system global area (SGA) is a group of shared memory structures that contain data and control information for one Oracle database instance. If multiple users are concurrently connected to the same instance, then the data in the instance’s SGA is shared among the users. Consequently, the SGA is sometimes called theshared global area.

An SGA and Oracle processes constitute an Oracle instance. Oracle automatically allocates memory for an SGA when you start an instance, and the operating system reclaims the memory when you shut down the instance. Each instance has its own SGA.

The SGA is read/write. All users connected to a multiple-process database instance can read information contained within the instance’s SGA, and several processes write to the SGA during execution of Oracle.

The SGA contains the following data structures:

  • Database buffer cache
  • Redo log buffer
  • Shared pool
  • Java pool
  • Large pool (optional)
  • Data dictionary cache
  • Other miscellaneous information

Part of the SGA contains general information about the state of the database and the instance, which the background processes need to access; this is called the fixed SGA. No user data is stored here. The SGA also includes information communicated between processes, such as locking information.

If the system uses shared server architecture, then the request and response queues and some contents of the PGA are in the SGA.

Dynamic SGA

With the dynamic SGA infrastructure, the size of the buffer cache, the shared pool, the large pool, and the process-private memory can be changed without shutting down the instance.

Dynamic SGA allows Oracle to set, at run time, limits on how much virtual memory Oracle uses for the SGA. Oracle can start instances underconfigured and allow the instance to use more memory by growing the SGA components, up to a maximum of SGA_MAX_SIZE. If SGA_MAX_SIZE specified in the initialization parameter file is less than the sum of all components specified or defaulted at initialization time, then the setting in the initialization parameter file is ignored.

For optimal performance in most systems, the entire SGA should fit in real memory. If it does not, and if virtual memory is used to store parts of it, then overall database system performance can decrease dramatically, because portions of the SGA are paged (written to and read from disk) by the operating system. The amount of memory dedicated to all shared areas in the SGA also has performance impact.

Parameter Description
DB_CACHE_SIZE The size of the cache of standard blocks.
LOG_BUFFER The number of bytes allocated for the redo log buffer.
SHARED_POOL_SIZE The size in bytes of the area devoted to shared SQL and PL/SQL statements.
LARGE_POOL_SIZE The size of the large pool; the default is 0.

Database Buffer Cache

The database buffer cache is the portion of the SGA that holds copies of data blocks read from datafiles. All user processes concurrently connected to the instance share access to the database buffer cache.

The database buffer cache and the shared SQL cache are logically segmented into multiple sets. This organization into multiple sets reduces contention on multiprocessor systems.

Organization of the Database Buffer Cache

The buffers in the cache are organized in two lists: the write list and the least recently used (LRU) list. The write list holds dirty buffers, which contain data that has been modified but has not yet been written to disk. The LRU list holds free buffers, pinned buffers, and dirty buffers that have not yet been moved to the write list.Free buffers do not contain any useful data and are available for use. Pinned buffers are currently being accessed.

When an Oracle process accesses a buffer, the process moves the buffer to the most recently used (MRU) end of the LRU list. As more buffers are continually moved to the MRU end of the LRU list, dirty buffers age toward the LRU end of the LRU list.

The first time an Oracle user process requires a particular piece of data, it searches for the data in the database buffer cache. If the process finds the data already in the cache (a cache hit), it can read the data directly from memory. If the process cannot find the data in the cache (a cache miss), it must copy the data block from a datafile on disk into a buffer in the cache before accessing the data. Accessing data through a cache hit is faster than data access through a cache miss.

Checking The Cache Hit Ratio

Oracle maintains statistics of buffer cache hits and misses. The following query will show you the overall buffer cache hit ratio for the entire instance since it was started:
SELECT (P1.value + P2.value – P3.value) / (P1.value + P2.value)     FROM   v$sysstat P1, v$sysstat P2, v$sysstat P3     WHERE = ‘db block gets’     AND = ‘consistent gets’     AND = ‘physical reads’

Before reading a data block into the cache, the process must first find a free buffer. The process searches the LRU list, starting at the least recently used end of the list. The process searches either until it finds a free buffer or until it has searched the threshold limit of buffers.

If the user process finds a dirty buffer as it searches the LRU list, it moves that buffer to the write list and continues to search. When the process finds a free buffer, it reads the data block from disk into the buffer and moves the buffer to the MRU end of the LRU list.

If an Oracle user process searches the threshold limit of buffers without finding a free buffer, the process stops searching the LRU list and signals the DBW0 background process to write some of the dirty buffers to disk.

The LRU Algorithm and Full Table Scans

When the user process is performing a full table scan, it reads the blocks of the table into buffers and puts them on the LRU end (instead of the MRU end) of the LRU list. This is because a fully scanned table usually is needed only briefly, so the blocks should be moved out quickly to leave more frequently used blocks in the cache.

You can control this default behavior of blocks involved in table scans on a table-by-table basis. To specify that blocks of the table are to be placed at the MRU end of the list during a full table scan, use the CACHE clause when creating or altering a table or cluster. You can specify this behavior for small lookup tables or large static historical tables to avoid I/O on subsequent accesses of the table.

Size of the Database Buffer Cache

Oracle supports multiple block size in a database. This is the default block size–the block size used for the system tablespace. You specify the standard block size by setting the parameter DB_BLOCK_SIZE. Legitimate values are from 2K to 32K.

The sizes and numbers of non-standard block size buffers are specified by the following parameters:

  • DB_2K_CACHE_SIZE (used with tablespace block size of 2k)
  • DB_4K_CACHE_SIZE (used with tablespace block size of 4k)
  • DB_8K_CACHE_SIZE (used with tablespace block size of 8k)
  • DB_16K_CACHE_SIZE (used with tablespace block size of 16k)
  • DB_32K_CACHE_SIZE (used with tablespace block size of 32k)

Each parameter specifies the size of the cache for the corresponding block size.

Multiple Buffer Pools

You can configure the database buffer cache with separate buffer pools that either keep data in the buffer cache or make the buffers available for new data immediately after using the data blocks. Particular schema objects (tables, clusters, indexes, and partitions) can then be assigned to the appropriate buffer pool to control the way their data blocks age out of the cache.

  • The KEEP buffer pool retains the schema object’s data blocks in memory.
  • The RECYCLE buffer pool eliminates data blocks from memory as soon as they are no longer needed.
  • The DEFAULT buffer pool contains data blocks from schema objects that are not assigned to any buffer pool, as well as schema objects that are explicitly assigned to the DEFAULT pool.

The initialization parameters that configure the KEEP and RECYCLE buffer pools are DB_KEEP_CACHE_SIZE and DB_RECYCLE_CACHE_SIZE.

Redo Log Buffer

The redo log buffer is a circular buffer in the SGA that holds information about changes made to the database. This information is stored in redo entries. Redo entries contain the information necessary to reconstruct, or redo, changes made to the database by INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, CREATE, ALTER, or DROP operations. Redo entries are used for database recovery, if necessary.

Redo entries are copied by Oracle server processes from the user’s memory space to the redo log buffer in the SGA. The redo entries take up continuous, sequential space in the buffer. The background process LGWR writes the redo log buffer to the active online redo log file (or group of files) on disk.

The contents of this buffer are flushed:

  • Every three seconds
  • Whenever someone commits a transaction
  • When its gets one third full or contains 1MB of cached redo log data.
  • When LGWR is asked to switch logs

The initialization parameter LOG_BUFFER determines the size (in bytes) of the redo log buffer. In general, larger values reduce log file I/O, particularly if transactions are long or numerous. The default setting is either 512 kilobytes (KB) or 128 KB times the setting of the CPU_COUNT parameter, whichever is greater

Automatic SGA Memory Management:


11g: Merory_target or (SGA_TARGET   and   PGA_AGGREGATE_TARGET)

OLTP Systems:

Heavy OLTP: Larger SGA as larger memory is needed in case of OLTP transactions

Heavy Batch: Smaller SGA

Note: To use automatic SGA memory management, the parameter statistics_level must be set to TYPICAL or ALL.If statistics collection is not enabled, the database will not have the historical information needed to make the necessary sizing decisions.


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