SCN

Transactions and SCNs

It’s general knowledge that the Oracle database is ACID compliant, and that SCNs or ‘system change numbers’ are at the heart of this mechanism. This blogpost dives into the details of how the Oracle engine uses these numbers.

Oracle database version 12.1.0.2.161018
Operating system version: OL 7.2, kernel: 4.1.12-61.1.14.el7uek.x86_64 (UEK4)

Redo generation
Whenever DML is executed, redo is generated in the form of ‘change vectors’. These change vectors are copied into the redo buffer as part of the transaction, during the transaction. The function that performs this action is called ‘kcrfw_copy_cv()’. This can be derived by watching the foreground process perform memory copy into the memory area of the redo buffer.

In order to do this, you first need to find the memory area of the redo buffer. This can be done by executing ‘oradebug setmypid’ and ‘oradebug ipc’ as sysdba, and examine the resulting trace file:

Smoke and mirrors: monitoring function calls that do not exist anymore

During investigating I ran once again into statistics in the Oracle database that still provide a useful details, but the actual naming of the statistic is describing a situation that in reality does not exist anymore. The statistics I am talking about are ‘calls to kcmgcs’, ‘calls to kcmgrs’, ‘calls to kcmgas’ and ‘calls to get snapshot scn: kcmgss’.

Disclaimer: this is research. Any of these techniques potentially can crash your instance or leave your database in a corrupted state. Test the techniques used in this article severely before applying it in an actual situation. Use at your own risk.

Back to the ‘calls to’ statistics. To see what I mean here, you can look up the functions in symbol table in the Oracle executable. There are several ways to do that, one way is using gdb:

Flashback Query "AS OF" - Tablescan costs

This is just a short note prompted by a recent thread on the OTN forums. In recent versions Oracle changes the costs of a full table scan (FTS or index fast full scan / IFFS) quite dramatically if the "flashback query" clause gets used.

It looks like that it simply uses the number of blocks of the segment as I/O cost for the FTS operation, quite similar to setting the "db_file_multiblock_read_count" ("dbfmbrc"), or from 10g on more precisely the "_db_file_optimizer_read_count", to 1 (but be aware of the MBRC setting of WORKLOAD System Statistics, see comments below) for the cost estimate of the segment in question.

This can lead to some silly plans depending on the available other access paths as can be seen from the thread mentioned.

Understanding the SCN

For the DBAs who want to have a refreser on SCN (system change number), this article article is very nice and explained clearly written by Sandeep Makol. It started on where you ‘ll find info for SCN (controlfile and datafile headers) then goes to the backup and recovery scenarios where knowledge of this “magic number” is very useful.

Below are some useful scripts (with sample output) as well