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Oracle Times Ten data caching

Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson

Most Oracle professionals recognize the huge benefits of RAM data caching, a techniques that can improve data access speeds by up to 300x when compared to platter-based disk.  RAM can also support blistering table insert speeds of over a half million rows per second.

The web site is a great way to see if your Oracle database is I/O-bound and you can simply paste-in a STATSPACK or AWR report and see a detailed I/O analysis.  Oracle's Time Ten tool is the latest data caching approach in Oracle

There are several major approaches to RAM data caching today:

Solid State Disk data caching

RAM-SAN can hypercharge an I/O-bound Oracle database overnight, speeding-up I/O operations.  See the book "Oracle Solid State Disk Tuning: High Performance Oracle Tuning with RAM disk" for benchmarks and tips on using SSD. 

SSD is also very popular on Oracle RAC databases, where the RAC architecture is ideal for RAM disks.  See the book "Oracle RAC & Grid Tuning with Solid State Disk: Expert Secrets for High Performance Clustered Grid Computing" for details on how to apply RAM disk to Oracle RAC databases.

Large RAM Buffer Data Caching

Many Oracle professionals choose to use a very large db_cache_size, and most of the recent world-record TPC benchmarks use Oracle data buffers in excess of 50 gigabytes, and one Oracle benchmark that used over a terabyte of RAM.  For details, see the book "Database Benchmarking: Practical methods for Oracle":

Oracle Times Ten data caching

Oracle acquired the Times Ten tool as a third alternative to data caching for high-speed data access. 

Jonathan Gennick has a great article on the Oracle Times Ten tool for caching large volumes of data.

When a data store is first opened, the entire contents of the data store are read into memory from the checkpoint file. Subsequent INSERT, DELETE, SELECT, UPDATE, and other database operations take place in memory.

Data store changes from those operations are periodically and asynchronously written to the on-disk checkpoint file. When the data store is shut down, any remaining unwritten changes are written to the checkpoint file before the data store is closed.

Time Ten Architecture (Source: Oracle Corporation)

Gennick also notes that The Times Ten RAM caching is not a Silver Bullet.

Because Oracle TimesTen derives its performance benefits from keeping an entire data store in memory, why not simply run Oracle Database and configure the buffer cache to be large enough to hold an entire database in memory? Wouldn't Oracle Database then perform just as well as Oracle TimesTen? This is a good and fair question, worthy of some attention.

Oracle TimesTen was designed from the ground up as an in-memory database. There are no logical I/Os in the sense that there are in Oracle Database. There are no database blocks. There is no buffer cache. Index entries, rather than containing logical row IDs, point directly to the memory locations where their target rows can be found. Going from an index entry to a row in Oracle TimesTen requires the simple dereferencing of a pointer. When using the TimesTen Data Manager 6.0 driver, your application has direct access to the memory holding the data; no costly context switches are needed.

Gennick concludes that TimesTen is great when response time is a primary consideration:

Combined with sound database and application design, the in-memory performance of Oracle TimesTen enables time- and mission-critical database-backed applications. When minimizing microseconds can save money or lives, Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database can deliver.

For more details on Oracle Silver Bullets, see the book "Oracle Silver Bullets", by Rampant TechPress.


If you like Oracle tuning, see the book "Oracle Tuning: The Definitive Reference", with 950 pages of tuning tips and scripts. 

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.



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