Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oracle Database Tuning

Oracle Database Tuning
(and Other Performance Issues)


  • Identify how poor system performance results from a poor database system design.
  • Familiarize with how database tuning focuses on identifying and fixing underlying flaws.
  • Familiarize with typical objects that can be tuned.


Effective Table Design

  • Poor table design always leads to poor performance.
  • Rigid adherence to fully normalized relational table guidelines can also result in poor physical performance.  These inefficiencies result from:
    • requiring too many joins.
    • failure to reflect the normal access paths for data.
  • Queries with large numbers of columns that come from multiple tables can cause performance to suffer because several tables must be joined.
  • Design options include:
    • Denormalizing 1NF, 2NF and 3NF solutions.
    • Creating small summary tables from large, static tables that stores data in the format in which users ask for the data - this avoids joins where data are often requested and the data doesn't change very often.
    • Separating individual tables into several tables by either vertical partitioning and/or horizontal partitioning.

Distribution of CPU Requirements

  • An Oracle database that is CPU-Bound (limited by CPU resources) as opposed to Wait-Bound (waiting on disk writes of some type) is one that's effectively designed.  This means that other resources are not limiting the database.
  • Schedule long-running batch query/update programs for off-peak hours; then run them at normal priority.
  • Store data in its most appropriate place in a distributed computing environment - this distributes computing CPU requirements from one server to another.
  • Use the Parallel Query option to distribute processing requirements of selected SQL statements among multiple CPUs if they are available.

Effective Application Design

  • There are two principles to follow here: 
1.           limit the number of times that users access the database, and
2.           coordinate the requests of users for data.  This requires you to know how users tend to access data.
  • Try to use the same queries to handle similar application data requirements; this will increase the likelihood that a data requirement can be resolved by data already in the SGA.
  • Use snapshots, which are non-updatable views of part of a database that can be distributed to support typical managerial querying.
  • Create stored procedures, functions, and packages and compile them to eliminate run-time compilation. The parsed version may exist in theShared SQL Pool.
1.           The SQL Text for all procedures, functions, and packages can be viewed in the TEXT column of the DBA_SOURCE view.
2.           These objects (procedural code) are stored in the SYSTEM tablespace so you need to allocate more space to it -- usually double its size.


  • Most SQL tuning requires the DBA to work with an application developer.
  • Most improvement in database processing will come from tuning SQL.
  • The key to SQL tuning is to minimize the search path that a database uses to find data.  For the most part this requires the creation of appropriate indexes that the database engine will use to find data.


  • An Index enables Oracle to locate a row according to its physical location in a datafile by going to the correct file, finding the correct block, thenfinding the correct row within the block.  Taken together, these values are like relative record numbers in a relative file.
  • The File ID portion of ROWID can be compared to the FILE_ID column of the DBA_DATA_FILES view to determine the file to which an index belongs.
  • A query with no WHERE clause normally results in a full table scan, reading every block in a table.
  • A query for specific rows may cause use of an index.
    • The index maps logical values in a table (key columns) to their ROWIDs which enables location of the rows directly by their physical location.
  • You may index several columns together to form a concatenated index.
    • A concatenated index is only used if its leading column is used in the query's WHERE clause.
    • Consider the following example:
CREATE INDEX City_state_zip_ndx
ON Employee (City, State, Zip)
FROM Employee
WHERE State = 'NJ';
  • The index is NOT used because the WHERE clause value of State does not match the leading column (City) of the index.
  • This example would only add overhead because the index would be maintained, even if it's not used.
  • The index should be recreated with proper ordering of the component fields in the index if the query is executed often.

Ordering Data

  • While row ordering does not matter in relational theory, it is important to order rows as much as possible when tables are initially created, e.g. when you are porting a system into Oracle from another platform or DBMS.
  • Ordered rows may enable Oracle to find needed rows while minimizing the data blocks that are retrieved where users execute queries that specify ranges of values (recall the BETWEEN operator in SQL for range of value queries).
  • Consider the following example which will require fewer data blocks to be read if the records are physically ordered on the Empno field.
FROM Employee
WHERE Empno BETWEEN 1 and 100;

·        You can physically sort table rows by SELECTing them to another file with use of the ORDER BY clause, then truncating the original table and loading the rows back into the original table. 


  • We covered indexed clusters in an earlier module. 
  • Another type of cluster, the hash cluster, stores rows in a specific location based on its value in the cluster key column.
    • Every time a row is inserted, its cluster key value is used to determine which block to store the row in.
    • This enables hashing directly to data blocks without use of an index.
    • The hash cluster is only used with equivalence queries - where the exact value stored in a column is to be found.

Explain Plan

  • The EXPLAIN PLAN command shows the execution path for a query and stores this information to a table (PLAN_TABLE) in the database.  You can then query the table.  Example:

SET Statement_id = 'TEST'
FROM Employee
WHERE city > 'Y%';

  • The query above is not actually executed; rather the plan for execution is stored to the PLAN_TABLE.
  • Your account must have a PLAN_TABLE in your schema.  The script to create this table is UTLXPLAN.SQL and is located in the$ORACLE_HOME/rdbms/admin subdirectory.
  • Query the table to produce the output that shows the execution path.

SELECT LPAD(' ',2*LEVEL) || operation
       || ' ' || options ||
       ' ' || object_name Path_Plan
FROM Plan_Table
WHERE Statement_id = 'TEST'
    AND Statement_id = 'TEST'
    START WITH Id=1;
Path_Plan ----------------------------------- TABLE ACCESS BY ROWID EMPLOYEE   INDEX RANGE SCAN CITY_ST_ZIP_NDX

  • The output shows that data will be accessed by ROWID through an index range scan of the named index.
  • Alternatively, you can also use the SET AUTOTRACE ON command in SQL*Plus to generate the explain plan output and trace information for every query that you run.
  • Evaluate the output by ensuring that the most selective (most nearly unique) indexes are used by a query.


You can use the Oracle Enterprise Manager software to analyze usage of memory by Oracle’s various memory caches.
  • The dictionary cache in memory is not directly sized or tuned as it is part of the Shared SQL Pool.
  • These memory areas are managed by the LRU (least recently used) algorithm.  You set the Shared SQL Pool size with theSHARED_POOL_SIZE parameter. 
  • If your Shared SQL Pool is too large, then you are wasting memory. 
  • The Hit Ratio measures how well the data buffer cache handles requests.

Hit Ratio = (Logical Reads - Physical Reads) /
                    Logical Reads

  • perfect ratio is 1.00 - all reads are logical reads; of course, this is generally impossible to obtain since it indicates that all the data that a system user will ever need to access is stored in the SGA.
  • On-line transaction processing applications should have Hit Ratios in excess of 0.90.
  • If processing for the Hit Ratio is within tolerance, you need to check to see if you can reduce the size of the Shared SQL Pool and still maintain a good Hit Ratio.
  • Add the following to the INIT.ORA file.


  • Shutdown the database and restart it.
  • The system dictionary table SYS.X$KCBCBH maintains memory statistics.  One row is maintained for each buffer in the buffer cache.  You can query this information to determine how many buffers are not being used.
  • Use the following query to determine how many cache hits (the COUNT column) would be lost if you reduced the number of buffers (the INDXcolumn).

SELECT Sum(Count) Lost_Hits
FROM Sys.X$Kcbcbh
WHERE indx >= New_Number_Of_Buffers;
(NOTE: You supply the value in the WHERE clause)

  • If you have lost hits, the system will require additional physical reads - the Hit Ratio for this new number of data buffers is:

Hit Ratio =
  (Logical Reads - Physical Reads - Lost Hits)
              / Logical Reads

  • Since running the database in a statistics gathering mode will slow it down due to the additional overhead, you should comment out theDB_BLOCK_LRU_STATISTICS parameter after you have finished tuning and restart the database.


Defragmentation of Segments

Fragmented tables with multiple extents will slow down query processing.  This can also slow down the storage of new records because the database may have to dynamically combine free extents to create a new extent large enough to meet the storage parameters of the object where data are being stored.
  • We know that a segment is created to hold data associated with a new object (index or table) when an object is created.
  • The space allocated is used unless the segment is released (dropped) or truncated (tables only).
  • It would be best if each segment was composed of a single large INITIAL extent - compute the size for the initial extent such that it is large enough to handle all of a segment's data.
  • Use the DBA_SEGMENTS data dictionary view to determine which segments are comprised of ten or more extents.

SELECT Tablespace_name TSName, Owner,
    Segment_Name SNName,
    Segment_type SNType, Extents,
    Blocks, Bytes
FROM Sys.DBA_Segments;
  • To see the size of the individual extents for a segment, query the DBA_EXTENTS view.  Supply the type of segment you desire (TABLE, INDEX, CLUSTER, ROLLBACK, TEMPORARY, etc.).

SELECT Tablespace_name TSNAME, Owner,
    Segment_Name SNNAME,
    Segment_Type SNTYPE, Extent_id EID,
    File_id FID, Block_id BID, Bytes, Blocks
FROM Sys.DBA_Extents
WHERE Segment_type = 'segment_name'
ORDER BY Extent_id;
DATA   DBOCK SYS_C00890 INDEX  0   4   137 61440 15 DATA   DBOCK SYS_C00891 INDEX  0   4   152 61440 15
  • If a segment is fragmented, you can rebuild the object into a single segment by using the proper size for the storage parameters.  Export the data for the segment, recreate the object, then import the data into the INITIAL extent.

Defragmentation of Free Extents

Free Extent is a collection of contiguous free blocks in a tablespace that are unused.
  • If a segment is dropped, its extents are deallocated and become free, but these extents are not recombined with neighboring free extents.
  • SMON periodically coalesces neighboring free extents only if the default PCTINCREASE for a tablespace is non-zero.
  • The ALTER TABLESPACE tablespace_name COALESCE command can be used to force the combining of free extents.
  • Your readings will list a number of scripts available in Oracle to test whether or not free space needs to be coalesced.

Identifying chained Rows

  • Chained rows occur when a row is updated and will no longer fit into a single data block.
  • If you store rows that are larger than the Oracle block size, then you will cause chaining.
  • Chaining affects performance because of the need for Oracle to search multiple blocks for a logical row.
  • The ANALYZE command can be used to determine if chaining is occurring.


  • The output is stored to the CHAINED_ROWS table in your schema.  The CHAINED_ROWS table needs to first be created by executing theUTLCHAIN.SQL script in the $ORACLE_HOME/rdbms/admin directory.
  • If chaining is prevalent (all chained rows are listed), then rebuild the table with a higher PCTFREE parameter.

Increasing the Oracle Block Size

  • Oracle support different block sizes, but the most common block sizes used are 4K and 8K.
  • Installation routines default to different block size values.  For example, with our version of Oracle in a LINUX environment the system defaults to 8K if you do not specify the block size when you create the database.
o   Using the next higher block size value may improve performance of query-intensive operations by up to 50 percent.
o   Problem:  You must rebuild the entire database to increase the block size.
o   Improvement comes because the block header does not increase significantly leaving more space in a block for transaction information and for data rows.

Bulk Deletes: The TRUNCATE Command

  • Deleting all the rows in a table will not save any space because the segment for the table is still allocated all of the extents beyond those the first one that was allocated by the INITIAL parameter.
  • Deleting all rows can also result in UNDO errors because the bulk delete causes a very large transaction – can lead to overwrites and theSnapshot Too Old error message..
  • The TRUNCATE command resolves both problems, but you need to realize that this is a DDL command, not a DML command, so it cannot berolled back.
  • The TRUNCATE command is the fastest way to delete large volumes of data.


  • The above command deletes all Employee table rows and the DROP STORAGE clause de-allocates the non-INITIAL extents.  The second example command is for clusters.

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