Fun with Distributed Transactions II

Short on examples, long on words…

Last week I did a quick post about a couple of the more obscure implications of using distributed transactions, in particular:

  • The current impact on subquery materialisations
  • The incompatibility with MVs
  • The unusual situation of transactions with locks but no sessions

Anyway, earlier today I was having a closer look at some “DFS lock handle” wait events in an 11gR1 RAC database (not because there was an obvious problem but because I saw a few of them an wanted to have a closer look).

On a DFS lock handle wait, you have to decode P1 to find out what it’s all about as discussed by Riyaj Shamsudeen.

In my case, these were mostly DX and BB enqueues which are related to my old friend the distributed transaction.

Why am I still banging on about distributed transactions?

Well, you might think that they’re not very common but in the JDBC world they seem to be everywhere.

XA transactions are used (overused) throughout the JDBC world and so they might well be very relevant to any database that you’ve got with a JDBC app sitting atop.

A common pattern seen is to take some message off a queue, do something related to that message in the database, and use an XA transaction so that both stand or fail together.

In my previous post, I mentioned an AskTom thread discussing Materialized Views and distributed transactions.

I added some thoughts to that thread and Tom’s observation was

that the java/jdbc world for some reasons wishes to use an external resource manager so they have to do two phase commits against a single database isn’t what I was talking about. when I’ve seen the XA stuff – there is typically *one* database involved and it makes everything really complex,
hard to understand and slower than it needs to be.

Which might well be a fair point but still doesn’t change the fact that if your insert/update/delete comes in on an XA, then being unable to use a fast refresh on commit MV is really quite a restriction.

Anyway, back to my observations on these enqueues.

There’s not much information related to the BB enqueue but I believe that it’s related to the coordination of global transactions on a RAC cluster.

From 11gR1 distributed transactions can be processed on any instance in the cluster and these BB enqueues seem to be part of that picture. Prior to this change, any branches of a distributed transaction had to execute on the same node.

Whilst we’re on the subject, inevitably there are some bugs around these, in particular the BB enqueue and GTX processes (processes introduced to manage these enhanced cross cluster distributed transaction features).

The DX enqueue is perhaps more interesting.

It looks after “tightly coupled distributed transactions”.

So, WTF are tightly coupled distributed transactions and how do they differ from loosely coupled distributed transactions?

Tightly coupled transactions enable other branches of the transaction – and from our database perspective we’re only talking about multiple sessions in the same database which are part of the same distributed transaction – to:

  • share each others locks and
  • see each others changes.

The DX enqueue helps manage this.

As part of this, what the DX enqueue does is make sure that only one transaction branch is actively executing SQL at any one time.

So that’s potentially a pretty hefty point of serialisation then.

For more information, the Oracle whitepaper “XA and Oracle controlled Distributed Transactions” linked to below is a really good resource particularly the section “Distributed Transactions and Database Locking”.

However… just to emphasise the point …

In a tightly coupled tranasction, the DX enqueue is obtained before executing any statement.

By contrast, loosely coupled tranasctions do not need to get this DX lock before executing a statement, i.e. no serialisation between different transaction branches.

As the developer’s guide below says “loosely coupled transaction branches result in greater concurrency.”

So, not only is there an overhead to XA transactions but there is an additional overhead to tightly coupled transactions.

And, how many applications really use multiple transaction branches in a single database.

Very, very few, I wager!

And if they do, how many of those applications appreciate the serialisation involved anyway?

Now depending on your version, you might not see the DX and BB enqueues in your enqueue statistics.

In 11.1.0.7 I don’t seem to see anything in V$ENQUEUE_STAT for DX or BB.

There are however some relevant session/system statistic buckets:

  • DX/BB enqueue lock foreground requests
  • DX/BB enqueue lock foreground wait time
  • DX/BB enqueue lock background gets
  • DX/BB enqueue lock background get time

For more information see:

Modelling a “simple” ITL problem

Today I have been looking at an application problem.

Last night important client processing missed its SLA with the application reporting ORA-02049: timeout: distributed timeout waiting for lock.

This post isn’t about the distributed lock timing out.

But consider the evidence that further investigation into these distributed locks threw up.

  1. The parameter distributed_lock_timeout is set to the default of 60 (seconds) – this means that any distributed transaction that waits for an enqueue for 60 seconds will be picked off by a sniper, similar to the standard deadlock detection after 3 seconds.
  2. The 1-in-10 second ASH samples in DBA_HIST_ACTIVE_SESS_HISTORY show clear waits on “enq: TX – allocate ITL entry”
  3. These same ASH samples show one particular sql id as being involved in the ITL waits.
  4. This particular sql id is a DELETE on a single table, no triggers, no on delete cascade referential integrity.

Sounds easy right?

But…

  1. V$SEGMENT_STATISTICS and DBA_HIST_SEG_STAT show 0 ITL waits for the segment/s related to the DELETE sql id above.
  2. In the ASH data, for the event “enq: TX – allocate ITL entry”, the CURRENT_OBJ# column indicates a variety of objects that might show ITL waits under concurrent DML but, again, all unrelated to the sql id identified by ASH.

So…

Time for some theories:

  1. ASH could be misleading us about the sql ids and/or
  2. ASH could be misleading about current_obj# and/or
  3. If our enqueue times out because of the distributed lock timeout, then perhaps the ITL wait is not recorded – i.e. segment stats are misleading.

Theories about ASH being misleading under certain circumstances are incredibly convoluted to test but, as far as I am concerned, even up to the latest 11gR2 this is a known known. There are certain values that are not cleared out or not recorded properly or disappear under certain conditions.

But perhaps we can test theory 3 relatively easily?

I like recycling – I’m going to reuse Randolf Geist’s ITL test case here.

SQL> get itl_case.sql
  1  create table t1 (c1 varchar2(1336)) pctfree 10;
  2  insert into t1 values ('a');
  3  insert into t1 values ('b');
  4  insert into t1 values ('c');
  5  insert into t1 values ('d');
  6  insert into t1 values ('e');
  7  insert into t1 values ('f');
  8  commit;
  9  update t1 set c1 = rpad(c1, 1335, c1) where length(c1) = 1;
 10* commit;
 11  .
SQL> @itl_case

Table created.
1 row created.
1 row created.
1 row created.
1 row created.
1 row created.
1 row created.
Commit complete.
6 rows updated.
Commit complete.

SQL>

Now I’m going to delete some rows across three sessions.
The first two session simple uncommitted deletes. The third will do a select over a db link in order to start the distributed transaction followed by the same simple delete.

First session – delete some rows and leave uncommitted so the ITL cannot be cleared:

SQL_SESS1>select distinct sid from v$mystat;

       SID
----------
      2056

SQL_SESS1>delete from t1 where c1 like 'a%';

1 row deleted.

SQL_SESS1>

Second session – delete some rows and leave uncommitted so the ITL cannot be cleared:

SQL_SESS2>select distinct sid from v$mystat;

       SID
----------
      2126

1 row selected.

SQL_SESS2>select to_char(sysdate,'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI') from dual;

TO_CHAR(SYSDATE,'
-----------------
01-NOV-2012 23:32

1 row selected.

SQL_SESS2>delete from t1 where c1 like 'b%';

1 row deleted.

SQL_SESS2>

Finally – third session – try to delete some rows within a distributed transaction:

SQL_SESS3>select distinct sid from v$mystat;

       SID
----------
      1884

1 row selected.

SQL_SESS3>select 1 from dual@mydba;

         1
----------
         1

1 row selected.

SQL_SESS3>delete from t1 where c1 like 'c%';
delete from t1 where c1 like 'c%'
*
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-02049: timeout: distributed transaction waiting for lock


SQL_SESS3>

Right, so what does ASH tell us about what happened?

SQL_SESS2>l
  1  select to_char(sample_time,'DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS'), sql_id, event, blocking_session, current_obj#
  2  from   v$active_Session_history
  3  where  event = 'enq: TX - allocate ITL entry'
  4  and    sample_time >= to_date('01-NOV-2012 23:32','DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI')
  5* order  by sample_time desc
SQL_SESS2>/

TO_CHAR(SAMPLE_TIME, SQL_ID        EVENT                          BLOCKING_SESSION CURRENT_OBJ#
-------------------- ------------- ------------------------------ ---------------- ------------
01-NOV-2012 23:35:14 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:13 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:12 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:11 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:10 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:09 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:08 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:07 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:06 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:05 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:04 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:03 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:02 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:01 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:35:00 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:59 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:58 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:57 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:56 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:55 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:54 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:53 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:52 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:51 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:50 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:49 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:48 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:47 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:46 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:45 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:44 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:43 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:42 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:41 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:40 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:39 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:38 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:37 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:36 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:35 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:34 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:33 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:32 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:31 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:30 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:29 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:28 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:27 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:26 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:25 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:24 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:23 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:22 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:21 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:20 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:19 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:18 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:17 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:16 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2126           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:15 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2056           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:14 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2056           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:13 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2056           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:12 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2056           -1
01-NOV-2012 23:34:11 430xqxrrucgc5 enq: TX - allocate ITL entry               2056           -1

71 rows selected.

Elapsed: 00:00:00.04
SQL_SESS2>

So, we are reporting wait event “enq: TX – allocate ITL entry” which was the aim.

And look at column current_obj# – seems perhaps that it is not set properly for this wait event (even though my rows in my real world example were not -1)

Sql id 430xqxrrucgc5 is my delete statement so that is bang on the money.

Finally, what do segment statistics say about ITL waits for this object t1?

SQL_SESS3>l
  1  select statistic_name, value
  2  from   v$segment_statistics
  3  where  object_name = 'T1'
  4* and    statistic_name = 'ITL waits'
SQL_SESS3>/

STATISTIC_NAME                                                        VALUE
---------------------------------------------------------------- ----------
ITL waits                                                                 0

1 row selected.

SQL_SESS3>

Because the statement was sniped by the distributed transaction timeout, the segment ITL statistics are not incremented and so these (and AWRs snaps thereof) miss the significance.

A good point made by Coskan is that I did not include the blocking session information in my ASH output.

Simply this is because it made the output too wide.

One of the sessions is reported as blocker but in reality there may be many blockers – it’s as many as there are ITL slots.

Also, depending on how many sessions are waiting, you may find that your blocked statement is unlucky and gets superceded by other sessions who get the ITL just through good timing of when they tried to get the enqueue. This is what was happening in my particular situation where an unlucky session was blocked for 1 minute – up to the distributed lock timeout – by a variety of blockers who at other times in that minute were busy doing other stuff not all waiting on this enqueue.

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