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sequene Cache Size

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How to Set 'Cache Size' of a Sequence Object? (Doc ID 378302.1)

Oracle Server - Enterprise Edition - Version: to - Release: 9.2 to 10.2
Information in this document applies to any platform.
***Checked for relevance on 15-Nov-2010***

> How to set 'Cache Size' of a Sequence object? 
> What are the pros and cons of having a higher and lower value for the Cache Size of a sequence?


A sequence is supplied only as a non-blocking mechanism for generating unique numbers
which are handed out in sequential order by an instance. To do this, a sequence is
typically cached in memory as a last used value and a high water mark value, it is
only when the last used value reaches the high water mark that Oracle writes a change
to the database and moves the high water mark; consequently it is always possible to
lose all the values between the last used value and the high water mark, for instance when 
the SGA is suddenly lost due to an instance crash, shut abort, etc.

You can minimize the loss in a couple of ways. In the first case you can define
the sequence to be non-caching using sql like:

alter sequence slow_sequence nocache;
The drawback to this is that every call for a new value will result in an update to
the SYS.SEQ$ table; an overhead that is unlikely to be acceptable in a high-speed OLTP system.
In fact I often advise DBAs to check their database for sequences which are high-usage
but defined with the default cache size of 20 - the performance benefits of altering
the cache size of such a sequence can be noticeable: a cache size of 1,000 is usually
sufficient. (NOTE: increasing the cache size of a sequence does not waste space, the
cache is still defined by just two numbers, the last used and the high water mark; it is
just that the high water mark is jumped by a much larger value every time it is reached.

Another method which may help you to avoid wasting values, and this applies only to
earlier versions of Oracle prior to 8.1, is to increase the init.ora parameter
SEQUENCE_CACHE_ENTRIES. This defaults to 20 and is often too low - prior to about
version 7.3 if a sequence definition was pushed out of memory to make room for a
'21st' sequence, then its latest value was not written back to disc. Newer versions
of Oracle do a proper writeback, and the very latest ignore the sequence_cache_entries
limit anyway. When this change in architecture appeared it also became possible to use
the dbms_pool package to keep sequences, and this is probably the most up-to-date option
you can choose if you have problems with losing sequence numbers.

In some versions of Oracle you could also lose values in sequences by issuing
alter system flush shared pool. To get around this problem (and the loss due to
a shutdown abort) you could alter sequence nocache before the command, which has
the effect of writing the current value back to disk, and then remember to set the
cache back to a suitable size afterwards.

Apart from flushing the buffer, you should also remember that a user may request
a sequence number and then fail to use it (possibly because they rolled back the
transaction that had asked for it). There is nothing you can do about this,
Oracle issues sequence numbers on a fire and forget basis. You can, of course,
redesign you application to use alternative mechanisms, but these tend cause
bottlenecks because of serialisation problems.

Remember - sequences exist to help you generate unique, roughly ordered, numbers quickly;
not to guarantee an unbrokem series of values. Don't expect more from them than they are
supposed to supply.

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