SQL tuning tips - How to find the fastest execution plans

Times are changing, and Oracle developers now understand that it's not enough to write a SQL statement that gives the right answer.  That's only half the job;  an Oracle professional must also ensure that the SQL statement is optimized!  This is especially important because there are many "correct" ways to write a giver SQL query, all of which give the correct results, but with vastly different response time!

When you are tuning SQL for the fastest response time, there are several factors that experts examine:

- The "cost" figures in the execution plans

- The actual speed of the query (the SQL*Plus "set timing on" command")

- The number of logical I/O's required to fetch the desired rows (the "consistent gets" execution statistic

When tuning SQL, many Oracle professionals only focus on the execution plans and the associated “cost” figures.  We have already discussed why the “cost” figures in a SQL execution plan do not always reflect the fastest execution plan, and that’s another reason why it’s critical to always “set timing on” and time your query’s actual execution speed and the number of logical I/O’s (consistent gets).  

Many people analyze their execution plans, and choose the one that they believe has the best execution plan, without actually timing the SQL for execution speed.   If you do not check the time and the plan, you may end using expensive new features.  

Rampant TechPress author and Oracle ACE Laurent Schneider has this great tip for ensuring that your SQL is always optimized for minimizing I/O operations:


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