19   53.744725 DB CPU                        402675273
19   53.744725 sql execute elapsed time      209797665
19   53.744725 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52295342

This time, the increment occurs over several iterations of the loop before becoming stable again. All four values I am pulling out increment over these iterations.

The next increment comes four iterations or 0.1 seconds later and happens swiftly, between two iterations:

22   53.802486 DB time                       475893032
22   53.802486 DB CPU                        402675273
22   53.802486 sql execute elapsed time      209797665
22   53.802486 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52295342
-- change	
23   53.822231 DB time                       475897963
23   53.822231 DB CPU                        402680204
23   53.822231 sql execute elapsed time      209800369
23   53.822231 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52296904
-- stable	
24   53.840085 DB time                       475905724
24   53.840085 DB CPU                        402687965
24   53.840085 sql execute elapsed time      209803330
24   53.840085 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52296904

So it seem that v$sess_time_model is incremented in steps, not constantly, and does so every 0.10 to 0.13 seconds or so. My work here is done.

Or is it?

No, it is not, as there is now a “massive” gap where the counters do not increment for almost 3/4 of a second, until iteration 127:

126  55.530398 DB time                       475905724
126  55.530398 DB CPU                        402687965
126  55.530398 sql execute elapsed time      209803775
126  55.530398 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52297583
-- change	
127  55.545085 DB time                       475914013
127  55.545085 DB CPU                        402696254
127  55.545085 sql execute elapsed time      209809518
127  55.545085 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52298886
-- still changing	
128  55.560141 DB time                       475921342
128  55.560141 DB CPU                        402703583
128  55.560141 sql execute elapsed time      209812345
128  55.560141 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52299359
-- still changing	
129  55.574806 DB time                       475922705
129  55.574806 DB CPU                        402704946
129  55.574806 sql execute elapsed time      209812345
129  55.574806 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52299359
-- stable	
130  55.589541 DB time                       475922705
130  55.589541 DB CPU                        402704946
130  55.589541 sql execute elapsed time      209812345
130  55.589541 PL/SQL execution elapsed time 52299359 

Again, the incrementing ran over a small number of iterations of my loop.

I think I have shown that all the values increment together so I will reduce my output to just the one counter and see when it increments and over how many iterations and see if a pattern appears:

25   53.860550 DB time                       475905724
-- 53.84 to 55.54 0 1.7 seconds of stability 
126  55.530398 DB time                       475905724
127  55.545085 DB time                       475914013
128  55.560141 DB time                       475921342
129  55.574806 DB time                       475922705
136  55.682402 DB time                       475922705
137  55.697191 DB time                       475956738
138  55.712266 DB time                       475969859
139  55.727820 DB time                       475974350
140  55.743315 DB time                       475982356
141  55.758749 DB time                       475994069
142  55.773602 DB time                       476004596
143  55.788472 DB time                       476004596
144  55.803295 DB time                       476007541
145  55.818136 DB time                       476011172
146  55.832886 DB time                       476020336
147  55.847772 DB time                       476025376
148  55.865303 DB time                       476036347
-- incrementd with a couple of brief pauses over 0.34 seconds
149  55.881480 DB time                       476041481
150  55.896735 DB time                       476041481
200  56.664783 DB time                       476041481
-- 55.88 to 56.67 0.8 seconds of stability
201  56.679455 DB time                       476049162
-- increments over two iterations, 0.03 seconds
202  56.694092 DB time                       476052385
203  56.708733 DB time                       476052385
261  57.566902 DB time                       476052385
-- 56.69 to 57.59 0.9 seconds of stability
262  57.581582 DB time                       476052842
263  57.596218 DB time                       476058537
270  57.700212 DB time                       476058537
271  57.715371 DB time                       476060552
272  57.730797 DB time                       476063551
273  57.745700 DB time                       476074383
274  57.760351 DB time                       476079741
279  57.835162 DB time                       476079741
280  57.849966 DB time                       476080090
281  57.864782 DB time                       476090799
282  57.879446 DB time                       476100404
283  57.894553 DB time                       476103222
-- stable again after 0.3 seconds and a couple of mini-pauses
284  57.910592 DB time                       476103222
335  58.677438 DB time                       476103222
-- 57.91 to 58.69 0.8 seconds of stability
336  58.694704 DB time                       476113168
337  58.709995 DB time                       476113909
338  58.724782 DB time                       476119452
339  58.740756 DB time                       476119795
340  58.758659 DB time                       476129752
341  58.776040 DB time                       476132036
345  58.854895 DB time                       476132036
346  58.869516 DB time                       476138982
347  58.884100 DB time                       476145880
348  58.898772 DB time                       476160301
349  58.913401 DB time                       476178139
350  58.935391 DB time                       476183281
-- stable again after 0.27 seconds
351  58.955195 DB time                       476183281
395  59.608368 DB time                       476183281
-- 57.93 to 59.60 0.68 seconds of stability
396  59.623062 DB time                       476187188
402  59.713566 DB time                       476187188
403  59.728220 DB time                       476194591
404  59.742900 DB time                       476204006
405  59.757544 DB time                       476210666
406  59.774934 DB time                       476216338
407  59.796595 DB time                       476228874
413  59.890172 DB time                       476228874
414  59.908436 DB time                       476238680
415  59.923166 DB time                       476251316
416  59.937805 DB time                       476259466
417  59.952540 DB time                       476261228
418  59.967215 DB time                       476277094
419  59.981914 DB time                       476282108
-- stable again after 0.29 seconds
420  00.000358 DB time                       476298216
529  01.684500 DB time                       476298216
-- 00.00 to 01.69 1.69 seconds of stability
530  01.699165 DB time                       476301888
531  01.714307 DB time                       476312510

I would say that we can draw a few conclusions from the above

  • It is dangerous to look at a little bit of data and draw a firm conclusion, as I nearly did
  • The data in v$sess_time_model is only maintained in near-time not real-time
  • The counters in v$sess_time_model increment together
  • The counters seem to increment in a slightly messy way over part of a second and then are stable for 3/4 of a second to a second or two

I wonder how many of you went “Oh dear” when I said I could derive what is true for v$sys_time_model from v$sess_time_model? Could I? well, here is the modified script for v$sys_time_model:

-- how often is v$sysstat updated
set trims on
set term off
set serveroutput on size unli
spool test_vstm_upd2 
  for a in 1..1000  loop
    for vrec in 
      (select rpad(rpad(to_char(a),4)||' '||to_char(systimestamp,'ss.ff')||' '|| stat_name||' ',45)||value rec
      from v$sys_time_model
      --where sid=1989
      where stat_id in (3649082374)
    end loop;
--    dbms_output.put_line(chr(9));
  end loop;
set term on
spool off

And a sample of my output:

1    43.187666 DB time                       14429733395433
2    43.188523 DB time                       14429733395755
3    43.188642 DB time                       14429733395905
4    43.188733 DB time                       14429733395905
5    43.188822 DB time                       14429733395905
6    43.188909 DB time                       14429733395905
7    43.188995 DB time                       14429733396491
8    43.189080 DB time                       14429733396491
9    43.189164 DB time                       14429733396491
10   43.189258 DB time                       14429733396491
11   43.189345 DB time                       14429733396491
12   43.189430 DB time                       14429733396491
13   43.189515 DB time                       14429733396491
14   43.189600 DB time                       14429733396491
15   43.189687 DB time                       14429733396491
16   43.189774 DB time                       14429733396491
17   43.189858 DB time                       14429733396491
18   43.189942 DB time                       14429733396491
19   43.190026 DB time                       14429733396491
20   43.190111 DB time                       14429733396491
21   43.190200 DB time                       14429733397436
22   43.190287 DB time                       14429733397436
23   43.190371 DB time                       14429733397436
24   43.190454 DB time                       14429733397436
25   43.190540 DB time                       14429733397436
26   43.190624 DB time                       14429733397436
27   43.190708 DB time                       14429733397436
28   43.190793 DB time                       14429733397764
29   43.190877 DB time                       14429733397764
30   43.190961 DB time                       14429733397764
31   43.191045 DB time                       14429733397764
32   43.191132 DB time                       14429733397764
33   43.191221 DB time                       14429733397764
34   43.191309 DB time                       14429733397764
35   43.191392 DB time                       14429733397764
36   43.191475 DB time                       14429733402416
37   43.191558 DB time                       14429733402416
38   43.191641 DB time                       14429733403070
39   43.191725 DB time                       14429733403070
40   43.191809 DB time                       14429733403070
41   43.191893 DB time                       14429733403070
42   43.191976 DB time                       14429733403070
43   43.192060 DB time                       14429733403070
44   43.192144 DB time                       14429733403070
45   43.192230 DB time                       14429733403070
46   43.192315 DB time                       14429733403070
47   43.192400 DB time                       14429733403070
48   43.192484 DB time                       14429733403070
49   43.192569 DB time                       14429733403070
50   43.192654 DB time                       14429733403070
51   43.192737 DB time                       14429733407045
52   43.192821 DB time                       14429733407045
53   43.192904 DB time                       14429733407045
54   43.192985 DB time                       14429733407045
55   43.193069 DB time                       14429733407045
56   43.193152 DB time                       14429733407045
57   43.193237 DB time                       14429733407045
58   43.193321 DB time                       14429733407045
59   43.193404 DB time                       14429733407045
60   43.193488 DB time                       14429733407045
61   43.193574 DB time                       14429733407045
62   43.193660 DB time                       14429733408897
63   43.193743 DB time                       14429733408897
64   43.193828 DB time                       14429733408897
65   43.193912 DB time                       14429733408897
66   43.193994 DB time                       14429733408897
67   43.194076 DB time                       14429733408897
68   43.194160 DB time                       14429733409208
69   43.194283 DB time                       14429733409208
70   43.194378 DB time                       14429733409208
71   43.194465 DB time                       14429733409267
72   43.194551 DB time                       14429733409267
73   43.194635 DB time                       14429733409267
74   43.194719 DB time                       14429733409267
75   43.194801 DB time                       14429733409267
76   43.194884 DB time                       14429733409267
77   43.194967 DB time                       14429733409863
78   43.195052 DB time                       14429733409863
79   43.195136 DB time                       14429733410499
80   43.195245 DB time                       14429733410499
81   43.195329 DB time                       14429733410499
82   43.195412 DB time                       14429733410499
83   43.195495 DB time                       14429733410499
84   43.195577 DB time                       14429733410499
85   43.195660 DB time                       14429733410499
86   43.195743 DB time                       14429733410499
87   43.195825 DB time                       14429733410499
88   43.195909 DB time                       14429733410499
89   43.195991 DB time                       14429733410499
90   43.196074 DB time                       14429733410499
91   43.196156 DB time                       14429733410499
92   43.196244 DB time                       14429733410499
93   43.196326 DB time                       14429733410499
94   43.196409 DB time                       14429733410499
95   43.196493 DB time                       14429733411732
96   43.196577 DB time                       14429733411732
97   43.196661 DB time                       14429733411732
98   43.196745 DB time                       14429733411732
99   43.196826 DB time                       14429733411732
100  43.196910 DB time                       14429733412107
101  43.196992 DB time                       14429733412410
102  43.197076 DB time                       14429733412410
103  43.197158 DB time                       14429733412410
104  43.197245 DB time                       14429733412410
105  43.197327 DB time                       14429733412410
106  43.197410 DB time                       14429733412410
107  43.197493 DB time                       14429733412410
108  43.197575 DB time                       14429733412410
109  43.197658 DB time                       14429733412410
110  43.197741 DB time                       14429733412981
111  43.197824 DB time                       14429733412981
112  43.197907 DB time                       14429733412981
113  43.197990 DB time                       14429733412981
114  43.198072 DB time                       14429733413001
115  43.198156 DB time                       14429733413001
116  43.198247 DB time                       14429733413001
117  43.198330 DB time                       14429733413001
118  43.198414 DB time                       14429733413300
119  43.198499 DB time                       14429733413300
120  43.198581 DB time                       14429733413300
121  43.198665 DB time                       14429733413300
122  43.198748 DB time                       14429733413300
123  43.198830 DB time                       14429733413300
124  43.198913 DB time                       14429733413300
125  43.198997 DB time                       14429733414262
126  43.199081 DB time                       14429733414262
127  43.199165 DB time                       14429733414262
128  43.199252 DB time                       14429733414262
129  43.199336 DB time                       14429733414262
130  43.199419 DB time                       14429733414262
131  43.199503 DB time                       14429733414262
132  43.199586 DB time                       14429733414569
133  43.199669 DB time                       14429733414569
134  43.199752 DB time                       14429733414569
135  43.199834 DB time                       14429733414569
136  43.199918 DB time                       14429733414569
137  43.200000 DB time                       14429733414569
138  43.200083 DB time                       14429733414569
139  43.200166 DB time                       14429733414569
140  43.200252 DB time                       14429733414569
141  43.200334 DB time                       14429733415145
142  43.200418 DB time                       14429733415145
143  43.200504 DB time                       14429733415335
144  43.200588 DB time                       14429733415335
145  43.200672 DB time                       14429733415335
146  43.200756 DB time                       14429733415335
147  43.200838 DB time                       14429733415335
148  43.200921 DB time                       14429733415335
149  43.201003 DB time                       14429733415335
150  43.201086 DB time                       14429733415335
151  43.201169 DB time                       14429733415335
152  43.201259 DB time                       14429733415335

I would say that we can draw a few conclusions from this latest test above!

  • It is dangerous to look at one thing and assume something closely related will be the same!
  • The data in v$sys_time_model is also being updated in bursts
  • The data in v$sys_time_model is actually updated very, very frequently, at around 1/1000 of a second intervals
  • It might be that v$sess_time_model is being updated for sessions in some sort of round-robin fashion and v$sys_time_model each time the v$sess version is updated
  • You can spend a lot of time looking at really quite obscure and possibly pointless stuff
  • The reason I am losing weight is I keep skipping lunch.

Memory Changes Everything July 12, 2010

Posted by mwidlake in Architecture, performance.
Tags: , , ,

I’ve got this USB memory stick which I use to carry around my scripts, documents, presentations, Oracle manuals and enough music to keep me going for a few days. It is on an 8GB Gizzmo Junior and it is tiny. By tiny I mean as wide as my little finger, the length of a matchstick and about the same thickness of said matchstick. So small that I did indeed lose the damn thing for 6 months before I realised it had got trapped behind a credit card in my wallet.

It cost me ten British pounds about 15 months ago (less than most 4GB USB sticks seem to cost now, but then it is nothing more than the memory chip and connectors wrapped in plastic) and it highlights how cheap solid-state “storage” is becoming.

Connected to this, I was looking at buying a new PC this week and this machine comes with 10 USB slots, if you include the ones on the supplied monitor and stubs on the motherboard.
10 USB slots, 8GB gizzmo memory sticks… That would be 80GB of cheap and fast storage. Now get a few USB hubs and bulk-buy a few dozen cheap USB2 sticks and you could soon have a solid-state database of a few hundred GB for a thousand pounds. Then of course you can have fun seeing where the pinch-points in the system are (USB2 has a maximum speed per port and going USB3 right now is going to break that 1 grand barrier. But give it a year…).

This really started me thinking about when memory-based storage would take over from spinning disk as the best option for enterprise-level storage and my gut feeling is in about 5 years. I think it will be both technically possible and financially viable in much less than that, say as little as 2 years, but the cost of solid-state storage per MB will still be higher than disk by then but potentially much faster. A few considerations going through my mind were:-

  • Disk is getting a lot slower in relation to acreage. By this I mean that, for a single disc drive, capacity is doubling about every 18 months but seek time has hardly reduced in a decade and transfer rate (reading from the physical platters to the units buffer) is again almost stationary, at about 120MB/s for 10,000rpm disk and up towards 180 for those very expensive and noisy 15,000 rpm disks. Being a tad ridiculous to make the point, with modern 3TB disks you could build most Oracle database on one disc. Let’s make it two in a raid 10 configuration for redundancy. My point is, your 3TB database could well be being run right now, for real, across say 5 physical disks with a total sustainable physical throughput of around 500MB a second.
  • Solid state storage seems to be halving in price in more like 8-10 months.
  • IO subsystems are made faster by using RAID so that several physical discs can contribute to get towards the 300MB or so speed of the interface – but solid state is already that fast.
  • IO subsystems are made faster by building big caches into them and pre-fetching data that “might” be requested next. Oh, that is kind of solid state storage already.
  • Solid state storage, at least the cheap stuff in your USB stick, has the problem that you can only write to each bit a thousand or so times before it starts to get unreliable. But physical disk has exactly the same issue.
  • There are new methods of solid-state memory storage coming along – “New Scientist” had a nice article on it a few months ago, and these versions will be even higher density and more long-term reliable.
  • Seek time on solid-state memory is virtually zero, so random IO is going to be particularly fast compared to spinning disk.

Solid state memory needs less power, and thus less cooling, is silent, is potentially denser and is less vulnerable to temperature and humidity fluctuations. I can see it not needing to be kept in a specialist server room with the need for all that air con and ear defenders when you go in the room.
Just somewhere with normal air con and a lock on the door should suffice.
We do not need Solid State storage to match the size of current disks or even be as cheap to take over. As I have already pointed out, it is not acreage you need with physical disks but enough spindles and caches to make it fast enough in relation to the space. Further, we can afford to pay more for solid state if we do not need to keep it in such expensive clean-room like environments.

I can see that in a couple of years for a given computer system, say a mixed-workload order processing system, to support the storage needs we will have maybe a dozen solid-state chunks of storage, perhaps themselves consisting of several small units of memory in some sort of raid for resilience, all able to flood the IO channels into our processing server and the issue will be getting the network and io channels into the server to go fast enough. So don’t, stick all the storage directly into the server. You just got rid of half your SAN considerations.

I’m going to stop there. Partly because I have run out of time and partly because, in checking out what I am writing, I’ve just spotted someone did a better job of this before me. Over to James Morle who did a fantastic post on this very topic back in May. Stupid me for not checking out his blog more often. Jame also mentions that often it is not total throughput you are interested in at all but IOPS. That zero latency of solid-state memory is going to be great for supporting very high IOPS.


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