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This post is about a change in how the time is measured for the event ‘log file parallel write’. This is important for the performance tuning of any change activity in an Oracle database, because with the default commit settings, a foreground session that commits changes waits in the wait event ‘log file sync’, which is a wait on logwriter activity, for which the wait event ‘log file parallel write’ always has been the indicator of the time spend on IO.

Log file sync
First things first: a foreground session normally waits on the wait event ‘log file sync’ when it commits waiting for its change vectors to be written to the online redologfile(s) by the logwriter. It is wrong to always assume a ‘log file sync’ will be present. If, somehow, the logwriter manages to increase the ON DISK SCN to or beyond the foreground session’s commit SCN, there will be no ‘log file sync’ wait event.

I found the absence of the ‘log file sync’ wait event by artificially slowing the committing session down. However, with the improvements in parallelism in the Oracle code, and even more with the improvements on the hardware layer for lowering write latency (especially with persistent memory), this might be a situation that is actually visible in the near future. This is true for at least version 11.2.0.4 and higher (probably earlier too, but these are versions that I verified).

Log file parallel write
However, this post is about the event that in a lot of cases is the culprit for the ‘log file sync’ time: it’s about the ‘log file parallel write’ wait event, which takes place in the logwriter (when the logwriter itself writes, it could delegate that to the logwriter worker processes, LGnn), which normally would be measured by Oracle database tuners to validate logwriter IO latency in case of foreground sessions showing high ‘log file sync’ waits indicating waiting on the logwriter.

I was looking at the logwriter code path using the ‘debug trace’ tool from intel pin tools and used Tanel Poder’s snapper using begin and end snapshots on the logwriter process on Linux, non ASM, Oracle 19.5. I put the logwriter into single logwriter mode (“_use_single_log_writer”=true) and performed redo, which is bound to be picked up by the logwriter.

There I noticed the statistics indicated a write to have been taking place, whilst there was no ‘log file parallel write’ wait event. Weird… So I dug deeper and looked at the functions taking place. These are the functions that I found: https://gitlab.com/snippets/1926207

The important bits are:
– In the function ksfdaio() the IO request is submitted:
ksfdaio>ksfdgo>ksfd_skgfqio>skgfqio>skgfr_lio_listio64>io_submit
– And in the function ksfdblock() the IO request result is read (“reaped”):
ksfdblock>ksfdpoll>ksfdwtio>skgfrwat>skgfrliopo>io_getevents

But no wait event is called *at all!*

This is a clear change from earlier versions, where the logwriter write would always yield a ‘log file parallel write’ wait event. But when did this change happen? To answer that question, I installed version 12.1.0.2 (no patches) to look at the code path and found: https://gitlab.com/snippets/1926211

The important bits are:
– The wait interface is invoked: kslwtbctx()
– In the function ksfdgo() the IO request is submitted:
ksfd_sbio>ksfdgo>ksfd_skgfqio>skgfqio>skgfr_lio_listio64>io_submit
– And in the function ksfdwtio() to IO request result is read (“reaped”):
ksfd_sbio>ksfdwtio>skgfrwat>skgfospo>skgfrliopo>io_getevents
– And the wait interface is ended: kslwtectx()

Ah! So a clear change! So when did this change happen? I installed 12.2.0.1 and found the same ‘waiting’ codepath, then installed 18.3, and found the waiting codepath. So the change probably happened in Oracle 19! So I installed 19.3, and found the waiting codepath once again!! So was it a change in PSU 19.4 or 19.5? I installed 19.5, and found the waiting codepath too.

O.M.G. Why am I seeing different behaviour between two databases on the exact same version? Well, I set some undocumented parameters, so I replicated these in my newly installed database…and it didn’t change.

What else is different? Well…one is a multi-tenant database, and the other isn’t…but surely that doesn’t change the IO codepath?? Of course this is easy to check, so I dropped the non-CDB database and created a CDB one, and…it now showed the same “non waiting” codepath.

So, apparently, using the oracle database in multi-tenant mode changes the IO codepath behaviour. I checked the codepath going down in versions, and it turns out this change appeared in 12.2.0.1.0, so essentially in Oracle 12.2 (Oracle 18 and 19 are actually Oracle 12.2.0.2 and Oracle 12.2.0.3). To be clear on this: I didn’t find this change in 12.1.0.2.

Does this mean the wait events ‘log file parallel write’ does not show up at all? No, if the call io_getevents after io_submit does not return all submitted IOs, it must wait for it, and at that point invoke the wait interface and then go into a blocking io_getevents call, so the actual waiting is timed. This is shown in this snippet: https://gitlab.com/snippets/1926212

This shows ksfdblock>ksfdpoll>ksfdwtio>skgfrwat>skgfrliopo>io_getevents, which returns 0 (what means that it didn’t found any IOs in the completion queue), which then returns up to the ksfdpoll function, invokes the wait interface, kslwtbctx, and then dives to io_getevents again, but now in blocking mode to wait for the IO.

I also replayed the tests on ASM, which shows the exact same (non-)waiting behaviour.

Conclusion
For Oracle versions 12.1.0.2 up to 19.5, the wait event ‘log file parallel write’ includes both the submission of the IO request (io_submit call) and the waiting for the submitted IOs to finish (io_getevents call). This means the waiting time of the event in this case is the total latency of the IO request, including operating system processing.

Starting from version 12.2, only if the multi-tenant option is used, this is changed, and the wait event ‘log file parallel write’ only is shown if the submitted IOs are not available after they are submitted, and thus the logwriter process has to wait for them. If the wait is shown, the time in the event is the actual waiting time for the IOs to finish from the perspective of the logwriter process, not the IO latency time.

Of course if you have multiple log groups on disks with different latencies, this wait event waits for all IOs to finish, which means it times the slowest IO of all submitted IOs.

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