Oracle database internals by Riyaj

Discussions about Oracle performance tuning, RAC, Oracle internal & E-business suite.

Archive for July, 2008

Tuning latch contention: Cache buffers chain latches

Posted by Riyaj Shamsudeen on July 30, 2008

Recently, I had an opportunity to tune latch contention for cache buffers chain (CBC) latches. Problem statement is that high CPU usage combined with poor application performance. Quick review of statspack report of 15 minutes showed a latch free wait as top event and consuming 3600 seconds approximately, in a 8 CPU server. Further CPU usage was quite high, which is a typical symptom of latch contention, due to spinning involved. v$session_wait showed that hundreds of sessions were waiting for latch free event.

SQL> @waits10g

   SID PID     EVENT         P1_P2_P3_TEXT
------ ------- ------------  --------------------------------------
   294  17189  latch free    address 15873156640-number 127-tries 0
   628  17187  latch free    address 15873156640-number 127-tries 0
   343  17191  latch free    address 15873156640-number 127-tries 0
   599  17199  latch: cache  address 17748373096-number 122-tries 0
               buffers chains
   337  17214  latch: cache  address 17748373096-number 122-tries 0
               buffers chains
   695  17228  latch: cache  address 17748373096-number 122-tries 0
               buffers chains
   276  15153  latch: cache  address 19878655176-number 122-tries 1
               buffers chains

We will use two pronged approach to find root cause scientifically. First, we will find SQL suffering from latch contention and objects associated with access plan for that SQL. Next, we will find buffers involved in latch contention, map that back to objects. Finally, we will match these two techniques to pinpoint root cause.

Before we go any further, let’s do a quick summary of internals of latch operations.

Brief Introduction to CBC latches and not-so-brief reason why this is a complicated topic to discuss briefly

Latches are internal memory structures to coordinate access to shared resources. Locks aka enqueues are different from latches. Key difference is that enqueues, as name suggests, provides a FIFO queueing mechanisms and latches do not provide a queueing mechanism. On the other hand, latches are held very briefly and locks are usually held longer.

In Oracle SGA, buffer cache is the memory area data blocks are read in to, aka buffer cache. [If ASMM – Automatic Shared Memory Management is in use, then part of Shared pool can be tagged as KGH:NO ALLOC and remapped to buffer cache area too].

Each buffer in the buffer cache has an associated element the buffer header array, externalized as x$bh. Buffer headers keeps track of various attributes and state of buffers in the buffer cache. This Buffer header array is allocated in shared pool. These buffer headers are chained together in a doubly linked list and linked to a hash bucket. There are many hash buckets (# of buckets are derived and governed by _db_block_hash_buckets parameter). Access (both inspect and change) to these hash chains are protected by cache buffers chains latches.

Further, buffer headers can be linked and delinked from hash buckets dynamically.

Simple algorithm to access a buffer is: (I had to deliberately cut out so as not to deviate too much from our primary discussion.)

  1. Hash data block address (DBA: Combination of tablespace, file_id and block_id) to find hash bucket.
  2. Get latch protecting hash bucket.
  3. If (success) then Walk the hash chain reading buffer headers to see if a specific version of the block is already in the chain.
  4. If found, access the buffer in buffer cache, with protection of buffer pin/unpin actions.
    If not found, then find a free buffer in buffer cache, unlink the buffer header for that buffer from its current chain, link that buffer header with this hash chain, release the latch and read block in to that free buffer in buffer cache with buffer header pinned.

  5. If (not success) spin for spin_count times and go to step 2.
  6. If this latch was not got with spinning, then sleep, with increasing exponential back-off sleep time and go to step 2.

Obviously, latches are playing crucial role controlling access to critical resources such as hash chain. My point is that repeated access to few buffers can increase latch activity.

There are many CBC latch children (derived by size of buffer cache). Parameter _db_block_hash_latches control # of latches and derived based upon buffer cache size. Further, In Oracle 10g, sharable latches are used and inspecting an hash chain needs to acquire latches in share mode, which is compatible with other shared mode operations. Note that these undocumented parameters are usually sufficient and changes to these parameters must get approval from Oracle support.

Back to our problem…

Let’s revisit our problem at hand. Wait graph printed above shows that this latch contention is caused by two types of latches. Latch # 127 is simulator lru latch and #122 is cache buffers chains latch.
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Posted in CBO, Oracle database internals, Performance tuning | Tagged: , , , , | 18 Comments »

Tuning ‘log file sync’ wait events

Posted by Riyaj Shamsudeen on July 7, 2008

In this blog entry, we will discuss strategies and techniques to resolve ‘log file sync’ waits. This entry is intended to show an approach based upon scientific principes, not necessarily a step by step guide. Let’s understand how LGWR is inherent in implementing commit mechanism first.

Commit mechanism and LGWR internals

At commit time, process creates a redo record [ containing commit opcodes] and copies that redo record in to log buffer. Then that process signlas LGWR to write contents of log buffer. LGWR writes from log buffer to log file and signals user process back completing a commit. Commit is considered successful after LGWR write is successful.

Of course, there are minor deviation from this general concept such as latching, commits from plsql block or IMU based commit generation etc. But general philosophy still remains the same.

Signals, semaphore and LGWR

Following section introduces internal workings of commit and LGWR interation in unix platform. There are minor implementation
differences between few unix flavors or platform like NT/XP such as use of post wait drivers instead of semaphores etc. This section is to introduce internals, not necessarily dive deep in to internals. Truss is used to trace LGWR and user process to explain here.

truss command used: truss -rall -wall -fall -vall -d -o /tmp/truss.log -p 22459

[ Word of caution, don’t truss LGWR or any background process unless it is absolutely necessary. You can
accidentally cause performance issues, worse yet, shutdown database.]

1. Intiailly, LGWR is sleeping on semaphore using semtimedop or semop call.

22459/1: semtimedop(9, 0xFFFFFD7FFFDFE648, 1, 0xFFFFFD7FFFDFE488) EAGAIN
22459/1:         semnum=15    semop=-1    semflg=0
22459/1:         timeout: 2.060000000 sec
    In the above call,
     9 is semaphore set id visible through ipcs command and semnum=15 is the semaphore for LGWR process in that set.
     next argument is a structure sembuf
	{ unsigned short sem_num;  /* semaphore number */
	  short          sem_op;   /* semaphore operation */
	  short          sem_flg;  /* operation flags */
	third argument is # of semaphores

2. When a session commits, a redo record created and copied in to log buffer. Then that process posts LGWR semaphore
using a semctl call, if LGWR is not active already. Then, process goes to sleep with semtimedop call, in its own semaphore.
Semaphore set id is 9, but semnum is 118 which is for the user process I was tracing.

First semctl calls is posting LGWR. Then process is sleeping on semtimedop call.

27396/1: semctl(9, 15, SETVAL, 1)        = 0
27396/1:semtimedop(9, 0xFFFFFD7FFFDFC128, 1, 0xFFFFFD7FFFDFBF68)=0
27396/1:        semnum=118   semop=-1    semflg=0
27396/1:        timeout: 1.000000000 sec

3. Waiting log writer gets a 0 return code from semtimedop and writes redo records to current redo log file. kaio calls are kernalized asynchronous I/O calls in Solaris platform.

22459/7: pwrite(262, "01 "9E0E i ?".., 1024, 1915904) = 1024
22459/9: pwrite(263, "01 "9E0E i ?".., 1024, 1915904) = 1024
22459/1: kaio(AIOWAIT, 0xFFFFFD7FFFDFE310)               = 1
22459/1:         timeout: 600.000000 sec
22459/9: kaio(AIONOTIFY, 0)                         = 0
22459/7: kaio(AIONOTIFY, 0)                         = 0

4. After successful completion of write(s), LGWR Posts semaphore of waiting process using semctl command.

22459/1: semctl(9, 118, SETVAL, 1)                   = 0

5. User process/Session continues after recieving a return code from semtimedop call, reprinted below.


So, what exactly is ‘log file sync’ wait ?

Commit is not complete until LGWR writes log buffers including commit redo recods to log files. In a nutshell, after posting LGWR to write, user or background processes waits for LGWR to signal back with 1 sec timeout. User process charges this wait time as ‘log file sync’ event.

In the prior section, ‘log file sync’ waits starts at step 2 after semctl call and completes after step 5 above.

Root causes of ‘log file sync’ waits

Root causes of ‘log file sync’, essentially boils down to few scenarios and following is not an exhaustive list, by any means!

1. LGWR is unable to complete writes fast enough for one of the following reasons:
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Posted in Performance tuning | Tagged: , , , | 62 Comments »