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Posted May 14, 2004

Multiple Temporary Tablespaces in Oracle 10g

By James Koopmann

The creation and use of temporary tablespaces has just taken another leap in performance and manageability, which should make us all re-think how we have created and assigned our users to temporary tablespaces.

The TEMPORARY Tablespace

When a users executes a SQL statement that requires sorting or does some sort of database maintenance that requires the creation of temporary segments, it is the temporary tablespace that assists in that sorting or holding of those temporary segments. If we did not have an area designated as "temporary", these operations and segments would have to cohabitate with permanent segments. We realized quite a few releases back in Oracle that this was not a good idea and that we need to separate the temporary segments from the permanent segments. If we did not allow this, we were imposing undo harm within our database and to the performance of other SQL statements accessing and manipulating the segments in those tablespaces.

The Evolution of the TEMPORARY Tablespace

  1. Oracle allowed DBAs to create a normal tablespace and assign this to users to use as a temporary tablespace through the CREATE USER or ALTER USER commands. These tablespaces could hold temporary segments and permanent segments. Oracle's position at that time was to advise everyone not to place permanent segments into these tablespaces that were also being used as TEMPORARY tablespaces for users.
  2. Oracle then implemented the notion of a true TEMPORARY tablespace. These TEMPORARY tablespaces were to be assigned to users at creation time and could only hold temporary segments. This was a great step in the right direction because now we could not place permanent objects into them and no longer could users be assigned permanent tablespaces as their temporary tablespaces.
  3. Oracle then went one step further and allowed us to create a DEFAULT TEMPORARY tablespace for the entire database. The benefit this gives is, if we forget to specify a temporary tablespace for the user, they will inherit the DEFAULT TEMPORARY tablespace as theirs.
  4. Now in Oracle 10g, Oracle lets us group temporary tablespaces together to gain a bit more flexibility that allows us to create multiple temporary tablespaces and to create tablespace groups and assign these tablespace groups to users.

Tablespace Groups

Oracle now has the concept of grouping multiple tablespaces together in what they call a tablespace group. This allows you to create multiple temporary tablespaces, assign these temporary tablespaces to a tablespace group, and then use the tablespace group as the default temporary tablespace for the database or user. The benefit this has is that a single SQL statement or set of SQL statements may use more than the one temporary tablespace you have created in the past and now span multiple tablespaces. This has the following benefits if you create your temporary tablespaces and tablespace groups properly.

  1. You can tailor user load to individual temporary tablespaces.

  2. You can allow large sort operations to span and consume multiple temporary tablespaces if needed.

  3. Finer granularity so you can distribute operations across temporary tablespaces.

  4. Reduced contention when multiple temporary tablespaces are defined.

The Life of a Tablespace Group

You can implicitly create a tablespace group during the creation of a temporary tablespace with the CREATE TEMPORARY TABLESPACE command and by specifying the TABLESPACE GROUP clause. There is no CREATE TABLESPACE GROUP statement. Therefore, during the creation of a temporary tablespace called GTEMP01 we can add this tablespace to a tablespace group called GTEMP by using the following statement.


The tablespace group name must be an existing tablespace group name or one that does not exists. In addition, it must not be the name of an existing tablespace or you will get an error such as the following that notifies you that the tablespace already exists.

SQL> /
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-01543: tablespace 'GTEMP' already exists

We can also switch a tablespace's group, add a tablespace to a group or create a new tablespace group by using the following statement.


If you wanted to remove a tablespace from a tablespace group and not assign it to a new tablespace group, you would use the following statement where the TABLESPACE GROUP clause is used but an empty string is used for the group.


You cannot get rid of a tablespace group explicitly. In order for a tablespace group to be implicitly removed from the database, you need to alter those tablespaces to either use another tablespace group or alter them not to use any tablespace groups by assigning them to an explicit tablespace.


You can always take a look at what tablespace groups you have defined by looking at the DBA_TABLESPACE_GROUPS view. Issue the following SQL and you can see what we have already defined for our running example.

SQL> SELECT group_name, tablespace_name 
       FROM dba_tablespace_groups;

GROUP_NAME                     TABLESPACE_NAME
------------------------------ -------------------
GTEMP                          GTEMP01
GTEMP                          GTEMP02

Setting the Default Temporary Tablespace

Now that we have defined multiple tablespaces to be part of a tablespace group called GTEMP, we can now use this tablespace group just as any other tablespace. One use of a tablespace group can be for the default temporary tablespace. If you wish to assign this new tablespace group as the default temporary tablespace, just issue the following SQL. Now any user who you have not given a temporary tablespace at user creation time will be assigned this new tablespace group as their temporary tablespace.

Database altered.

The temporary tablespace within large organizations that require many sort operations typically would experience high levels of contention. It was then left up to the DBA to segregate sort operations by users and create islands of temporary tablespaces so that those operations would not contend for similar resources that are associated with a single temporary tablespace. The problem with this is that the very large operations would typically need independent large temporary tablespaces. This would lead to wasted resources. With the addition of tablespace groups, Oracle now allows us to group multiple temporary tablespaces together so that we have one more choice in the usage patterns of these temporary tablespaces. We now need to ask ourselves if an operation truly needs its own individual temporary tablespace or the operation can span multiple temporary tablespaces and work without contention with the other operations that are occurring. If so, we can consolidate, reduce disk consumption, and possibly contention.

» See All Articles by Columnist James Koopmann

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