Archive for the 'Oracle Automatic Memory Management' Category

Configuring Linux Hugepages for Oracle Database Is Just Too Difficult! Isn’t It? Part – I.

Allocating hugepages for Oracle Database on Linux can be tricky. The following is a short list of some of the common problems associated with faulty attempts to get things properly configured:

  1. Insufficient Hugepages.You can be short just a single 2MB hugepage at instance startup and Oracle will silently fall back to no hugepages. For instance, if an instance needs 10,000 hugepages but there are only 9,999 available at startup Oracle will create non-hugepages IPC shared memory and the 9,999 (x 2MB) is just wasted memory.
    1. Insufficient hugepages is an even more difficult situation when booting with _enable_NUMA_support=TRUE as partial hugepages backing is possible.
  2. Improper Permissions. Both limits.conf(5) memlock and the shell ulimit –l must accommodate the desired amount of locked memory.

In general, list item 1 above has historically been the most difficult to deal with—especially on systems hosting several instances of Oracle. Since there is no way to determine whether an existing segment of shared memory is backed with hugepages, diagnostics are in short supply. Oracle Database 11g Release 2 ( The fix for Oracle bugs 9195408 (unpublished) and 9931916 (published) is available in In a sort of fast forward to the past, the Linux port now supports an initialization parameter to force the instance to use hugepages for all segments or fail to boot. I recall initialization parameters on Unix ports back in the early 1990s that did just that. The initialization parameter is called use_large_pages and setting it to “only” results in the all or none scenario. This, by the way, addresses list item 1.1 above. That is, setting use_large_pages=only ensures an instance will not have some NUMA segments backed with hugepages and others without. Consider the following example. Here we see that use_large_pages is set to “only” and yet the system has only a very small number of hugepages allocated (800 == ~1.6GB). First I’ll boot the instance using an init.ora file that does not force hugepages and then move on to using the one that does. Note, this is

$ sqlplus '/ as sysdba'

SQL*Plus: Release Production on Tue Sep 28 08:10:36 2010

Copyright (c) 1982, 2010, Oracle.  All rights reserved.

Connected to an idle instance.

SQL> !grep -i huge /proc/meminfo
HugePages_Total:   800
HugePages_Free:    800
HugePages_Rsvd:      0
Hugepagesize:     2048 kB
SQL> !grep large_pages y.ora x.ora
SQL> startup force pfile=./x.ora
ORACLE instance started.

Total System Global Area 4.4363E+10 bytes
Fixed Size                  2242440 bytes
Variable`Size            1406199928 bytes
Database Buffers         4.2950E+10 bytes
Redo Buffers                4427776 bytes
Database mounted.
Database opened.
SQL> HOST date
Tue Sep 28 08:13:23 PDT 2010

SQL>  startup force pfile=./y.ora
ORA-27102: out of memory
Linux-x86_64 Error: 12: Cannot allocate memory

The user feedback is a trite ORA-27102. So the question is,  which memory cannot be allocated? Let’s take a look at the alert log:

Tue Sep 28 08:16:05 2010
Starting ORACLE instance (normal)
****************** Huge Pages Information *****************
Huge Pages memory pool detected (total: 800 free: 800)
DFLT Huge Pages allocation successful (allocated: 512)
Huge Pages allocation failed (free: 288 required: 10432)
Startup will fail as use_large_pages is set to "ONLY"
NUMA Huge Pages allocation on node (1) (allocated: 3)
Huge Pages allocation failed (free: 285 required: 10368)
Startup will fail as use_large_pages is set to "ONLY"
Huge Pages allocation failed (free: 285 required: 10368)
Startup will fail as use_large_pages is set to "ONLY"
NUMA Huge Pages allocation on node (1) (allocated: 192)
NUMA Huge Pages allocation on node (1) (allocated: 64)

That is good diagnostic information. It informs us that the variable portion of the SGA was successfully allocated and backed with hugepages. It just so happens that my variable SGA component is precisely sized to 1GB. That much is simple to understand. After creating the segment for the variable SGA component Oracle moves on to create the NUMA buffer pool segments. This is a 2-socket Nehalem EP system and Oracle allocates from the Nth NUMA node and works back to node 0. In this case the first buffer pool creation attempt is for node 1 (socket 1). However, there were insufficient hugepages as indicated in the alert log. In the following example I allocated  another arbitrarily insufficient number of hugepages and tried to start an instance with use_large_pages=only. This particular insufficient hugepages scenario allows us to see more interesting diagnostics:

SQL>  !grep -i huge /proc/meminfo
HugePages_Total: 12000
HugePages_Free:  12000
HugePages_Rsvd:      0
Hugepagesize:     2048 kB

SQL> startup force pfile=./y.ora
ORA-27102: out of memory
Linux-x86_64 Error: 12: Cannot allocate memory

…and, the alert log:

Starting ORACLE instance (normal)
****************** Huge Pages Information *****************
Huge Pages memory pool detected (total: 12000 free: 12000)
DFLT Huge Pages allocation successful (allocated: 512)
NUMA Huge Pages allocation on node (1) (allocated: 10432)
Huge Pages allocation failed (free: 1056 required: 10368)
Startup will fail as use_large_pages is set to "ONLY"
Huge Pages allocation failed (free: 1056 required: 10368)
Startup will fail as use_large_pages is set to "ONLY"
Huge Pages allocation failed (free: 1056 required: 5184)
Startup will fail as use_large_pages is set to "ONLY"
NUMA Huge Pages allocation on node (0) (allocated: 704)
NUMA Huge Pages allocation on node (0) (allocated: 320)

In this example we see 12,000 hugepages was sufficient to back the variable SGA component and only 1 of the NUMA buffer pools (remember this is Nehalem EP with OS boot string numa=on).


In my opinion, this is a must-set parameter if you need hugepages. With initialization parameters like use_large_pages, configuring hugepages for Oracle Database is getting a lot simpler.

Next In Series

  1. “[…] if you need hugepages”
  2. More on hugepages and NUMA
  3. Any pitfalls I find.

More Hugepages Articles

Link to Part II in this series: Configuring Linux Hugepages for Oracle Database Is Just Too Difficult! Isn’t It? Part – II. Link to Part III in this series: Configuring Linux Hugepages for Oracle Database is Just Too Difficult! Isn’t It? Part – III. And more: Quantifying hugepages Memory Savings with Oracle Database 11g Little Things Doth Crabby Make – Part X. Posts About Linux Hugepages Makes Some Crabby It Seems. Also, Words About Sizing Hugepages. Little Things Doth Crabby Make – Part IX. Sometimes You Have To Really, Really Want Your Hugepages Support For Oracle Database 11g. Little Things Doth Crabby Make – Part VIII. Hugepage Support for Oracle Database 11g Sometimes Means Using The ipcrm Command. Ugh. Oracle Database 11g Automatic Memory Management – Part I.

Databases are the Contents of Storage. Future Oracle DBAs Can Administer More. Why Would They Want To?

I’ve taken the following quote from this Oracle whitepaper about low cost storage:

A Database Storage Grid does not depend on flawless execution from its component storage arrays. Instead, it is designed to tolerate the failure of individual storage arrays.

In spite of the fact that the Resilient Low-Cost Storage Initiative program was decommissioned along with the Oracle Storage Compatability Program, the concepts discussed in that paper should be treated as a barometer of the future of storage for Oracle databases-with two exceptions: 1) Fibre Channel is not the future and 2) there’s more to “the database” than just the database. What do I mean by point 2? Well, with features like SecureFiles, we aren’t just talking rows and columns any more and I doubt (but I don’t know) that SecureFiles is the end of that trend.

Future Oracle DBAs
Oracle DBAs of the future become even more critical to the enterprise since the current “stove-pipe” style IT organization will invariably change. In today’s IT shop, the application team talks to the DBA team who talks to the Sys Admin team who tlks to the Storage Admin team. All this to get an application to store data on disk through a Oracle database. I think that will be the model that remains for lightly-featured products like MySQL and SQL Server, but Oracle aims for more. Yes, I’m only whetting your appetite but I will flesh out this topic over time. Here’s food for thought: Oracle DBAs should stop thinking their role in the model stops at the contents of the storage.

So while Chen Shapira may be worried that DBAs will get obviated, I’d predict instead that Oracle technology will become more full-featured at the storage level. Unlike the stock market where past performance is no indicator of future performance, Oracle has consistently brought to market features that were once considered too “low-level” to be in the domain of a Database vendor.

The IT industry is going through consolidation. I think we’ll see Enterprise-level IT roles go through some consolidation over time as well. DBAs who can wear more than “one hat” will be more valuable to the enterprise. Instead of thinking about “encroachment” from the low-end database products, think about your increased value proposition with Oracle features that enable this consolidation of IT roles-that is, if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly.

How to Win Friends and Influence People
Believe me, my positions on Fibre Channel have prompted some fairly vile emails in my inbox-especially the posts in my Manly Man SAN series. Folks, I don’t “have it out”, as they say, for the role of Storage Administrators. I just believe that the Oracle DBAs of today are on the cusp of being in control of more of the stack. Like I said, it seems today’s DBA responsibilities stop at the contents of the storage-a role that fits the Fibre Channel paradigm quite well, but a role that makes little sense to me. I think Oracle DBAs are capable of more and will have more success when they have more control. Having said that, I encourage any of you DBAs who would love to be in more control of the storage to look at my my post about the recent SAN-free Oracle Data Warehouse. Read that post and give considerable thought to the model it discusses. And give even more consideration to the cost savings it yields.

The Voices in My Head
Now my alter ego (who is a DBA, whereas I’m not) is asking, “Why would I want more control at the storage level?” I’ll try to answer him in blog posts, but perhaps some of you DBAs can share experiences where performance or availability problems were further exacerbated by finger pointing between you and the Storage Administration group.

Note to Storage Administrators
Please, please, do not fill my email box with vitriolic messages about the harmony today’s typical stove-pipe IT organization creates. I’m not here to start battles.

Let me share a thought that might help this whole thread make more sense. Let’s recall the days when an Oracle DBA and a System Administrator together (yet alone) were able to provide Oracle Database connectivity and processing for thousands of users without ever talking to a “Storage Group.” Do you folks remember when that was? I do. It was the days of Direct Attach Storage (DAS). The problem with that model was that it only took until about the late 1990s to run out of connectivity-enter the Fibre Channel SAN. And since SANs are spokes attached to hubs of storage systems (SAN arrays), we wound up with a level of indirection between the Oracle server and its blocks on disk. Perhaps there are still some power DBAs that remember how life was with large numbers of DAS drives (hundreds). Perhaps they’ll recall the level of control they had back then. On the other hand, perhaps I’m going insane, but riddle me this (and feel free to quote me elsewhere):

Why is it that the industry needed SANs to get more than a few hundred disks attached to a high-end Oracle system in the late 1990s and yet today’s Oracle databases often reside on LUNs comprised of a handful of drives in a SAN?

The very thought of that twist of fate makes me feel like a fish flopping around on a hot sidewalk. Do you remember my post about capacity versus spindles? Oh, right, SAN cache makes that all better. Uh huh.

Am I saying the future is DAS? No. Can I tell you now exactly what model I’m alluding to? Not yet, but I enjoy putting out a little food for thought.

Oracle11g Automatic Memory Management – Part II. Automatically Stupid?

Oracle Database 10g Automatic Memory Management (AMM) might have been this smart, but I don’t know. I’m playing a bit with Oracle Database 11g AMM and find that so far it is a pretty smart cookie-at least in the sense I’m blogging about in this entry.

Automatic So Long As You Do Everything Correctly 
One thing I always hate is a feature that causes the server to not function at all or at some degraded state if the configuration is not perfect for the feature. In my mind, if something is called automatic it should be automatic. Like I say, don’t make me kneel on peach pits to benefit from an automatic feature. So how about a quick test.

I’ve got 11g x86 on a Proliant DL380 fit with 4GB RAM. As I mention in this blog entry, Oracle uses memory mapped files in /dev/shm for the SGA when you use 11g AMM. On a 4GB system, the default /dev/shm size is about half of physical memory. I want to set up a larger, custom size and see if 11g AMM will try to cram 10lbs of rocks into a 5lb bag.

# umount /dev/shm
# mount -t tmpfs shmfs -o size=3584m /dev/shm
# df /dev/shm
Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
shmfs                  3670016         0   3670016   0% /dev/shm

There, I now have 3.5GB of space for /dev/shm. I don’t want to use that much because leaving Linux with .5GB for the kernel will likely cause some chaos. I want to see if 11g AMM is smart enough to allocate just enough to fill the virtual address space of the Oracle processes. So, I set AMM larger than I know will fit in the address space of a 32-bit linux processes:

SQL> !grep MEMORY amm.ora

So what happened? Well, I haven’t relocated the SGA so I shouldn’t expect more than about 2GB. I wouldn’t expect more than about 1.7GB for buffers. Did AMM try to over-allocate? Did it get nervous and under-allocate? Did it tell me to help it be more automatic through some configuration task I need to perform? Let’s see:

SQL> startup pfile=./amm.ora
ORACLE instance started.

Total System Global Area 2276634624 bytes
Fixed Size                  1300068 bytes
Variable Size             570427804 bytes
Database Buffers         1694498816 bytes
Redo Buffers               10407936 bytes
Database mounted.
Database opened.

Nice, AMM was smart enough to pile in about 1.6GB of buffers and the appropriate amount of variable region to go with it. A look at DBWR’s address space shows that the first 16MB /dev/shm granule file (my term) was mapped in at virtual address 512MB. The last 16MB segment fit in at 2688MB. The top of that last granule is 2704MB. If I subtract off the sum of 2276634624 (show sga) + 512MB (the attach address) I’m left with a little over 20MB that are most likley Oracle rounding up for page alignment and other purposes.

# pmap `pgrep -f dbw` | grep 'dev.shm' | head -1
20000000      4K r-xs-  /dev/shm/ora_bench1_1441803_0
# pmap `pgrep -f dbw` | grep 'dev.shm' | tail -1
a8000000  16384K rwxs-  /dev/shm/ora_bench1_1507341_7

I don’t really expect folks to be running Oracle in production on 32bit Linux servers in modern times, but I was pleasantly surprised to see 11g AMM is smart enough to poke around until it filled the address space. I asked for more than it could give me (MEMORY_TARGET=3500M) and instead of failing and suggesting I request less automatic memory, it did the right thing. I like that.


I work for Amazon Web Services. The opinions I share in this blog are my own. I'm *not* communicating as a spokesperson for Amazon. In other words, I work at Amazon, but this is my own opinion.

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All content is © Kevin Closson and "Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage", 2006-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Closson and Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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