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Oracle 8i Internal Services: for Waits, Latches, Locks, and Memory [Paperback]

by Steve Adams
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 18, 1999 156592598X 978-1565925984 1

This concise book contains detailed information about Oracle internals -- information that's not readily available to Oracle customers. It lays a foundation for advanced performance tuning of the Oracle database. Based on Oracle8i release 8.1, the book describes many of the secrets of Oracle's internal services: data structures, algorithms, and undocumented Oracle system statistics. Main topics include:

  • Waits - how Oracle processes communicate via semaphores, and how to use the Oracle wait statistics to identify the source of performance problems.
  • Latches - how they keep multiple processes from inspecting protected data structures at the same time, and how to examine and control latch behavior and statistics.
  • Locks - how they work with latches to protect data structures (locks allow multiple sessions to share resources in some cases), and how locks affect performance. There is also a detailed discussion of instance locks, which are used in parallel server environments.
  • Memory - how Oracle uses memory (e.g., the various elements of the System Global Area), and how Oracle dynamically allocates and manages memory.

Oracle8i Internal Services is aimed especially at administrators and developers who need detailed internal information to do advanced performance tuning. The book will expand your repertoire of tuning solutions and troubleshooting techniques by explaining how you can use Oracle's hidden parameters and undocumented system statistics to best advantage.

NOTE: The author has collected the scripts he has developed for tuning and analysis into a toolkit (known as APT, for Advanced Performance Tuning). These scripts access the Oracle X$ tables directly and provide information not otherwise available. The scripts are available to readers for free from the O'Reilly web site.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Advanced performance tuning with Oracle involves unraveling the mysteries of the SQL database's inner workings. Oracle8i Internal Services for Waits, Latches, Locks, and Memory peels back several layers of the Oracle onion to reveal how things really work. While the author claims his quest to get to the bottom of Oracle still continues, this book is a snapshot of his current knowledge of the performance-critical internals.

The book's title tells the whole story about its content. It focuses on waits, latches, locks, and memory allocation because they have a dramatic effect on overall performance. Each of these topics is presented separately, with explanations of how each works under the hood and what can be done to optimize it. Although the title offers plenty of architectural explanation, a solid foundation into Oracle 8i release 8.1 (the version addressed by the author) is a prerequisite for understanding this text.

The presentation includes few diagrams. Instead, the author makes a special effort to list relevant Oracle parameters and their descriptions in tables, as well as examples of statistics that can be used in optimization. This is a guide for advanced administrators already on a solid footing with Oracle8i and offers plenty of insight into the crucial undocumented aspects of the relational database. --Stephen W. Plain

About the Author

Steve Adams runs a small consulting company, Ixora, that specializes in advanced Unix and Oracle performance tuning. He is based in Sydney, Australia, but also works remotely for clients in America and Europe. Steve is a regular contributor to various Oracle discussion forums on the Internet, where he is widely regarded as the leading performance expert. His experience with Oracle dates back to version 3 (1984). However, most of his work has been in Unix performance tuning. His interest in Oracle--and Oracle internals in particular--was rekindled when working as the Unix performance expert on a benchmark of an Oracle-based application in 1995. He found the challenge of understanding Oracle performance to be extremely demanding, and yet irresistible. Steve doesn't yet claim to have mastered the topic of Oracle performance, but he does have plenty of insight to share. He can be contacted directly at or via his company's web site at

Product Details

  • Paperback: 134 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (October 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156592598X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565925984
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on internal services! March 27, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In five years of being Oracle DBA I never had to tune databases on such level that I would have to know internals on the level described in this book; knowing what's really going on behind all those fancy statistics, using hidden parameters, events or X$ tables directly. I guess I was lucky so far. I think that this book is a must read for *any* DBA!
Having several books about tuning Oracle server on my bookshelf not a single one goes deeper in the explanation than this thiny one. We can only imagine and appreciate the time and knowledge that Steve Adams invested in this book.
One reminder to those of you who are searching for the definitive tuning guide ("do that, change that..."); Oracle8i Internal Services is not about that, here is what author wrote in the preface ..."My advanced Oracle performance-tuning book is still a dream. This little book is something else: an introduction to Oracle internals. It builds the foundation necessary for advanced performance tuning..."
There is only one thing that this book badly need - pictures! So Steve if you're reading this please include some pictures in your second edition (I hope there would be one!).
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW! Heady stuff. Read it twice. October 16, 2001
I'll admit, this book made my head hurt the first time I read it, and I consider myself to be pretty well versed in Oracle. Steve does a fantastic job explaining some of the internal workings of the database. He dispells many of the "tuning" myths associated with locks and latches and touches on using Oracle's wait statistics, which has become a foundation for a new and better approach to tuning the database. If you are DBA that is interested at all in the internal workings of the database, or need a reference to help in your tuning efforts, get this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource for experienced DBAs March 30, 2001
An excellent, must-read book on internal waits for experienced DBAs and performance engineers. Some reviewers gripe that a lot of the information can be found in MetaLink - that is true, but you have to weed through a lot of disconnected discussions. I found this book very useful because it has great depth, is well organized and is a great springing board to further research into other sources - including MetaLink. Excellent work Steve. I can't wait for any follow-on books.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for Advanced Concepts February 9, 2000
I find this book to be very helpful diagnosing obscure errors as well as less defined parameters found in various v$ views and report.txt. Steve, has obviously worked very hard to provide useful information and guidance for those of us not privy to Oracle internals. Looking forward to the next edition.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUST READ for every DBA! May 5, 2000
An excellent, very concise book covering the internal mechanisms for locksand latches in Oracle8i. Written clearly and with the level of details that sufficient not only to clarify those otherwise arcane mechanisms of Oracle RDBMS but also to be of immediate practical use. I am a long time Oracle DBA (started with the version 4) and I still learned quite a few things from Steve Adams. Congratulations, Steve and keep up the good work!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Work! February 7, 2000
This is a well done and well written advanced book on tuning at the lowest level of Oracle. I highly recommend it for the advanced DBAs out there! Great job Steve!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ONLY book which speaks about Oracle's Internals October 7, 1999
By A Customer
This book is tragetted to readers who are interested in Advanced Performance Tuning. This speaks about what oracle does behind the doors. Its targetted to people who are interested in learning internals of Oracle database engine.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you don't know Steve Adams, oh baby November 12, 2002
Any sincere oracle Professional know the name of steve adams. Any expert on oracle pays a visit to his site. so think for a moment in silence and buy the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good look into Oracle internals
Yes, the book was written when Oracle 8i was around, but it is well worth the read even today.

Adams knows how Oracle works and explains the waits, latches and locks... Read more
Published on July 27, 2004 by Tatjana Injac
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for advanced tuning and trouble-shooting
Wait events are often the key to understanding 'what is going on' when Oracle performance problems occur during run time. Read more
Published on September 25, 2003 by Jason
5.0 out of 5 stars Focused on a single topic and covers it exceptionally well
Steve Adams has collected and assembled a compendium of facts about a difficult aspect of Oracle: waits, latches, locks and meemory. Read more
Published on July 2, 2001 by Mike Tarrani
2.0 out of 5 stars Superficial
This book does not really go too deep into Oracle internals. More information on the subject is available anyway from metalink or white papers. Read more
Published on January 12, 2001 by krishd
5.0 out of 5 stars The best oracle book I've ever read!
If you want to know about how oracle works, you have red the concepts manual and want to learn more, its the best book for you. Read more
Published on November 23, 2000 by Barto
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book on Oracle Internals - Never explained better
To research, test and explain such great detail of information that has never been done by anyone before explains the dedication, knowledge and experience of the author. Read more
Published on June 19, 2000 by Murali Vallath
1.0 out of 5 stars All theory, no meat
There is a lot of theory (really a lot of conjectures since none of the theories expounded have been documented by Oracle) in this book and no meat. Read more
Published on March 12, 2000 by Abed T. Benbrahim
2.0 out of 5 stars Not enough.
Not enough information ! It's only an overview, it doesn't goes enough deeper.
Published on March 7, 2000 by LANGE Francois.
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