I have a select statement within a procedure that is causing me some grief at the moment. The query estimates about 100 million rows and that in turn grants large chunks of memory (about 8 gigs per procedure call), which then in turn results in extreme memory pressure on the database instance.

When the CE model is 120 (the instance is on SQL Server 2014 SP3, CU4 by the way), I get the following estimates

estimates for ce model 120

At the same time if I set the CE model to 70 using QUERYTRACEON 9481, I get perfect estimates

eestimates for ce model 70

I'm very interested to understand why changing to an older CE model gives me a better estimate for the query.

Additionally, I also see bizarre columns with no statistics warnings.

uhm what?

But at the same time I can see that I do have statistics for those columns in my table. I also tried creating a multi-column statistic, figured I'd give that a try as well. But it didn't really help either.

stats that exist

If I update the statistics, the issue almost immediately resolves btw and it creates a better new plan (to make sure a recompile isn't really that resolves the issue, I did remove the procedure and plan hash from the cache before updating the stats )

This is the select statement in question:

  , t.CanDownload  
  , t.CanUpload  
  , t.CanView  
  , i.ClientCreatedDate  
  , i.ClientModifiedDate  
  , i.CreationDate  
  , uc.FirstName AS CreatorFirstName  
  , i.CreatorID  
  , uc.LastName AS CreatorLastName  
  , i.ExpirationDate  
  , i.FileCount  
  , i.FileName  
  , i.FilePath  
  , i.FileSizeBytes  
  , i.Hash  
  , t.ItemID AS ID  
  , sl.ExpirationDate AS LockExpirationDate  
  , sl.LockID  
  , ea.Email AS LockOwnerEmailAddress  
  , ul.FirstName AS LockOwnerFirstName  
  , sl.LockOwnerID  
  , ul.LastName AS LockOwnerLastName  
  , sl.StreamLockTypeID AS LockTypeID  
  , i.Name  
  , i.ProgenyEditDate  
  , t.StreamID  
  , i.[Type]  
 FROM #CurrentItemsWithPerms t  
  INNER JOIN dbo.Items i   
   ON i.ID = t.ItemID  
  INNER JOIN dbo.Users uc   
   ON uc.ID = i.CreatorID  
  LEFT OUTER JOIN dbo.StreamLock sl   
   ON sl.StreamID = t.StreamID  
  LEFT OUTER JOIN dbo.Users ul   
   ON ul.ID = sl.LockOwnerID  
  LEFT OUTER JOIN dbo.EmailAddresses ea   
   ON ea.UserID = ul.ID  
   AND ea.IsPrimary = 1  
  t.ItemID <> @ParentID  
  AND t.PermissionsFound = 1

Query plan for CE model 120: click here

T2363 Results for CE model 120 (in case it helps): click here

Query plan for CE model 70: click here

So, just to summarize my questions:

  1. Why does the old CE model do a better job in estimating the rows in this case?
  2. Why am I seeing warnings related to missing statistics when they are already present?

Thank you.

Edit: Paste the plan links aren't rendering properly, added gists instead. Also included output for CE 120 with T2363 turned on.

Edit2: An update - As Josh pointed out, I enabled T4199 and it makes an enormous difference in memory grants, from 8 gigs down to 50 megs. Although the estimates are still wacky and more importantly I still get those pesky warnings about "columns without statistics". There are no warnings when I use the old CE model. So, I'm still wondering why am I getting those even with T4199 turned ON? Plan XML with T4199 available here

An additional note - The statistics were sampled when there were only 4 rows in the table. 40 more rows were added since then. If I update the stats manually, the warning goes away and it creates a new different plan with really good estimates (IIUC the stats won't update automatically until the rowmodctr hits 500 for tiny tables). If the stats were truly out of date, (goes back to the previous question), why doesn't the old CE model reflect that? Plan XML with just the updated stats available here

Edit3: So, I took another look at this, and it certainly looks like my statistics for the the tiny table was out of date. I couldn't find this documented, but it looks like if my table has less than 500 rows, then the statistics becomes outdated after the rowmodctr is modified 10x the times of the sampled value. For example: if my table was sampled at 5 rows, I get a new plan (and a terrible one) when the total number of rows hits 51.

Here are a couple of screenshots that shows this behavior:

When row count is at 50 rowcount equals 50

When row count is at 51 rowcount equals 51

I was able to reproduce this behavior until sampling value equaled 49. So, at rowcount=490 I have a good plan, and as soon the row count is at 491, I get a sub optimal plan. So, I guess I will have to adjust my update statistics job a bit, perhaps even create an exception to frequently update it than my other tables.


1 Answer 1


It sounds like you have encountered this bug with the SQL Server 2014 ("new") cardinality estimator:

Identifying SQL Server 2014 New Cardinality Estimator issues and Service Pack 1 improvement

The specific bug was fixed in SQL Server 2014 SP1, per this KB:

When the join predicate uses other conditions than equality or a combination of equalities, the estimated number of rows of specific types in joins differs from the actual number of rows that are processed. In this situation, the query performance decreases, and because the query requests a large memory grant, the overall server performance decreases.

(the mix of equality predicates, and the increased memory grant, seem to match your situation)

And from the "solution" section:

Note To make the fix take effect for the second issue described in this article, enable trace flag 4199.

So try enabling that fix at the query level to see if it resolves the problem:


Consider turning that trace flag on at the server level as a global startup flag, as there are corrections to many issues behind that flag. You can read some discussion about it on the site here: Trace Flag 4199 - Enable globally?

Why am I seeing warnings related to missing statistics when they are already present?

After a little more research, it sounds like the SQL Server 2014 CE is looking for a multi-column statistic, but the other columns are just not reported in the warning. So that part of the situation is probably a red herring. The Legacy CE just isn't looking for the same stats, so it doesn't produce the warning.

If the stats were truly out of date, (goes back to the previous question), why doesn't the old CE model reflect that?

I don't know enough about the intricacies of the cardinality estimators to answer this part in detail. But I can say that the two CEs are just different. They will make different choices, some better some worse, based on the out-of-date stats. The Legacy CE seems to cope better with out-of-date stats in this specific case, while the 2014 CE goes off track quite a bit (but corrects with better stats).

  • Josh - You da man! Thank you for pointing me to the article. I really appreciate that. I also added some additional info regarding the missing stats that is slightly bothering me :) Feb 13, 2020 at 15:13
  • I wish I could up vote your answer, which I can't at the moment because I haven't the threshold points yet. Sorry about that. I'm looking for some additional info with the stats thing, but I promise I will hit that check mark if I don't receive any additional answers to the question. :) Feb 13, 2020 at 15:19
  • @bilbobaggins No problem! I will take a look at your update in a bit and see if I have any other ideas. Feb 13, 2020 at 16:19
  • @bilbobaggins I've updated my answer with my thoughts on your update. Hope that helps! Feb 13, 2020 at 19:37
  • Thank you very much Josh, I appreciate all the help. I found that my statistics were out of date, added a bit more info in case it helps anyone else out there. PS: It still doesn't allow me to mark your comment as the answer :( Feb 18, 2020 at 17:02

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