Flushing a cursor out of the Library Cache  

Posted by Mawahid in

In order to demonstrate the problem and the fix we need to have something to play around with.
SQL> create table skew(c1 number(6), c2 char(20));

Table created.

SQL> insert into skew select 1,1 from dual connect by level <= 10000;

10000 rows created.

SQL> update skew set c1 = 2 where rownum <= 10;

10 rows updated.

SQL> create index skew_idx on skew(c1);

Index created.

SQL> exec dbms_stats.gather_table_stats(null,'skew', -
> method_opt => 'for all columns size 2')

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> select c1, count(*) from skew group by c1;

        C1   COUNT(*)
---------- ----------
         1       9990
         2         10

We now have an indexed table with skewed data in it with current object statistics in place including a histogram on the skewed column. Lets execute a query using a bind variable on the skewed column and see what the query optimizer expects and what execution plan it considers optimal.
SQL> var x number
SQL> exec :x := 1;

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x;

 COUNT(C2)
----------
      9990

SQL> select *
  2  from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(null,null,'basic rows'));

PLAN_TABLE_OUTPUT
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXPLAINED SQL STATEMENT:
------------------------
select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x

Plan hash value: 568322376

-------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation          | Name | Rows  |
-------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT   |      |       |
|   1 |  SORT AGGREGATE    |      |     1 |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| SKEW |  9990 |
-------------------------------------------

The example above shows that the query optimizer predicted the cardinality correctly and choosed the optimal execution plan based upon this information. It could do so because there is a histogram available to describe the data skew in the table. Now see what happens if we bind the value 2 and execute the query again:
SQL> exec :x := 2;

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x;

 COUNT(C2)
----------
        10

SQL> select *
  2  from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(null,null,'basic rows'));

PLAN_TABLE_OUTPUT
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXPLAINED SQL STATEMENT:
------------------------
select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x

Plan hash value: 568322376

-------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation          | Name | Rows  |
-------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT   |      |       |
|   1 |  SORT AGGREGATE    |      |     1 |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS FULL| SKEW |  9990 |
-------------------------------------------

Because the statement is not hard parsed again the same execution plan is used based on the prediction of 9990 rows. Because the query only returns 10 rows this execution plan is no longer optimal for the given value for the bind variable. If this query gets executed many times with this value of the bind variable we do have a performance problem for as long as this execution plan remains in the library cache. If this is indeed the case it might be beneficial to flush this cursor out of the shared pool. Starting with 10.2.0.4.0 this can be done using the PURGE procedure in the DBMS_SHARED_POOL package as demonstrated below:
SQL> @?/rdbms/admin/dbmspool

Package created.

Grant succeeded.

View created.

Package body created.

SQL> select address, hash_value from v$sqlarea
  2  where sql_text = 'select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x';

ADDRESS  HASH_VALUE
-------- ----------
27308318 2934790721

SQL> exec sys.dbms_shared_pool.purge('&address, &hash_value','c')

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

Because the DBMS_SHARED_POOL package is not installed at database creation time, it has to be installed manually as shown above. The PURGE procedure needs the ADDRESS and HASH_VALUE of the cursor being flushed and the flag ‘C’ to indicate that we are flushing a cursor. This knowledge comes out of the dbmspool.sql script. The ADDRESS and HASH_VALUE can be retrieved from V$SQLAREA as shown in the example. A successful execution of the PURGE procedure indicates that the parent cursor is gone among with its children. A next execution of the query will force a hard parse and the creation of a new execution plan as we can see below:
SQL> select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x;

 COUNT(C2)
----------
        10

SQL> select *
  2  from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(null,null,'basic rows'));

PLAN_TABLE_OUTPUT
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXPLAINED SQL STATEMENT:
------------------------
select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x

Plan hash value: 3493361220

---------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                    | Name     | Rows  |
---------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT             |          |       |
|   1 |  SORT AGGREGATE              |          |     1 |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| SKEW     |    10 |
|   3 |    INDEX RANGE SCAN          | SKEW_IDX |    10 |
---------------------------------------------------------

This time the query optimizer predicted the correct number of rows for the given value of the bind variable and selected the optimal execution plan for the given situation. The difficulty is of course to detect these situations before we can correct them. An indication could be a difference in the predicted number of rows and the actual number of rows in an execution plan, but therefore we need to set the STATISTICS_LEVEL parameter to ALL or add the GATHER_PLAN_STATISTICS hint to all possible affected statements which might be difficult to do. Once a possible affected statement has been found we can see the used bind value in the execution plan by using the PEEKED_BINDS options in the format specifier in the call to DBMS_XPLAN.
SQL> exec :x := 1;

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x;

 COUNT(C2)
----------
      9990

SQL> select *
  2  from table(dbms_xplan.display_cursor(null,null,'basic rows peeked_binds'));

PLAN_TABLE_OUTPUT
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXPLAINED SQL STATEMENT:
------------------------
select count(c2) from skew where c1 = :x

Plan hash value: 3493361220

---------------------------------------------------------
| Id  | Operation                    | Name     | Rows  |
---------------------------------------------------------
|   0 | SELECT STATEMENT             |          |       |
|   1 |  SORT AGGREGATE              |          |     1 |
|   2 |   TABLE ACCESS BY INDEX ROWID| SKEW     |    10 |
|   3 |    INDEX RANGE SCAN          | SKEW_IDX |    10 |
---------------------------------------------------------

Peeked Binds (identified by position):
--------------------------------------

   1 - :X (NUMBER): 2

In this final example we bounded the value 1 again and executed the query which retrieved 9990 rows whilst the execution plan shows a prediction of only 10 rows. By using PEEKED_BINDS we receive extra information from DBMS_XPLAN telling us that this particular execution plan is based on the value 2 of the first bind variable in the statement which is named ‘:x’ and is a number data type.

Conclusion: By using the PURGE procedure in the DBMS_SHARED_POOL package we can flush a cursor out of the Library Cache when the execution plan causes performance problems due to an unlucky bind variable value. However this is only a temporary solution. The definitive solution is Adaptive Cursor Sharing which is introduced in Oracle11g.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 8:38 AM and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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