Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is PGA

Overview of the Program Global Area

Oracle Database allocates a program global area (PGA) for each server process. The PGA is used to process SQL statements and to hold logon and other session information. For the purposes of memory management, the collection of all PGAs is known as the instance PGA. Using an initialization parameter, you set the size of the instance PGA, and the database distributes memory to individual PGAs as needed.


Background processes also allocate their own PGAs. This discussion focuses on server process PGAs only.
This section contains the following topics:

Content of the PGA

The content of the PGA memory varies, depending on whether or not the instance is running the shared server option. Generally speaking, the PGA memory is divided into the following areas:

a)Session Memory
b)Private SQL Area

Session Memory
Session memory is the memory allocated to hold a session's variables (logon information) and other information related to the session. For a shared server, the session memory is shared and not private.

Private SQL Area
The private SQL area contains data such as bind variable values, query execution state information, and query execution work areas. Each session that issues a SQL statement has a private SQL area. Each user that submits the same SQL statement has his or her own private SQL area that uses a single shared SQL area. Thus, many private SQL areas can be associated with the same shared SQL area.

The location of a private SQL area depends on the type of connection established for a session. If a session is connected through a dedicated server, private SQL areas are located in the server process's PGA. However, if a session is connected through a shared server, part of the private SQL area is kept in the SGA.

This section includes the following topics:

a)Cursors and SQL Areas
b)Private SQL Area Components
c)SQL Work Areas

Cursors and SQL Areas
The application developer of an Oracle Database precompiler program or OCI program can explicitly open cursors, or handles to specific private SQL areas, and use them as a named resource throughout the execution of the program. Recursive cursors that Oracle Database issues implicitly for some SQL statements also use shared SQL areas.

The management of private SQL areas is the responsibility of the user process. The allocation and deallocation of private SQL areas depends largely on which application tool you are using, although the number of private SQL areas that a user process can allocate is always limited by the initialization parameter OPEN_CURSORS. The default value of this parameter is 50.

A private SQL area continues to exist until the corresponding cursor is closed or the statement handle is freed. Although Oracle Database frees the run-time area after the statement completes, the persistent area remains waiting. Application developers close all open cursors that will not be used again to free the persistent area and to minimize the amount of memory required for users of the application.

Private SQL Area Components
The private SQL area of a cursor is itself divided into two areas whose lifetimes are different:

The persistent area—This area contains bind variable values. It is freed only when the cursor is closed.

The runtime area—Oracle Database creates this area as the first step of an execute request. It contains the following structures:

Query execution state information

For example, for a full table scan, this area contains information on the progress of the scan

SQL work areas

These areas are allocated as needed for memory-intensive operations like sorting or hash-joins.

For DML, the run-time area is freed when the statement finishes running. For queries, it is freed after all rows are fetched or the query is canceled.

SQL Work Areas

SQL work areas are allocated to support memory-intensive operators such as the following:

Sort-based operators (order by, group-by, rollup, window function)


Bitmap merge

Bitmap create

For example, a sort operator uses a work area (sometimes called the sort area) to perform the in-memory sort of a set of rows. Similarly, a hash-join operator uses a work area (also called the hash area) to build a hash table from its left input. If the amount of data to be processed by these two operators does not fit into a work area, the input data is divided into smaller pieces. This enables some data pieces to be processed in memory while the rest are spilled to temporary disk storage to be processed later. Although bitmap operators do not spill to disk when their associated work area is too small, their complexity is inversely proportional to the size of their work area. Thus, these operators run faster with larger work area.

The size of a work area can be controlled and tuned. The database automatically tunes work area sizes when automatic PGA memory management is enabled. See "Overview of Memory Management Methods" for more information.

Generally, bigger work areas can significantly improve the performance of a particular operator at the cost of higher memory consumption. Optimally, the size of a work area is big enough to accommodate the input data and auxiliary memory structures allocated by its associated SQL operator. If not, response time increases, because part of the input data must be spilled to temporary disk storage. In the extreme case, if the size of a work area is far too small compared to the input data size, multiple passes over the data pieces must be performed. This can dramatically increase the response time of the operator.

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