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Index Splits – 2

In yesterday’s article I described the mechanism that Oracle for an index leaf block split when you try to insert a new entry into a leaf block that is already full, and I demonstrated that the “50-50” split and the “90-10” split work in the same way, namely:

Index splits

After writing this note I came to the conclusion that it will be of no practical benefit to anyone …  but I’m publishing it anyway because it’s just an interesting little observation about the thought processes of some Oracle designer/developer. (Or maybe it’s an indication of how it’s sensible to re-use existing code rather than coding for a particular boundary case, or maybe it’s an example of how to take advantage of “dead time” to add a little icing to the cake when the extra time required might not get noticed). Anyway, the topic came up in a recent thread on the OTN/ODC database forum and since the description given there wasn’t quite right I thought I’d write up a correction and a few extra notes.

Direct IOT

A recent (automatic ?) tweet from Connor McDonald highlighted an article he’d written a couple of years ago about an enhancement introduced in 12c that allowed for direct path inserts to index organized tables (IOTs). The article included a demonstration seemed to suggest that direct path loads to IOTs were of no benefit, and ended with the comment (which could be applied to any Oracle feature): “Direct mode insert is a very cool facility, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the best option in every situation.”

Validate FK

A comment arrived yesterday on an earlier posting about an enhancement to the truncate command in 12c that raised the topic of what Oracle might do to validate a foreign key constraint. Despite being sure I had the answer written down somewhere (maybe on a client site or in a report to a client) I couldn’t find anything I’d published about it, so I ran up a quick demo script to show that all Oracle does is construct a simple SQL statement that will do check the data – and then do whatever the optimizer does to produce the fastest possible plan.

Here’s the script – with a few variations to show what happens if you start tweaking features to change the plan.

Truncate upgrade

Connor McDonald produced a tweet yesterday linking to a short video he’d created about an enhancement to the truncate command in 12c. If you have referential integrity declared between a parent and child table then in 12c you can truncate the parent table and Oracle will truncate the child table for you – rather than raising an error. The feature requires the foreign key constraint to be declared “on delete cascade” – which is an option that I don’t see used very often. Unfortunately if you try to change an existing foreign key constraint to meet this requirement you’ll find that you can’t (yet) use the “alter table modify constraint” to make the necessary change. As Connor pointed out, you’ll have to drop and recreate the constraint – which leaves you open to bad data getting into the system or an outage while you do the drop and recreate.

Cursor_sharing force

Prompted by a recent ODC (OTN) question I’ve just written up an example of one case where setting the cursor_sharing parameter to force doesn’t work as you might expect. It’s a specific example of what I believe is a theme that can appear in several different circumstances: if your SQL mixes “genuine” bind variable with literals then the literals may not be substituted.

Here’s a simple data set to start with:

dbms_random

In a recent ODC thread someone had a piece of SQL that was calling dbms_random.string(‘U’,20) to generate random values for a table of 100,000,000 rows. The thread was about how to handle the ORA-30009 error (not enough memory for operation) that is almost inevitable when you use the “select from dual connect by level <= n” strategy for generating very large numbers of rows, but this example of calling dbms_random.string() so frequently prompted me to point out an important CPU saving , and then publicise through this blog a little known fact (or deduction) about the dbms_random.string() function.

255 Columns

It’s the gift that keeps on giving – no matter how many problems you find there are always more waiting to be found. It’s been some time since I last wrote about tables with more than 255 columns, and I said then that there was more to come. In the last article I described how adding a few columns to a table, or updating a trailing column in a way that made the table’s used column count exceed 255, could result in some strange row-splitting behaviour – in this article I’m going to look at a critical side effect of that behaviour.

Nested MVs

A recent client was seeing a very large redo penalty from refreshing materialized views. Unfortunately they had to be refreshed very frequently, and were being handled with a complete refresh in atomic mode – which means delete every row from every MV then re-insert every row.  The total redo was running at about 5GB per hour, which wasn’t a problem for throughput, but the space for handling backup and recovery was getting a bit extreme.

The requirement consisted of two MVs which extracted and aggregated row and column subsets in two different ways from a single table; then two MVs that aggregated one of the first MVs in two different ways; then two MVs which each joined one of the first level MVs to one of the scond level MVs.

ASSM tangle

Here’s a follow-on from Tuesday’s (serious) note about a bug in 12.1.0.2 that introduces random slowdown on large-scale inserts. This threat in this note, while truthful and potentially a nuisance, is much less likely to become visible because it depends on you doing something that you probably shouldn’t be doing.

There have always been problems with ASSM and large-scale deletes – when should Oracle mark a block as having free space on deletion: if your session does it immediately then other sessions will start trying to use the free space that isn’t really there until you commit; if your session doesn’t do it immediately when can it happen, since you won’t want it done on commit – but that means the segment could “lose” a lot of free space if something doesn’t come along in a timely fashion and tidy up.