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.

Thursday Feb 14, 2008

Ensuring directIO with Oracle 10.2.0.3 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 10.2.0.3 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:
    MAKE SURE YOU INSTALL "5752399" WHEN USING ORACLE 10.2.0.3 !!!

Friday Aug 04, 2006

High "times()" syscall count with Oracle processes

"Why does Oracle call times() so often? Is something broken? When using truss or dtrace to profile Oracle shadow processes, one often sees a lot of calls to "times". Sysadmins often approach me with this query.

root@catscratchb> truss -cp 7700
\^C
syscall               seconds   calls  errors
read                     .002     120
write                    .008     210
times                    .053   10810
semctl                   .000      17
semop                    .000       8
semtimedop               .000       9
mmap                     .003      68
munmap                   .003       5
yield                    .002     231
pread                    .150    2002
kaio                     .003      68
kaio                     .001      68
                     --------  ------   ----
sys totals:              .230   13616      0
usr time:               1.127
elapsed:               22.810

At first glance it would seem alarming to have so many times() calls, but how much does this really effect performance? This question can best be answered by looking at the overall "elapsed" and "cpu" time. Below is output from the "procsystime" tool included in the Dtrace toolkit.

root@catscratchb> ./procsystime -Teco -p 7700
Hit Ctrl-C to stop sampling...
\^C
Elapsed Times for PID 7700,
         SYSCALL          TIME (ns)
            mmap           17615703
           write           21187750
          munmap           21671772
           times           90733199       <<== Only 0.28% of elapsed time
          semsys          188622081
            read          226475874
           yield          522057977
           pread        31204749076
          TOTAL:        32293113432

CPU Times for PID 7700,
         SYSCALL          TIME (ns)
          semsys            1346101
           yield            3283406
            read            7511421
            mmap           16701455
           write           19616610
          munmap           21576890
           times           33477300         <<== 10.6% of CPU time for the times syscall
           pread          211710238
          TOTAL:          315223421

Syscall Counts for PID 7700,
         SYSCALL              COUNT
          munmap                 17
          semsys                 84
            read                349
            mmap                350
           yield                381
           write                540
           pread               3921
           times              24985    <<== 81.6% of syscalls.
          TOTAL:              30627

According to the profile above, the times() syscall accounts for only 0.28% of the overall response time. It does use 10.6% of sys CPU. The usr/sys CPU percentages are "83/17" for this application. So, using the 17% for system CPU we can calculate the overall amount of CPU for the times() syscall: 100\*(.17\*.106)= 1.8%.

Oracle uses the times() syscall to keep track of timed performance statistics. Timed statistics can be enabled/disabled by setting the init.ora parameter "TIMED_STATISTICS=TRUE". In fact, it is an \*old\* benchmark trick to disable TIMED_STATISTICS after all tuning has been done. This is usually good for another 2% in overall throughput. In a production environment, it is NOT advisable to ever disable TIMED_STATISTICS. These statistics are extremely important to monitor and maintain application performance. I would argue that disabling timed statistics would actually hurt performance in the long run.
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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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