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Featured Database Articles


Posted May 31, 2004

DB2's Virtual Time

By Marin Komadina

The time problem occupied my attention, during a recent recovery situation. On the SUN Solaris machine, the system time jumped forward unexpectedly. This situation raised questions about system and database time interaction, the time drift influence on the backup and recovery and many others. For example, what happens in complex multi-partition DB2 database environments with millions of transactions when the time goes wild? This article investigates the DB2 database's internal behavior and uncovers some of those scenarios, helping you to better understanding time influence in the regular database life circle.

This article covers:

  • The System and Database Time
  • The Log Sequence Number (LSN)
  • Virtual Database Time
  • DB2 UDB Inter-Partition Time Synchronization
  • Conclusion

The System and Database Time

According IBM documentation, the database utilities distinguish Coordinated Universal Time and local system time. Nevertheless, many authors use additional phrases, such as Greenwich Mean Time or the ISO time.

CUT(Coordinated Universal Time) GMT(Greenwich Mean Time) ISO time

7-part character string that identifies a combined date and time data

yyyy-mm-dd-hh.mm.ss.nnnnnn (year,month,day,hour,minutes,seconds,microseconds)

- used during roll forward operations to point in time

- min recovery time in the LIST TABLESPACES report

- QUIESCE history records time

Local time

Time associated with

- backup images ( database timestamp converted always to server local time zone)

- drop table history entries

- used from GUI (Control Center)

Table 1: The time terms explanation

Even though many DB2 authors refer to the CUT as GMT or the ISO time, this time is slightly different from the time obtained to the time we are getting from official time servers (Universal Time Center - UTC). The difference exists in the leap seconds. Those differences are ignored in calculations and CUT time is considered as equal to the UTC time.

For example, the timestamp used for roll forward operations is specified as Coordinated Universal Time (CUT), which is the result of subtracting the Current Time zone from the Local Time.

db2 => values (current date,current time ,current timezone)

---------- --------  --------
05/09/2004 15:21:52   20000,    -> timezone +2

db2 => values (current date,current time - current timezone)

CUT_date   CUT_time
---------- --------
05/09/2004 13:22:03
Listing 1: CUT time calculation

The CURRENT TIMEZONE special register specifies the difference between CUT and local time, presented as a decimal number in which the first two digits represent the number of hours, the next two digits represent the number of minutes and the last two digits represent the number of seconds. In our case, the time zone difference was 2 hours. A second method of calculating the CUT time is by using UNIX operating system commands:

Mon May 10 09:58:45 MEST DST 2004

db2inst1:/export/home/db2inst1$set | grep TZ

db2inst1:/export/home/db2inst1$date -u
Mon May 10 07:58:48 GMT 2004
Listing 2: UNIX system time

The displayed UNIX machine has the Middle European Summer Time (MEST) time zone. The CUT time calculation:

CUT Time= Local Time + Time Zone Diff + Daylight Savings Difference
              = 09:58 MEST+ 1 (MET) + 1 (EDT)
              = 07:58

The number (+)1 specifies the time zone west of GMT in hours to the CUT time. The third part (EDT) is specified if daylight savings time is used. Or simply, using the UNIX command date -u we are obtaining CUT time.

Every DB2 DBA has already seen CUT time, but maybe it was not so obvious.

db2inst1:/export/home/db2inst1$db2 list application global
Auth Id  Application    Appl.      Application Id                 DB       # of
         Name           Handle                                    Name    Agents
-------- -------------- ---------- ------------------------------ -------- -----
DB2INST1 db2bp          48         *LOCAL.db2inst1.040510075945   ARTIST   1    
Listing 3: CUT time included in the application qualifier

An application in the application list uses connect time in CUT format as part of the application identifier.

Serious systems have dedicated time synchronization services in force with dedicated time servers on the network. The following picture demonstrates a corporation network with enforced time service synchronization system for the database servers.

Picture 1: Corporate time infrastructure

The total time difference between the servers is sum of

  • transaction communication delay due to the complexity of the network infrastructure
  • transaction operational delay due to the operation delay on the local database partition
  • partition time delay due to the commit delay for the distribution transaction

A local time server uses external, Internet time reference server for local system clock synchronization. At regular intervals, the database servers are pooled and their clocks synchronized with the local time server. A DBA can check for the existence of the time daemon process using the following procedure:

>>  ps -edf | grep xn*
    root   497     1  0   Nov 24 2004        0:03 /usr/lib/inet/xntpd

root@ARTSIT01:/etc# ntpdate -q -s
server, stratum 2, offset -0.000155, delay 0.02605
Listing 4: Network Time Protocol Demon check

The Network Time Protocol (NTP) daemon (unix process xntpd), runs on
the database server machine and references the synchronization point at IP
address The local NTP daemon checks the time on the NTP server at regular intervals, collecting several time samples and adjusting the local time. In our case the actual time drift was 0,02605 seconds.

The Log Sequence Number (LSN)

For the DB2 database, the Log Sequence Number has a very high priority. It is some kind of internal database marker that registers the oldest changed database page (MinBuffLSN) and oldest uncommitted transaction (LowTranLSN) in the buffer pool. During database activity, the LSN markers are updated in the in the Log Control Header, which is maintained in memory and disk.

The actual database Log Sequence Numbers can be found in:

Log Control File Header

Written by agent on commit, by DB2 EDU after a checkpoint, reset log or incomplete recovery

Data and Index Pages

Written by agent in the Page Header used to specify the LSN of the last change in the page

Recovery History File

The last log sequence number saved by the database backup or processed during a roll forward recovery operation

Table 2: LSN registration

Each database commit increments the LSN latch that is unique per transaction. Access to LSN latch is strictly controlled, and access serialized. Only one transaction can access to the latch and the right to increment LSN sequence at a time. The Log Sequence Number is a 48-bit sequence, and consists of a base value (4 bytes) along with a wrap value (2 bytes).

C:\db2\bin\SAMPLE2.0\DB2\NODE0000\CATN0000\20040508>db2ckbkp -H 220242.001 | grep LSN  
                      Base LSN = 0000 00EA 6000
                      Next LSN = 0000 00EA 600C
                  Low Tran LSN = 0000 00EA 600C
                  Min Buff LSN = 0000 00EA 600C
                      Head LSN = 0000 00EA 600C
                      Tail LSN = 0000 00EA 600C
         Forward Rec Trunc LSN = 0000 0000 0000
     Forward Rec Last Read LSN = 0000 00B8 E0EF
       TableSpace Low Tran LSN = 0000 0000 000C
       TableSpace Min Buff LSN = 0000 0000 000C
        TableSpace Restart LSN = 0000 0000 0000
      TableSpace Last Read LSN = 0000 0000 0000
                   Initial LSN = 0000 00EA 600C
            Initial Extent LSN = 0000 00EA 600C
       LastRecLsn value in LFH = 0000 00DA DFC0
                 Reset Log LSN = 0000 0000 0000
Listing 5: Listing LSN numbers from DB2 backup file

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