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How Exadata smartscans work

I guess everybody who is working with Oracle databases and has been involved with Oracle Exadata in any way knows about smartscans. It is the smartscan who makes the magic happen of full segment scans with sometimes enormously reduced scan times. The Oracle database does smartscans which something that is referred to as ‘offloading’. This is all general known information.

But how does that work? I assume more people are like me, and are anxious to understand how that exactly works. But the information on smartscans is extremely scarce. Of course there is the Oracle public material, which looks technical, but is little/nothing more than marketing. On My Oracle Support, I can’t find anything on the inner working. Even in the ‘Expert Oracle Exadata’ book (which I still regard as the best source of Exadata related information) there is no material on the mechanics of smartscans.

Exadata and the passthrough or pushback mode

Exadata gets its performance by letting the storage (the exadata storage server) participate in query processing, which means part of the processing is done as close as possible to where the data is stored. The participation of the storage server in query processing means that a storage grid can massively parallel (depending on the amount of storage servers participating) process a smart scan request.