Band Join 12c

Jonathan Lewis's picture

One of the optimizer enhancements that appeared in 12.2 for SQL is the “band join”. that makes certain types of merge join much more  efficient.  Consider the following query (I’ll supply the SQL to create the demonstration at the end of the posting) which joins two tables of 10,000 rows each using a “between” predicate on a column which (just to make it easy to understand the size of the result set)  happens to be unique with sequential values though there’s no index or constraint in place:

        t1.v1, t2.v1
        t1, t2
where between - 1
                  and + 2

This query returns nearly 40,000 rows. Except for the values at the extreme ends of the range each of the 10,000 rows in t2 will join to 4 rows in t1 thanks to the simple sequential nature of the data. In 12.2 the query, with rowsource execution stats enabled, completed in 1.48 seconds. In the query, with rowsource execution stats OFF, took a little over 14 seconds. (With rowsource execution stats enabled it took a little over 1 minute to return the first 5% of the data – I didn’t bother to wait for the rest, though the rate would have improved over time.)

Here are the two execution plans – spot the critical difference:
| Id  | Operation            | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT     |      |    25M|   715M|  1058  (96)| 00:00:01 |
|   1 |  MERGE JOIN          |      |    25M|   715M|  1058  (96)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   SORT JOIN          |      | 10000 |   146K|    29  (11)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL | T1   | 10000 |   146K|    27   (4)| 00:00:01 |
|*  4 |   FILTER             |      |       |       |            |          |
|*  5 |    SORT JOIN         |      | 10000 |   146K|    29  (11)| 00:00:01 |
|   6 |     TABLE ACCESS FULL| T2   | 10000 |   146K|    27   (4)| 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
   4 - filter("T2"."ID"<="T1"."ID"+2)   -- > had to add GT here to stop WordPress spoiling the format 
   5 - access("T2"."ID">="T1"."ID"-1)
| Id  | Operation           | Name | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time     |
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT    |      | 40000 |  1171K|    54  (12)| 00:00:01 |
|   1 |  MERGE JOIN         |      | 40000 |  1171K|    54  (12)| 00:00:01 |
|   2 |   SORT JOIN         |      | 10000 |   146K|    27  (12)| 00:00:01 |
|   3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| T1   | 10000 |   146K|    25   (4)| 00:00:01 |
|*  4 |   SORT JOIN         |      | 10000 |   146K|    27  (12)| 00:00:01 |
|   5 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| T2   | 10000 |   146K|    25   (4)| 00:00:01 |

Predicate Information (identified by operation id):
   4 - access("T2"."ID">="T1"."ID"-1)
       filter("T2"."ID"<="T1"."ID"+2 AND "T2"."ID">="T1"."ID"-1)

Notice how operation 4, the FILTER, that appeared in 12.1 has disappeared in 12.2 and the filter predicate that it used to hold is now part of the filter predicate of the SORT JOIN that has been promoted to operation 4 in the new plan.

As a reminder – the MERGE JOIN operates as follows: for each row returned by the SORT JOIN at operation 2 it calls operation 4. In 12.1 this example will then call operation 5 so the SORT JOIN there happens 10,000 times. It’s important to know, though, that the name of the operation is misleading; what’s really happening is that Oracle is “probing a sorted result set in local memory” 10,000 times – it’s only on the first probe that it finds it has to call operation 6 to read and move the data into local memory in sorted order.

So in 12.1 operation 5 probes (accesses) the in-memory data set starting at the point where >= – 1; I believe there’s an optimisation here because Oracle will recall where it started the probe last time and resume searching from that point; having found the first point in the in-memory set where the access predicate it true Oracle will walk through the list passing each row back to the FILTER operation as long as the access predicate is still true, and it will be true right up until the end of the list. As each row arrives at the FILTER operation Oracle checks to see if the filter predicate there is true and passes the row up to the MERGE JOIN operation if it is. We know that on each cycle the FILTER operation will start returning false after receiving 4 rows from SORT JOIN operation – Oracle doesn’t.  On average the SORT JOIN operation will send 5,000 rows to the FILTER operation (for a total of 50,000,000 values passed and discarded).

In 12.2, and for the special case here where the join predicate uses constants to define the range, Oracle has re-engineered the code to eliminate the FILTER operation and to test both parts of the between clause in the same subroutine it uses to probe and scan the rowsource. In 12.2 the SORT JOIN operation will pass 4 rows up to the MERGE JOIN operation and stop scanning on the fifth row it reaches. In my examples that’s an enormous (CPU) saving in subroutine calls and redundant tests.


This “band-join” mechanism only applies when the range is defined by constants (whether literal or bind variable). It doesn’t work with predicates like (e.g.):

where between - t1.step_back and + t1.step_forward

The astonishing difference in performance due to enabling rowsource execution statistics is basically due to the number of subroutine calls eliminated – I believe (subject to a hidden parameter that controls a “sampling frequency”) that Oracle will call the O/S clock twice each time it calls the second SORT JOIN operation from the FILTER operation to acquire the next row. In 12.1 we’re doing roughly 50M redundant calls to that SORT JOIN.

The dramatic difference in performance even when rowsource execution statistics isn’t enabled is probably something you won’t see very often in a production system – after all, I engineered a fairly extreme data set and query for the purposes of demonstration. Note, however, the band join does seemt to introduce a change in cost, so it’s possible that on the upgrade you may find a few cases where the optimizer will switch from a nested loop join to a merge join using a band-join.

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