Wait events in Oracle RAC

Oracle has been self-managing for a long time. We all know
that, but the self-tuning capacity is yet to be seen. Most Oracle DBAs go for
the Dynamic Performance Views when it comes to analyzing database problems. Here
we will primarily look at the Global Cache waits.

What is a Wait Event?

An event can be anything that Oracle
has to perform on behalf of a set of instructions sent by the user interface.
It can also be its own background process as well. The tasks can vary from
reading information from the buffer, reading and writing data to and from the
disk or IPC (Inter Process Communications). The term “wait” is used
because every time a user connects to your application, a resource is allocated
to perform tasks on its behalf. The waiting comes when a session is waiting for
an action, sometimes from a user and at other times from the database. In each
case the wait time, which is tracked, is charged to the resource waited upon. For instance, a block
that is no longer in memory has to be picked up from the disk and then it has
to wait for that block. That “wait” event can be associated with the file
sequential read event.

Global Buffer Cache: How is it different on a RAC?

Let’s quickly see how a buffer cache works in
the RAC environment. In a typical single node Oracle database there is only one
instance and it has only one set of memory segments. Moreover, all OS related
operations such as I/O, SQL statements and cache operations are routed via that
single set of memory structures. So, as you can see, on a simpler, small scale
application it works fine but the whole ball game changes when we move onto clustering
the database. Then suddenly you have multiple instances that share a single
database. These instances are running on separate hardware, with its own OS.
They have their own separate memory structures and the buffer cache has to be
split across the nodes.

A requesting node may find the requested block resides
on an entirely different node than itself! Processes,
local to the machine (the remote node), need to access these buffer caches
(which together make up the Global Buffer Cache), for reading. The remote node’s LMS
(Lock Manager Service) process will be accessing the global buffer cache. Therefore,
you see that the local buffer cache operations are not really local and are
spread globally across all the RAC nodes. The operation associated with
handling the requests is equally complicated and that makes the wait events in
RAC equally different from a typical single node Oracle Server.

For instance, take this comparison. On a typical
single node server, the block is requested by a process, pinning the buffer and
thus modifying the block. While on a RAC, it may appear to do the same, which it
does actually, but since there is the possibility of that modification having
already taken place on another node, this makes the modification to the disk a
risk as it already may have happened by another node. In addition, Oracle
maintains consistency throughout the RAC with lock mastering and resource
affinity. Here the requesting node makes a request to the GCS (Global Cache
Service) to gain access to the resource currently mastered by the locking node
(also called the master node).

In a typical RAC environment, the lock mastering
is handled by the Global Resource Directory, which in turn is managed by the
GES (Global Enqueue Service) and GCS. The remastering of the resources is based
on resource affinity. This is good for performance as it localizes the
resources per ownership. The more the resource is used by a particular instance
the more of a chance (for performance reasons) that it is “dynamically remastered”
to that node. The parameter _LM_DYNAMIC_REMASTERING = TRUE ensures this
behavior. Setting it to FALSE will disable it. Try querying the view V$BH to
see its various states:

FREE – unused
XCUR – exclusive current
SCUR – shared current
CR – consistent read
READ – being read from disk
MREC – in media recovery mode
IREC – in instance recovery mode
WRI- Write Clone Mode
PI- Past Image

Global Cache Wait

Normally, when requesting a block information
Oracle first checks its own local cache, should the block not be there then it
will request the resource master for shared access to that block. If the blocks
are in the remote node’s buffer cache (note: buffer and blocks actually mean
the same, it is the data entity that we wish to modify, which is normally
referred to as a data block), then the blocks are copied via the backbone
or the HIS (High Speed Interconnect). Such tests are excellent to carry out on
a typical ESX server Oracle RAC node where the interconnect speed as fast as
the PCI speeds. And it is this little time (however little that it may
be) required to get that block from the remote cache, recorded as the
"global cache cr request"  wait event.

Depending on the shared or exclusive mode of the
buffer, the time may differ. If it is in a shared mode then the remote node
copies the cache to the requesting node. If the number of blocks exceed the
_FAIRNESS_THRESHOLD value then the lock might be downgraded. If the
buffer is in exclusive mode (XCUR), the Past Image has to be
built and copied across the buffer cache.

In a typical scenario the requesting node will
wait up to 100cs and then retry reading the same block either from the disk or
wait for the remote buffer. If you are experiencing excessive waits then you
might have a slow private interconnect.


So you get the idea why we need the infrastructure
(dual network cards, for instance) Oracle RAC and how we can enhance our RAC’s
performance. This is barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to performance
tuning our RAC but does play a crucial role in helping us decide how we should
configure our RAC. Understanding the internals will help us understand it even
more. We took a brief look at our Global Cache Wait; in a future article, we
will go into more detail when we benchmark our RAC on VMware by stress testing


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Tarry Singh

Tarry Singh
Tarry Singh
I have been active in several industries since 1991. While working in the maritime industry I have worked for several Fortune 500 firms such as NYK, A.P. Møller-Mærsk Group. I made a career switch, emigrated, learned a new language and moved into the IT industry starting 2000. Since then I have been a Sr. DBA, (Technical) Project Manager, Sr. Consultant, Infrastructure Specialist (Clustering, Load Balancing, Networks, Databases) and (currently) Virtualization/Cloud Computing Expert and Global Sourcing in the IT industry. My deep understanding of multi-cultural issues (having worked across the globe) and international exposure has not only helped me successfully relaunch my career in a new industry but also helped me stay successful in what I do. I believe in "worknets" and "collective or swarm intelligence". As a trainer (technical as well as non-technical) I have trained staff both on national and international level. I am very devoted, perspicacious and hard working.
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