Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Four Important Buffer Pool Tuning Knobs in DB2 for z/OS

DB2 has five (well, four current) primary adjustable thresholds that can be modified using the ALTER BUFFERPOOL command.  

These thresholds are as follows:

The Sequential Steal Threshold, or VPSEQT, is the percentage of the buffer pool that can be occupied by sequentially accessed pages. For example, at the default value of 80, when this threshold is reached, 80% of the buffer pool represents pages for sequential processing. Of course, 80% is just the default; you can modify this value based on your processing needs to any value ranging from 0 to 100. When this threshold is reached, DB2 will steal a sequential page first before stealing a page from a randomly accessed page. So, for data that is accessed mostly sequentially (for example, through scans and prefetching) consider increasing the value of this parameter, and for data that is accessed most randomly, consider decreasing the value of this parameter. A VPSEQT value of zero will prevent any sequential pages from lingering in the buffer pool and it will turn off sequential prefetch.  A VPSEQT value of 100 allows the entire buffer pool to be monopolized by sequential pages.

The next tunable buffer pool threshold is the Parallel Sequential Threshold, or VPPSEQT. This threshold indicates the amount of the buffer pool that can be consumed by sequentially accessed data for parallel queries. When this threshold is reached, DB2 will cease to steal random pages to store sequential pages accessed by parallel queries. The default value for VPPSEQT is 50%, indicating its size as 50% of the sequential steal threshold (VPSEQT). For example, if the buffer pool is defined as 1000 pages and VPSEQT is set at 80%, a query using I/O parallelism can consume up to 400 sequential pages (that is, 1000 x 80% = 800 for the sequential steal threshold and 800 x 50% = 400 for the parallel sequential threshold).

The third, and final sequential threshold is the Assisting Parallel Sequential Threshold (or VPXPSEQT). This threshold is no longer supported as of DB2 11 because Sysplex Parallelism is no longer supported. When it was available, VPXPSEQT was used to indicate the portion of the buffer pool that might be used to assist with parallel operations initiated from another DB2 in the data sharing group. 

The final two modifiable DB2 buffer pool thresholds are used to indicate when modified data is to be written from the buffer pool to disk. Log data is externalized when a COMMIT is taken, but writing of the actual data itself is controlled by the two deferred write thresholds (and DB2 system checkpoints).

First we have the Deferred Write Threshold (or DWQT). When DWQT is reached, DB2 starts scheduling write I/Os to externalize the data pages to disk. By default, the deferred write threshold is reached when 30% of the buffer pool is allocated to unavailable pages, whether updated or in use. The default is probably too high for most larger buffer pools.

DB2 also provides the Vertical Deferred Write Threshold (VDWQT), which is basically the same as DWQT but for a single page set. By default, VDWQT is reached when 5% of the buffer pool is allocated to one data set. When reached, DB2 will start scheduling write I/Os to externalize the data pages to disk. Once again, this default is most likely too high for most shops.

The VDWQT threshold can be specified as a percentage of the buffer pool, or as an absolute number of buffers. When you want to specify a relatively low threshold for VDWQT using an absolute number of buffers provides better granularity and control.

In general, consider ratcheting the deferred write thresholds down to smaller percentages (from the defaults) for most of your buffer pools. Doing so enables “trickle” write from the DB2 buffer pools. This means that the data is written asynchronously to disk regularly over time in smaller amounts, instead of storing up a lot of modified data that has to be written all at once when the threshold percentage is reached. Of course, the needs of every shop will vary.

And yes, there are other buffer pool tuning options other than these 5  4 parameters, such as changing the size of the pool, specifying min/max size for BP expansion/contraction, or altering the page most often used to fine tune buffer pool operations.

All of the above thresholds can be changed using the -ALTER BUFFERPOOL command. 


nitin said...

Hi Craig

I am following your Blog from long time and I have also purchased your book "DB2:Developer's Guide". I am from INDIA, now moved to USA from past couple of years , wish I can meet you in person here.


Craig S. Mullins said...

Good to meet you (virtually) Nitin... and thanks for following the blog (and, of course, for buying my book)!

Anyone looking for the latest edition of the book can order it from amazon at this link:

Unknown said...


Would appreciate if could get more blogs on buffer pools topics such as:

1) Buffer Pool tuning (Local and Global) according to work load. How to set threshold to optimum based on few check that we could do at our environment.
2) Buffer Pool Splitting or Consolidation - benefits and when should we go for this approach.
3) Would I-O rate and any other factor is indicator to take decision on pool tuning.

I m really looking blogs from you about pool or,if could suggest any book.

Thanks in advance.

Ajay G.