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I am using Microsoft SQL Server 2016 (SP2-GDR) (KB4505220) - 13.0.5101.9 (X64) Jun 15 2019 23:15:58 Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation Standard Edition (64-bit) on Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard 6.3 (Build 9600: )

The database is about 870 gb in size. It's SQL Standard and I have 128 gb of RAM on the server. The database is on SSD drives. The Data file is on a different drive than the log file and Tempdb has it's own SSD drive as well. The Server gets about 1200 queries/seconds in average, it can go as high as 2000 queries/second. Recompilation stays low, only 1 to 8 per second. Page life expectancy is good, averaging 61 minutes.

The Server has 6 physical cores + hyper threads.

We are using SQL Server's Change tracking a lot on a system where thousands of device connect and try to synchronize changes with the tracking key.

It usually runs fine, but then, from time to time, one day or another, the server's latches will skyrocket, going from 0ms to an average of 60677ms.

SQL Latch

When I check what queries are running, all I can see are the synchronization queries, all blocked, with "PAGELATCH_UP", all trying to access the change tracking tables, more than 300 queries blocked.

I have a few questions:

  • Does SQL Server locks the whole table while looking up change tracking changes?
  • Would I have better results with SQL Entreprise or it doesn't change anything?
  • Any idea why does the change tracking works well most of the time but crashes without apparent reason from week to week?

Those are my change tracking table size. The tables that my query blocks on are the three first ones, only a few mb of data.

enter image description here

They are all waiting on the same waitresource.

waitresource

Waitresource 2:4:88968 is in the tempdb. But tempdb is only responsible for about 9% of the writes of the server and 6% of the reads.

io report

But my query doesn't use the tempdb so I guess that it's like that because of the internal way change tracking works? Here is my query

DECLARE @Id INT; SET @Id = (SELECT Id FROM Users WHERE No=@No); 

SELECT DISTINCT lh.Key1 
FROM ( 
    SELECT Key1 FROM CHANGETABLE(CHANGES dbo.Table1, @TrackingKey) AS CT 
    UNION ALL 
    SELECT Key1 
    FROM dbo.Table2 lhd 
    INNER JOIN (SELECT Key2 FROM CHANGETABLE(CHANGES dbo.Table2, @TrackingKey) AS CT) AS CTLHD ON(CTLHD.Key2=lhd.Key2) 
    UNION ALL 
    SELECT Key1 
    FROM CHANGETABLE(CHANGES dbo.Table3, @TrackingKey) AS CT 
) AS L 
JOIN dbo.Table1 lh ON lh.Key1 = L.Key1 
WHERE lh.Id = @Id AND lh.Date BETWEEN @StartUtc AND @EndUtc 

My tempdb has 10 files and they are the same size.

tempdb

What I usually end up doing to get the client back to normal is put it in down time, then put him back up gradually so that all the mobile devices get to synchronize little by little. But our system is mission critical and this is not a long term solution.

Another solution I've been thinking about is changing the way the system works with change tracking queries. Have the mobile device synchronize with a "home made" table and fill this table with a single service reading change from change tracking. That way I'll limit the concurrent queries to the change tracking tables but I'm afraid that I'll just move the problem to the home made table instead.

Any thoughts on this? Any help will be appreciated.


EDITED : Head blocker

I tried to determine who is the head blocker and what it's waiting on but it's a hard task. It seems I have many "head blockers".

All the queries are running the same SELECT, almost all split in 4 threads, for some queries they are not blocked at all but waiting on "MISCELLANEOUS", but for some queries, at least part of the threads are blocked by other queries.

For example, right now, 294 threads are showing.

Query 202 is split into 4 threads and one of it's threads is blocked by 123 but the other threads are not blocked. The three threads are waiting on "MISCELLANEOUS" and the blocked thread is waiting on "PAGELATCH_UP"

As for query 123, it's not blocked, it's 4 threads are waiting on "MISCELLANEOUS"

Or for example, query 219 is blocked by query 140 on one thread, and blocked by 69 on the three other threads.

69 is blocked by 193, and 193 is running, waiting on "MISCELLANEOUS" again. 140 is not in the list anymore so it either timed out or completed.

My cost threshold for Parallelism is 70.
Locks 0
Max Degree of Parallelism 3
Query wait -1

Snapshot isolation level is not enabled on the database. Queries are not using snapshot isolation level.

database options

I also checked at the statistics on the tables, and even on the sys.change_tracking tables. Index on the tables are not fragmented (less than 10%) for the tables queried.

I ran one or two queries and generally the result of the query is 4 rows, which become only one row because of the DISTINCT clause. So it's not like it's returning thousands of rows.

When I run the query in SSMS it's fast and doesn't block even if I currently see hundreds of blocked queries on the server on the same query. So I guess it could be related to parameter sniffing maybe??

Here are the I/O statistics when I execute it in SSMS.

SQL Server Execution Times:
   CPU time = 0 ms,  elapsed time = 0 ms.
SQL Server parse and compile time: 
   CPU time = 92 ms, elapsed time = 92 ms.
Table 'Users'. Scan count 0, logical reads 2, physical reads 0, read-ahead  reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.

(1 row affected)

 SQL Server Execution Times:
   CPU time = 0 ms,  elapsed time = 0 ms.

(1 row affected)
Table 'Worktable'. Scan count 0, logical reads 0, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.
Table 'Workfile'. Scan count 0, logical reads 0, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.
Table 'syscommittab'. Scan count 3, logical reads 555, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.
Table 'change_tracking_62623266'. Scan count 1, logical reads 3364, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.
Table 'Table1'. Scan count 3, logical reads 9, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.
Table 'Table2'. Scan count 0, logical reads 34281, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.
Table 'change_tracking_46623209'. Scan count 1, logical reads 1152, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.
Table 'change_tracking_78623323'. Scan count 1, logical reads 1077, physical reads 0, read-ahead reads 0, lob logical reads 0, lob physical reads 0, lob read-ahead reads 0.

(1 row affected)

 SQL Server Execution Times:
   CPU time = 296 ms,  elapsed time = 435 ms.
SQL Server parse and compile time: 
   CPU time = 0 ms, elapsed time = 0 ms.

 SQL Server Execution Times:
   CPU time = 0 ms,  elapsed time = 0 ms.

Completion time: 2020-01-22T14:18:25.9480651-05:00

Here is my query plan https://www.brentozar.com/pastetheplan/?id=By7k-7UWI

But again, that's the version that doesn't block. I have the query store enabled so I could try to get the version that blocks, I'm just not 100% how to do it.


EDITED : QUERY STORE INFO

My query is the first in the "Regressed queries" of the Query Store.

Query store info

plans

According to the Query store, here is the "bad plan" https://www.brentozar.com/pastetheplan/?id=ryqKGQUbL

And here is the "good plan" https://www.brentozar.com/pastetheplan/?id=rknnGQ8WL

Should I just "force" the good plan?


EDITED My solution

Ok so I've used Brent Ozar's sp_blitzcache (https://www.brentozar.com/blitz/) with "expert_mode" at 1 to be able to retrieve the "bad plan"'s handle and to be able to clear it from cache (without clearing anything else).

DBCC FREEPROCCACHE (0x06000800155A5106F08F632F1C00000001000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000);

My server is back at normal state again and all the hundred of blocked queries are gone. I guess it's parameter sniffing then? Hoping it doesn't happen again. Would like to find a way for it not to happen again.

  • And which session is the head blocker, and what it it waiting on? – David Browne - Microsoft Jan 22 at 18:51
  • @DavidBrowne-Microsoft I seem to have multiple head blocker. They are waiting on "MISCELLANEOUS". Some of the other queries are split into 4 threads and different threads are blocked by different queries. I also added my cost threshold for parallelism – Danielle Paquette-Harvey Jan 22 at 19:06
  • snapshot isolation is not enabled. The SELECT queries are not using snapshot isolation. Added my query execution plan and I/O statistics but it runs fine when I execute it in SSMS. Will try to get the bad plan from the Query Store – Danielle Paquette-Harvey Jan 22 at 19:24
  • I got the bad plan from the Query Store. Wondering if I should just "force" the good plan in the Query Store – Danielle Paquette-Harvey Jan 22 at 19:30
  • @DavidBrowne-Microsoft I still don't understand why it's happening from time to time and only with Change Tracking queries. But at least I was able to find the "bad plan" handle and free it from cache. If you have any idea how I can manage to avoid having this problem in the future feel free to say it. I'll take ideas – Danielle Paquette-Harvey Jan 22 at 19:48
2

I'm not sure how to deal with the bad plan issue, maybe someone will come along with better query tuning skills to help out with that.

However, to speak to the tempdb contention issue, the page that all these sessions are fighting over is a PFS page. These are defined in the documentation as:

Page Free Space (PFS) pages record the allocation status of each page, whether an individual page has been allocated, and the amount of free space on each page.

Note that they only track free space for certain kinds of pages:

The amount of free space in a page is only maintained for heap and Text/Image pages.

The "Text/Image" comment there includes more modern LOB data types (nvarchar(max) and the like).

By the way, you can tell it's a PFS page because it's divisible evenly by 8088:

Thus, there is a new PFS page 8,088 pages after the first PFS page, and additional PFS pages in subsequent 8,088 page intervals.


All of that is to say that the "bad plan" is probably spilling to tempdb (there are two sorts and one hash join), which is causing contention over that particular PFS page. There are also some eager index spools that are writing to tempdb.

You may be able to mitigate this problem by installing SP2 CU1, which includes this fix:

This fix improves PFS page allocation by performing round-robin allocations across several PFS pages in the same data file in addition to the round-robin allocation across all tempdb data files. Therefore, the more PFS data pages that are contained in a data file and the more data files there are, the better the allocation distribution.

Thus even with the "bad plan," you would hopefully have less latch contention slowing things down.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot for the explanation :-) I already have SP2 CU1 installed but I didn't know about the PFS pages – Danielle Paquette-Harvey Jan 24 at 18:28
  • 1
    @DaniellePaquette-Harvey No problem! FYI, based on the version number in your original post (13.0.5101.9), you are on a GDR patch, which doesn't include CU1. So I do still thinking patching, ideally to the latest SP2 CU, but at least CU1, has a chance of helping with this issue. – Josh Darnell Jan 24 at 19:13
  • 1
    omg you are right! We updated all of our servers to CU10 and I guess I missed this one. I'll get the IT team to do this asap – Danielle Paquette-Harvey Jan 24 at 19:32
  • 1
    @DaniellePaquette-Harvey Sometimes all it takes is an extra set of eyes 😀 Hopefully that helps out! – Josh Darnell Jan 24 at 19:35

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