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Overview of the Program Global Area (PGA)

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The PGA is memory specific to an operating process or thread that is not shared by other processes or threads on the system. Because the PGA is process-specific, it is never allocated in the SGA.

The PGA is a memory heap that contains session-dependent variables required by a dedicated or shared server process. The server process allocates memory structures that it requires in the PGA.An analogy for a PGA is a temporary countertop workspace used by a file clerk. In this analogy, the file clerk is the server process doing work on behalf of the customer (client process). The clerk clears a section of the countertop, uses the workspace to store details about the customer request and to sort the folders requested by the customer, and then gives up the space when the work is done.The following figure shows an instance PGA (collection of all PGAs) for an instance that is not configured for shared servers. You can use an initialization parameter to set a target maximum size of the instance PGA. Individual PGAs can grow as needed up to this target size.

Contents of the PGA

The PGA is subdivided into different areas, each with a different purpose.

The following figure shows the possible contents of the PGA for a dedicated server session. Not all of the PGA areas will exist in every case.
Private SQL Area

A private SQL area holds information about a parsed SQL statement and other session-specific information for processing.

When a server process executes SQL or PL/SQL code, the process uses the private SQL area to store bind variable values, query execution state information, and query execution work areas.

Do not confuse a private SQL area, which is in the PGA, with the shared SQL area, which stores execution plans in the SGA. Multiple private SQL areas in the same or different sessions can point to a single execution plan in the SGA. For example, 20 executions of SELECT * FROM sales in one session and 10 executions of the same query in a different session can share the same plan. The private SQL areas for each execution are not shared and may contain different values and data.

A cursor is a name or handle to a specific private SQL area. 
A private SQL area is divided into the following areas:

The run-time area

This area contains query execution state information. For example, the run-time area tracks the number of rows retrieved so far in a full table scan.

Oracle Database creates the run-time area as the first step of an execute request. For DML statements, the run-time area is freed when the SQL statement is closed.

The persistent area

This area contains bind variable values. A bind variable value is supplied to a SQL statement at run time when the statement is executed. The persistent area is freed only when the cursor is closed.

The client process is responsible for managing private SQL areas. The allocation and deallocation of private SQL areas depends largely on the application, although the number of private SQL areas that a client process can allocate is limited by the initialization parameter OPEN_CURSORS.

Although most users rely on the automatic cursor handling of database utilities, the Oracle Database programmatic interfaces offer developers more control over cursors. In general, applications should close all open cursors that will not be used again to free the persistent area and to minimize the memory required for application users.
SQL Work Areas

A work area is a private allocation of PGA memory used for memory-intensive operations.

For example, a sort operator uses the sort area to sort a set of rows. Similarly, a hash join operator uses a hash area to build a hash table from its left input, whereas a bitmap merge uses the bitmap merge area to merge data retrieved from scans of multiple bitmap indexes.

The following example shows a join of employees and departments with its query plan:
  2  FROM   employees e JOIN departments d 
  3  ON     e.department_id=d.department_id 
  4  ORDER BY last_name;
| Id| Operation           | Name        | Rows  | Bytes | Cost (%CPU)| Time    |
| 0 | SELECT STATEMENT    |             |   106 |  9328 |    7  (29)| 00:00:01 |
| 1 |  SORT ORDER BY      |             |   106 |  9328 |    7  (29)| 00:00:01 |
|*2 |   HASH JOIN         |             |   106 |  9328 |    6  (17)| 00:00:01 |
| 3 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| DEPARTMENTS |    27 |   540 |    2   (0)| 00:00:01 |
| 4 |    TABLE ACCESS FULL| EMPLOYEES   |   107 |  7276 |    3   (0)| 00:00:01 |

In the preceding example, the run-time area tracks the progress of the full table scans. The session performs a hash join in the hash area to match rows from the two tables. The ORDER BY sort occurs in the sort area.

If the amount of data to be processed by the operators does not fit into a work area, then Oracle Database divides the input data into smaller pieces. In this way, the database processes some data pieces in memory while writing the rest to temporary disk storage for processing later.

The database automatically tunes work area sizes when automatic PGA memory management is enabled. You can also manually control and tune the size of a work area.

Generally, larger work areas can significantly improve performance of an operator at the cost of higher memory consumption. Optimally, the size of a work area is sufficient to accommodate the input data and auxiliary memory structures allocated by its associated SQL operator. If not, response time increases because part of the input data must be cached on disk. In the extreme case, if the size of a work area is too small compared to input data size, then the database must perform multiple passes over the data pieces, dramatically increasing response time.
PGA Usage in Dedicated and Shared Server Modes

PGA memory allocation depends on whether the database uses dedicated or shared server connections.

The following table shows the differences.
Memory AreaDedicated ServerShared Server
Nature of session memoryPrivateShared
Location of the persistent areaPGASGA
Location of the run-time area for DML and DDL statementSPGAPGA