Loads of fun with DBA_HIST_OSSTAT

I saw a load of 44 on a node of our production Exadata and it worried me.  The AWR report looks like this:

Host CPU
            Load Average
 CPUs     Begin       End     %User   %System      %WIO     %Idle
----- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---------
   16     10.66     44.73      68.3       4.3       0.0      26.8

So, why is the load average 44 and yet the CPU is 26% idle?

I started looking at ASH data and found samples with 128 processes active on the CPU:

     select
  2  sample_time,count(*)
  3  from DBA_HIST_ACTIVE_SESS_HISTORY a
  4  where
  5  session_state='ON CPU' and
  6  instance_number=3 and
  7  sample_time
  8  between
  9  to_date('05-MAR-2015 01:00:00','DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS')
 10  and
 11  to_date('05-MAR-2015 02:00:00','DD-MON-YYYY HH24:MI:SS')
 12  group by sample_time
 13  order by sample_time;

SAMPLE_TIME                    COUNT(*)
---------------------------- ----------
05-MAR-15 01.35.31.451 AM           128

... lines removed for brevity

Then I dumped out the ASH data for one sample and found all the sessions on the CPU were running the same parallel query:

select /*+  parallel(t,128) parallel_index(t,128) dbms_stats ...

So, for some reason we are gathering stats on a table with a degree of 128 and that spikes the load.  But, why does the CPU idle percentage sit at 26.8% when the load starts at 10.66 and ends at 44.73?  Best I can tell load in DBA_HIST_OSSTAT is a point measurement of load.  It isn’t an average over a long period.  The 11.2 manual describes load in v$osstat in this way:

Current number of processes that are either running or in the ready state, waiting to be selected by the operating-system scheduler to run. On many platforms, this statistic reflects the average load over the past minute.

So, load could spike at the end of an hour-long AWR report interval and still CPU could average 26% idle for the entire hour?  So it seems.

– Bobby

About Bobby

I live in Chandler, Arizona with my wife and three daughters. I work for US Foods, the second largest food distribution company in the United States. I've been working as an Oracle database administrator and PeopleSoft administrator since 1994. I'm very interested in Oracle performance tuning.
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