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Index Compression – aargh

The problem with telling people that some feature of Oracle is a “good thing” is that some of those people will go ahead and use it; and if enough people use it some of them will discover a hitherto undiscovered defect. Almost inevitably the bug will turn out to be one of those “combinations” bugs that leaves you thinking: “Why the {insert preferred expression of disbelief here} should {feature X} have anything to do with {feature Y}”.

Here – based on index compression, as you may have guessed from the title – is one such bug. I got it first on, but it’s still there on and

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Row Migration

At one of the presentations I attended at RMOUG this year the presenter claimed that if a row kept increasing in size and had to migrate from block to block as a consequence then each migration of that row would leave a pointer in the previous block so that an indexed access to the row would start at the original table block and have to follow an ever growing chain of pointers to reach the data.

This is not correct, and it’s worth making a little fuss about the error since it’s the sort of thing that can easily become an urban legend that results in people rebuilding tables “for performance” when they don’t need to.

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IOT Catalogue

I’ve just added a catalogue of Richard Foote’s articles on IOTs to the list I made a couple of years ago of Martin Widlake’s articles, so this is just a temporary note to point people to the updated list.

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It doesn’t matter which bit of Oracle technology you want to use, eventually someone, somewhere, runs into the special case where something nasty happens. Here’s an edge case for people using (index) clusters – Oracle Bug  17866999 ora-1499 for cluster following rman convert

It comes from a conversation on Oracle-L where Jack van Zanen reported a problem of inconsistent results after migrating data between platforms using rman to converts some tablespaces containing index clusters. This is the starting post where he shows a query that is clearly getting the wrong answer (select where channel_number = 503 obviously shouldn’t return data with channel_number 501).

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Single block reads

When a “cache read” tablescan (or index fast full scan) takes place we generally expect to see waits on “db file scattered read” as Oracle performs multi-block reads to do the scan. But we all know that Oracle will skip over blocks that are already in the cache and can therefore end up doing multi-block reads of many different sizes, even down to the point where it does single block reads (waiting for “db file sequential read”).

A quirky little question came up on OTN a little while ago: “for a large table we expect multiblock reads to be positioned at the end of the LRU for prompt re-use; but when Oracle does a single block read as part of a tablescan does it go to the end of the LRU (because it’s part of a large tablescan) or does it go to the mid-point of the LRU (because it’s a single block read)?”

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I see Tanel has just started a short series of articles on where the X$ data come from so, for those with time on their hands (?anyone?) here’s a little script I wrote a few years ago when I wanted to check which v$ objects corresponded to the same internal structure in the SGA: (as v$session and v$session_wait used to)

It starts with a function that has to be created in the SYS schema – so no doing this on production systems. The it’s a pipelined function so that we can treat its output like a table, which means I need to create an object type and a table type before creating the function.  In the function I select each x$ name from the list of x$ names (x$kqfta) and for each table I construct a dynamic SQL statement selecting the first row from the table.

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CR Trivia

Everybody “knows” that when you do a tablescan of a table that it starts with two buffer gets on the segment header, though older versions (ca. 8i and earlier) of Oracle used to do 4 buffer gets on the segment header. The upshot of this is that many people still say that if you create a table and insert a single row then you’re going to get 3 buffer gets when you tablescan a table: two for the segment header and one for the data block:

So here’s a test, with the second set of autotrace stats which, for reasons I’ll describe shortly, may not be immediately reproducible on your system:

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LOB changes

It’s always useful to collect baseline information – especially when it helps you notice that the baseline has moved in a way that might explain the next performance problem you see. Here’s an example demonstrating the benefit.

I have a table with a LOB column that is stored out of line. Many years ago I decided that I wanted to compare how the redo generation varied as I change the LOB from cached to nocache (with nologging). So here was one of my simplest test scripts (stripped to a minimum):

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dbms_space usage

Just throwing out a brief comment (one of my many draft notes that I don’t have time to complete) about the dbms_space package. You’re probably familiar with this package and how, for ASSM segments, it can give you a measure of the available space in the blocks in a data segment, reporting 6 possible states of the blocks below the high high water mark (HHWM) e.g.:

Unformatted                   :       12
Freespace 1 (  0 -  25% free) :        0
Freespace 2 ( 25 -  50% free) :       14
Freespace 3 ( 50 -  75% free) :        0
Freespace 4 ( 75 - 100% free) :        0
Full                          :       34

The above is the output from a little procedure I wrote to wrap around a call to the procedure dbms_space.space_usage().

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Bitmap Question

This question came up on the OTN database forum a couple of months ago: “Why doesn’t Oracle allow you to create globally partitioned bitmap indexes?” The obvius answer is “It just doesn’t, okay.” But it can be quite interesting to think of reasons why a particular mechanism might not have been implemented – sometimes the answers can give you an insight into how a feature has been implemented, it might suggest cases where a feature might not work very well, it might give you some ideas on how to work around a particular limitation, and sometimes it just an entertaining puzzle to while away a short flight.

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