Data Management

New Oracle10g SQL optimizer hints

With the introduction of Oracle 10g, there are many new optimizer hints available to control optimizer behavior. Take a quick tour of these powerful new hints.


With each new release of Oracle, there are more tuning controls and opportunities for improving the execution speed of SQL. In an article about speeding up SQL execution in Oracle, I discussed some common SQL tuning hints and, in another article, I warned about performance issues when using SQL hints inside views.

Oracle tuning with hints has always been complex, and the Oracle Technical Network has a great overview into the processes of using hints to tune Oracle SQL. With the introduction of 10g database, there are many new optimizer hints available to control the optimizer behavior. Let’s take a quick tour of these powerful new hints:

spread_min_analysis
With this hint, you can omit some of the compile time optimizations of the rules on spreadsheets, such as detailed dependency graph analysis. Other optimizations, such as creating filters to selectively populate spreadsheet access structures and limited rule pruning, are still used.

This hint helps to reduce compilation time because spreadsheet analysis may be lengthy if the number of rules is significantly large, such as more than several hundred.

For example:
SELECT /*+ SPREAD_MIN_ANALYSIS */ ...

spread_no_analysis
With this hint, it's possible to have no spreadsheet analysis. Rule-pruning and filter generation are also omitted when this hint is used. If there is spreadsheet analysis, the compilation time is minimized.

For example:
SELECT /*+ SPREAD_NO_ANALYSIS */ ...

use_nl_with_index
This hint causes the CBO to join the specified table to another row source with a nested loops join. It uses the specified table as the inner table, but only under this condition: If no index is specified, the CBO must be able to use some index with at least one join predicate as the index key. If an index is specified, the CBO must be able to use that index with at least one join predicate as the index key.

For example:
SELECT /*+ USE_NL_WITH_INDEX (polrec polrind) */ ...

CARDINALITY
This hint specifies the estimated cardinality returned by a query or portions of the query. Note that if no table is specified, the cardinality is the total number of rows returned by the entire query.

For example:
SELECT /*+ CARDINALITY ( [tablespec] card ) */

SELECTIVITY
This hint specifies the estimated selectivity of a query or portions of the query. If only one table is specified, the selectivity is the fraction of rows of that table that satisfies all single-table predicates on the specified table. If a list of tables is specified, the selectivity is the fraction of rows of the result of joining those tables in any order that satisfies all applicable predicates.

For example:
SELECT /*+ SELECTIVITY ( [tablespec] sel ) */

However, note that if both CARDINALITY and SELECTIVITY hints are specified on the same set of tables, both hints will be ignored.

no_use_nl
The no_use_nl hint causes the CBO to exclude nested loops to join each specified table to another row source, using the specified table as the inner table. With this hint, only the hash join and the sort-merge joins will be considered for the specified tables.

For example:
SELECT /*+ NO_USE_NL ( employees ) */ ...

no_use_merge
This hint causes the CBO to exclude sort-merge to join each specified table to another row source, using the specified table as the inner table.

For example:
SELECT /*+ NO_USE_MERGE ( employees dept ) */ ...

no_use_hash
This hint causes the CBO to exclude hash joins to join each specified table to another row source, using the specified table as the inner table.

For example:
SELECT /*+ NO_USE_HASH ( employees dept ) */ ...

no_index_ffs
This hint causes the CBO to exclude a fast full-index scan of the specified indexes on the specified table.
Syntax: /*+ NO_INDEX_FFS ( tablespec indexspec ) */

no_index_ss
This hint causes the CBO to exclude a skip scan of the specified indexes on the specified table.
Syntax: /*+ NO_INDEX_SS (tablespec indexspec ) */

no_star_transformation
This hint causes the CBO to omit star query transformation.
Syntax: /*+ NO_STAR_TRANSFORMATION */

index_ss
This hint explicitly chooses an index skip scan for the specified table. If the statement uses an index range scan, Oracle scans the index entries in ascending order of their indexed values. In a partitioned index, the results are in ascending order within each partition.
Syntax: /*+ INDEX_SS (tablespec indexspec) */

index_ss_asc
This hint explicitly chooses an index skip scan for the specified table. If the statement uses an index range scan, Oracle scans the index entries in ascending order of their indexed values. In a partitioned index, the results are in ascending order within each partition.
Syntax: /*+ INDEX_SS_ASC (tablespec indexspec) */

index_ss_desc
This hint explicitly chooses an index skip scan for the specified table. If the statement uses an index range scan, Oracle scans the index entries in descending order of their indexed values. In a partitioned index, the results are in descending order within each partition.
Syntax: /*+ INDEX_SS_DESC (tablespec indexspec) */

cpu_costing
This hint turns CPU costing on for the SQL statement. This is the default cost model for the optimizer. The optimizer estimates the number and type of IO operations and the number of CPU cycles the database will perform during execution of the given query. It uses system statistics to convert the number of CPU cycles and number of IO(s) to the estimated query execution time. The CPU_COST column of the PLAN_TABLE stores the CPU cost.
Syntax: /*+ CPU_COSTING (tablespec indexspec) */

no_cpu_costing
This hint turns off CPU costing for the SQL statement. CBO then uses the IO cost model, which measures everything in single-block reads and ignores CPU cost.
Syntax: /*+ NO_CPU_COSTING */

As the Oracle optimizer becomes more sophisticated, Oracle professionals must constantly add to their arsenal of tools for tuning SQL statements. While it is far beyond the scope of this article to discuss all of the intricacies of the new Oracle10g SQL hints, you can get additional information about Oracle10g in Mike Ault’s latest book Oracle Database 10g New Features.

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