Wednesday, June 19, 2013

DB2 Locking, Part 12: Lock Promotion and Escalation

It can be potentially troublesome when DB2 lock promotion and escalation occur. These situations can greatly reduce the availability of concurrent access to data.

First let's look at lock promotion. When binding a program with an ISOLATION level of RR, the optimizer sometimes decides that table space locks will perform better than page locks. As such, the optimizer promotes the locking level to table space locking, regardless of the LOCKSIZE specified in the DDL. This process is called lock promotion.

When you set the LOCKSIZE bind parameter to ANY, DB2 processing begins with page-level locking. As processing continues and locks are acquired, however, DB2 might decide that too many page (or row) locks have been acquired, causing inefficient processing.

In this scenario, DB2 escalates the level of locking from page (or row) locks to table or table space locks—a procedure called lock escalation. The threshold governing when lock escalation occurs is set in one of two ways:

  • The DSNZPARM start-up parameters for DB2 
  • The LOCKMAX parameter of the CREATE or ALTER TABLESPACE statement (which is stored in the MAXROWS column of SYSIBM.SYSTABLESPACE)

Lock escalation applies to objects defined with LOCKSIZE ANY in the DDL.

There are some limitations on lock escalation, though. A table lock can never be escalated to a table space lock. Table space locks are the highest level of locking and, therefore, cannot be escalated. Furthermore, a row lock will not be escalated to a page lock. It will be escalated to a table space lock.

User lock escalation occurs if a single user accumulates more page locks than are allowed by the DB2 subsystem (as set in DSNZPARMs), the program is informed via a -904 SQLCODE. The program can either issue a ROLLBACK and produce a message indicating that the program should be modified to COMMIT more frequently or, alternately, escalate the locking strategy itself by explicitly issuing a LOCK TABLE statement within the code.

Prior to implementing the second approach, be sure to understand the ramifications of issuing the  LOCK TABLE statement and how it works.


There are two  DSNZPARM parameters that are used to govern DB2 locking and lock escalation: NUMLKTS and NUMLKUS.

NUMLKTS defines the threshold for the number of page locks that can be concurrently held for any one table space by any single DB2 application (thread). When the threshold is reached, DB2 escalates all page locks for objects defined as LOCKSIZE ANY according to the following rules:

  • All page locks held for data in segmented table spaces are escalated to table locks.
  • All page locks held for data in partitioned table spaces are escalated to table space locks.

NUMLKUS defines the threshold for the total number of page locks across all table spaces that can be concurrently held by a single DB2 application. When any given application attempts to acquire a lock that would cause the application to surpass the NUMLKUS threshold, the application receives a resource unavailable message (SQLCODE of -904).

TABLESPACE DDL Locking Parameters

In general, letting DB2 handle the level of locking required can be a fine strategy. Turning over the determination for lock size to DB2 requires setting LOCKSIZE ANY. Of course, you might have a compelling reason to use a specific LOCKSIZE. For example, you might choose to specify LOCKSIZE PAGE to explicitly direct DB2 to lock at the page level. Or, under certain conditions you might choose LOCKSIZE ROW to implement row-level locking.

The LOCKMAX parameter specifies the maximum number of page or row locks that any one process can hold at any one time for the table space. When the threshold is reached, the page or row locks are escalated to a table or table space lock. The LOCKMAX parameter is similar to the NUMLKTS parameter, but for a single table space only.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Craig for the great clarification on lock promotion versus escalation. Another nice post that I came across:

Lock escalation example

kunal said...

Hi Craig,
It may be a naive question, but is it possible that a lock escalation persists for much more duration than the actual job (unit of work) ?

Background: A mainframe z/os cobol - jcl job updates a DB2 database but does not commit intermittently. Locking is set at page level. So naturally as the job completes itself (in about 30 cpu seconds) , commit will happen and in my assumption, the lock will be released. But as per our system DBA, the lock still persists for about 60-90 more minutes. Which I do not agree with completely. Hence the question.