Monday Oct 19, 2009

Exadata V2... Oracle grid consolidation in a box

I spent some time last week at OOW talking with Oracle customers regarding the technology in the Exadata V2 database machine. There were certainly a lot of customers excited to use this for their data warehouses - 21GB/sec disk throughput, 50GB/sec flash cache, and Hybrid Columnar Compression really accelerate this machine past the competition. The viability of Exadata V2 for DW/BI was really a given, but what impressed me the most was the number of customers looking to consolidate applications in this environment.

Ever since I was first brought onto this project, I thought Exadata V2 would be an excellent platform for consolidation. In my experience working on the largest of Sun's servers, I have seen customers with dozens of instances on a single machine. Using M9000 series machines, you can create domains in order to support multiple environments - this very much mirrors what Exadata V2 can provide. Exadata V2 allows DBAs to deploy multiple instances across a grid of RAC nodes available in the DB machine – and since you are using RAC, availability is a given. Also, the addition of Flash allows for up to 1 million IOPs to support your ERP/OLTP environments. Consider the picture below.

With this environment, your production data warehouse can share the same infrastructure as the ERP, test, and development environments. This model allows the flexibility to add/subtract nodes from a particular database as needed. But, the operational efficiency is not the biggest benefit to consolidation. The savings in terms of power, space, and cooling are substantial.

Consider for a moment the number of drives necessary to match the 1 million IOPs available in the database machine. Assuming you are using the best 15,000 rpm drive, you would be able to do 250 IOPs/drive. So, to get to 1 million IOPs, you would need 4,000 drives! A highly dense 42U storage rack can house any where from 300-400 drives. So, you would need 10 racks, just for the storage and at least one rack for servers.

With Exadata V2, you get more than 10:1 savings in floor space and all the power an cooling benefits as well. It is no wonder people are excited about Exadata V2 as a platform to consolidate compute and storage resources.

Thursday Sep 17, 2009

Breaking the silence... Exadata V2 performance details at OOW.

UPDATE: Unfortunately our OOW session was canceled. I will still be at the show participating in various performance related activities.

Now that Exadata V2 has been announced, I can begin to talk about what I have been working on lately. Kevin Closson and I have been working to characterize the performance of the Exadata V2 product. The performance of this machine is just stunning. This is the fastest machine I have ever used and I have been benchmarking big iron SMP with Oracle for the better part of 20 years now.

Exadata V2 brings together the best of Brawny Hardware and Brainy Software. The storage cells utilize Sun's new FlashFire technology along with the latest Nehalem based servers. Software advances with Storage Indexes and Hybrid Columnar compression push the performance to amazing speeds. If you are at Oracle Open World, please stop by our session to learn more about the performance of this exciting new product. I will post the session details once they are available.

Monday Sep 14, 2009

Sun Oracle Database machine arrives!

Let the games begin...

I will post some informational links as they are available. Pretty exciting stuff!

Tuesday Dec 09, 2008

Oracle analysis 101 : Begining analysis techniques

Recently, I was asked to present beginning Oracle analysis techniques to an internal audience of Sun engineers. This presentation was a lot of fun to put together and was well received. After cleaning it up a bit and taking out the boring internal Sun stuff, I thought the presentation might be useful to a larger audience. This presentation focuses on problem statement, environmental, and basic AWR/Statspack analysis.

If you find this useful or have suggestions, drop me a note.

Saturday Nov 08, 2008

Virtual CPUs effect on Oracle SGA allocations.

Several years ago, I wrote about how Oracle views multi-threaded processors. At the time we were just introducing a dual-core processor. This doubling of the number of cores was presented by Solaris as virtual CPUs and Oracle would automatically size the CPU_COUNT accordingly. But what happens when you introduce a 1RU server that has 128 virtual CPUs?

The UltraSPARC T1/T2/T2+ servers have many threads or virtual CPUs. The CPU_COUNT on these systems is sized no different than before. So, the newly introduced T5540 with 4xUltraSPARC T2+ processors would have 256 threads and CPU_COUNT would be set to 256.

So, what does CPU_COUNT have to do with memory?

Thanks to my friends in the Oracle Real World Performance group, I was made aware that Oracle uses CPU_COUNT to size the minimum amount of SGA allowed. In one particular case, the DBA was trying to allocate 70 database instances on a T5140 with 64GB of memory and 128 virtual CPUs. Needless to say, the SGA_TARGET would have to be set fairly low in-order to accomplish this task. A SGA_TARGET was set to 256MB, but the following error was encountered.

    ORA-00821: Specified value of sga_target 256M is too small
After experimentation, they were able to start Oracle with a target of 900MB, but with 70 instances this would not fly. Manually lowering the CPU_COUNT allowed the DBA to use an SGA_TARGET of 256MB. Obviously, this is an extreme case and changing CPU_COUNT was reasonable.

Core and virtual CPU counts have been on the rise for some years now. Combine rising virtual CPU count with the current economic climate and I would suspect that consolidation will be more popular than ever. In general, I would not advocate changing CPU_COUNT manually. If you had one instance on this box, the default be just fine. CPU_COUNT automatically sizes so many other parameters that you should be very careful before making a change.

Monday Sep 22, 2008

Oracle Open World 2008 - Growing Green Databases with UltraSPARC CMT

The time has come present at Oracle Open World on UltraSPARC CMT performance. I decided to post the final version here in addition to the OOW site. I hope to see you there!
Session ID: S299785
     Title: Growing Green databases with Oracle on the UltraSPARC CMT processor
      Date: Monday Sept 22nd
      Time: 13:00 - 14:00
     Place: Moscone South Rm 236

Monday May 12, 2008

Optimizing Oracle Schema Analyze with CMT based servers

A common observation regarding Niagara based servers is that system maintenance or database administration tasks can run slower than previous generations of Sun servers. While single-threaded performance may be less, these maintenance tasks are often able to be parallelized, especially using a database engine as mature as Oracle. Take for instance the task of gathering schema statistics. Oracle offers many options on how to gather schema statistics, but there are a few ways to reduce overall gather statistics time:
  • Increased Parallelism
  • Reduced Sample Size
  • Concurrency
Oracle has written many articles in metalink which discuss sample size and the various virtues. There have also been many volumes written on optimizing the Oracle cost based optimizer (CBO). Jonathan Lewis of who is a member of the famous Oaktable network has written books and multiple white papers on the topic. You can read these for insight into the Oracle CBO. While a reasonable sample size or the use of the "DBMS_STATS.AUTO_SAMPLE_SIZE" can seriously reduce the gather statistics times, I will leave that up to you to choose the sample size the produces the best plans.


The following graph shows the total run time in seconds of a "GATHER_SCHEMA_STATS" operations at various levels of parallelism and sample size on a simple schema of 130GB. All tests were run on a Maramba T5240 with a 6140 array and two channels.

GATHER_SCHEMA_STATS parallelism and sample_size

Note that if higher levels of sampling are required, parallelism can help to significantly reduce the overall runtime of the GATHER_SCHEMA_STATS operation. Of course a smaller sample size can be employed as well.


SQL> connect / as sysdba

-- Example with 10 percent with parallel degree 32

-- Example with AUTO_SAMPLE_SIZE and parallel degree 32

Note that you must have "parallel_max_servers" set to at least the level of parallelism desired for the GATHER_SCHEMA_STATS operation. I typically set it higher to allow for other parallel operations to get servers.

        SQL> alter system set parallel_max_servers = 128;

Finally, you can easily run a schema collect on multiple schema's concurrently and in parallel by issuing GATHER_SCHEMA_STATS from multiple sessions and ensuring the level of parallelism is set high enough to accommodate.


  • T5240 - "Maramba" CMT based server
    • 2 x UltraSPARC T2 Plus @ 1.4GHz
    • 128GB memory
    • 2 x 1GB fiber channel HBA
    • 1 x 6140 Storage array with 1 lun per channel.
  • Software
    • Solaris 10 Update 5
    • Oracle
    • CoolTools
  • Schema
      SQL> Connected.
      SQL> SQL> SQL> SQL> SQL> SQL> SQL>   2    3    4  
      -------- ------------ ---------- --------
      GLENNF	 B2	       239826150    38560
      GLENNF	 B1	       237390000    32110
      GLENNF	 S2		 4706245      750
      GLENNF	 S4		 4700995      750
      GLENNF	 S5		 4699955      750
      GLENNF	 S7		 4698450      750
      GLENNF	 S8		 4706435      750
      GLENNF	 S9		 4707445      750
      GLENNF	 S10		 4700905      750
      GLENNF	 S3		 4706375      750
      GLENNF	 GTEST		 4706170      750
      -------- ------------ ---------- --------
      GLENNF	 S6		 4700980      750
      GLENNF	 S1		 4705905      710
      HAYDEN	 HTEST		 4723031      750
      14 rows selected.
      SQL>   2    3    4  
      -------- ------------ ---------- --------
      GLENNF	 B1_I2	       244841720    11623
      GLENNF	 B2_I2	       239784800    11451
      GLENNF	 B1_I1	       248169793     8926
      GLENNF	 B2_I1	       241690170     8589
      GLENNF	 S6_I2		 4790380      229
      GLENNF	 S3_I2		 4760090      227
      GLENNF	 S2_I2		 4693120      226
      GLENNF	 S5_I2		 4688230      224
      GLENNF	 S8_I2		 4665695      223
      GLENNF	 S4_I2		 4503180      216
      GLENNF	 S1_I2		 4524730      216
      -------- ------------ ---------- --------
      GLENNF	 S9_I2		 4389080      211
      GLENNF	 S10_I2 	 4364885      209
      GLENNF	 S7_I2		 4357240      208
      GLENNF	 S2_I1		 4972635      177
      GLENNF	 S3_I1		 4849660      174
      GLENNF	 S6_I1		 4830895      174
      GLENNF	 S9_I1		 4775830      171
      GLENNF	 S7_I1		 4772975      169
      GLENNF	 S5_I1		 4648410      168
      GLENNF	 GTEST_C1	 4686790      167
      GLENNF	 S1_I1		 4661605      166
      -------- ------------ ---------- --------
      GLENNF	 S4_I1		 4626965      166
      GLENNF	 S10_I1 	 4605100      164
      GLENNF	 S8_I1		 4590735      163
      25 rows selected.

Monday Apr 21, 2008

Throughput computing series: Utilizing CMT with Oracle

Since we just recently announced mutli-chip based CMT servers that provide up to 128 threads in a 1U or 2U box, it seems fitting to pick up this thread on throughput computing.

The key to fully appreciating the CMT architecture with Oracle is to exploit the available threads. As I have spoke about earlier in the "throughput computing series", this can be done through "concurrency", "parallelism", or both. Oracle, being the mature product that it is, can achieve high-levels of parallelism as well as concurrency.

Concurrent processing with Oracle

For examples of concurrent processing with Oracle, look at recent results on the Oracle Ebusiness payroll benchmark. This shows that using concurrent processes to break up the batch, you can increase batch throughput. By going from 4 to 64 processes, batch time decreased from 31.53 minutes to 4.63 minutes and throughput was increased by 6.8x!

With Oracle's Ebusiness Suite of software, you can increase the number of "concurrent manager" processes to more fully utilize the available threads on the system. Each ISV has different ways of controlling batch distribution and concurrency. You will have to check with your various software vendors to find all the ways to increase concurrency.

Parallelism in Oracle

People often associate parallelism in Oracle with parallel query. In most cases where CMT is involved, I see a lack of understanding of how to achieve parallelism with more basic administrative functions. Oracle excels in providing parallelism for important administrative tasks.

  • Schema analyze
  • Index build/rebuild
  • Parallel loader
  • Parallel export/import with datapump

    While parallelism exists for these administrative tasks, some configuration is required. I will examine the various ways to achieve optimal throughput with CMT based systems on these tasks.
  • Monday Mar 10, 2008

    Oracle db_block_checksum performance bug

    We recently ran across a pretty strange performance bug with the checksum function of Oracle. This bug (6814520) causes excessive CPU to be used for the checksum routine. The checksum feature of Oracle is enabled by the db_block_checksum=TRUE parameter in Oracle. With the release of Oracle 10gR2, "TRUE" is the default setting. The order of magnitude of CPU overhead depends on the type of Solaris SPARC architecture.

    Chip     %overhead
    ----     ---------
    SPARC64       250%  
    USIV           45%  
    w/patch         8% 

    Oracle released a patch via metalink to address this situation. This patch is for installations. The fix will be included in:,, and

    If you are unsure whether or not you are hitting this bug, you can easily alter this parameter on the fly:
      SQL> alter system set db_block_checksum=FALSE
    Warning, this will disable the checksum feature and blocks written when this is turned to FALSE will not contain checksum information.

    Regardless of whether you are currently hitting the bug or not, the recommendation is:
      INSTALL "6814520" WHEN USING ORACLE !!!

    Thursday Feb 14, 2008

    Ensuring directIO with Oracle on Solaris UFS filesystems

    I usually really dislike blog entries that have nothing to say other than repackage bug descriptions and offer them up as knowledge, but in this case I have made an exception since the full impact of the bug is not fully described.

    There is a fairly nasty Oracle bug with that prevents the use of DirectIO with Solaris. The metalink note "406472.1" describes the failure modes but fails to mention the performance impact if you use "filesystemio_options=setall" and fail to have the mandatory patch "5752399" in place.

    This was particularly troubling to me since we have been recommending for years the use of the "setall" to ensure all the proper filesystem options are set for optimal performance. I just finished working a customer situation where this patch was not installed and their critical batch run-times were nearly 4x as large... Not a pretty situation.... OK, So bottom line:

    Friday Jan 04, 2008

    Organizational stove-pipes complicate database storage configurations.

    IT organizations at large companies are complex entities where people are partitioned by function. There are SAN people, system administrators, Database administrators, and Developers. While it is good to specialize by function there seems to be a mis-match when each organization optimizes their internal operations. Let me walk you though the a common situation where the SAN administrators and system administrators each try to optimize performance without consideration to overall picture.

    The setup

    • DBA requests storage for new application. They are expecting filesystem(s) or RAW luns will be presented for ASM use.
    • System's administrators request luns from the Storage administrators to fulfill the request.
    • Storage administrators supply the luns.

    Systems Administrators

    Their job is to make sure the performance of the supplied luns map cleanly to the Database environment. For years System Administrators have been using SW volume management/Raid to improve performance. So, naturally, they request a large number of luns (say 128) from the Storage administrators so they can stripe. Past experimentation has shown that a 32k stripe width was best.

    Storage Administrators

    The Storage people take care of large Hitachi or EMC boxes. Their job is to supply luns to applications and make sure their "san-box" performs well. They gladly supply the luns to the Systems administrators, but to ensure performance of the SAN box, they must prevent the fiber from "resets". The maximum number of requests on a fiber is 256 requests. So, no problem, they have the system administrators adjust the "sd_max_throttle" parameter so the OS will queue events and not cause resets. The rule of thumb is to set it to:
           sd_max_throttle = 256/#luns = 256/128 = 2

    Putting it all together

    So, now the system administrator takes these 128 luns and creates four file systems by striping 32 luns together each with a 32k stripe width using SVM. Since this is a SAN, there are multiple connections from the host to the SAN in this case there are 4 connections. MPxIO is used to round-robin IO requests to the 4 connections to the SAN to balance load and allow for fail-over in case of an HBA failure.

    This environment is turned over to the DBA who finds the performance is less than stellar.


    The DBA is running 10 jobs that result in queries which full scan 10 tables. These queries request 1MB per IO. Now a stripe width of 32k breaks down the 1MB IO into 32 equal pieces... and since there are 10 concurrent jobs that equates to 32\*10 or 320 concurrent request for IO. Finally, these 320 request, are routed down one of the four channels so that would be 320/4 or 80 requests per channel. Are you beginning to see the problem?

    Given the "sd_max_throttle" setting of 2, the OS will allow 2 outstanding requests at a time. If you look at the array, the performance will look great... so it must be an OS problem :)

    The Fix

    This issue was solved in multiple phases.
    • Quick Fix: Simply increase the "sd_max_throttle" >= 80. This will prevent queuing at the driver level.
    • Increased stripe width. Use an SVM stripe width of 1MB or greater. This will reduce the number of IO being broken down by the SW volume manager.
    • Optimal Solution. Eliminate SW striping all together and build larger luns within the SAN box.


    Storage issues often involve multiple layers of HW, SW, people, and organizations. To architect a well thought out solution, all aspects must be taken into consideration. Get everyone talking and sharing information so that your organizational stove-pipes don't cripple application performance.

    This blog discusses performance topics as running on Sun servers. The main focus is in database performance and architecture but other topics can and will creep in.


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