Global Trace Flags Are Global

Kendra Little points out that when you turn a trace flag on globally, it cannot be off for individual sessions:

In SQL Server 2016, you can now enable the very same optimizer hotfixes controlled by Trace Flag 4199 at the database scope by using ALTER DATABASE SCOPED CONFIGURATION SET QUERY_OPTIMIZER_HOTFIXES=ON.

If you have the setting configured at the database level, it’s much easier to test what would happen if the setting was NOT enabled, because you can compile your query from a different database.

Interesting results.  Check it out.

Creating A Spinlock Convoy

Lonny Niederstadt explains how two performance issues can intertwine in an interesting manner:

I’d seen systems that implemented both trace flags as startup parameters simultaneously.  I’d helped organizations implement first T8048, then T4199 (based on the timing of my research and testing of the trace flags).  This was the first time that there was a desire to implement the trace flags one-at-a-time and we had the choice of which to implement first.

I hadn’t chosen to put T8048 in first previously – that was just the way everything worked out.  If I chose to follow that order – I’d be doing what I’d seen and done before.  But… there was also a reason to choose the reverse order, with T4199 first.  Spinlock issues – especially at that time – were considered more exotic performance issues than many of the “plan-shaping” issues that trace flag 4199 addressed.  Many administrators were much more familiar with that type of performance issue – eliminating significant waits, altering plan shapes, making the logical work of queries more efficient – than with the busy wait/management overhead of spinlocks.  Sometimes demonstrating an improvement that someone is already familiar with evaluating is a plus, helping to gain trust.  I didn’t know of a specific reason NOT to put trace flag T4199 in place, followed by T8048 later.  And in this case it seemed like building up some interpersonal capital might be a good idea.

Thinking through the full ramifications of trace flag changes is hard, even for sharp people like Lonny.  Read on for the details of what happened next.

Trace Flag Basics

Erin Stellato explains the basics behind trace flags in SQL Server:

Trace flag 1118 addresses contention that can exist on a particular type of page in a database, the SGAM page.  This trace flag typically provides benefit for customers that make heavy use of the tempdb system database.  In SQL Server 2016, you change this behavior using the MIXED_PAGE_ALLOCATION database option, and there is no need for TF 1118.

Trace flag 3023 is used to enable the CHECKSUM option, by default, for all backups taken on an instance.  With this option enabled, page checksums are validated during a backup, and a checksum for the entire backup is generated.  Starting in SQL Server 2014, this option can be set instance-wide through sp_configure (‘backup checksum default’).

The last trace flag, 3226, prevents the writing of successful backup messages to the SQL Server ERRORLOG.  Information about successful backups is still written to msdb and can be queried using T-SQL.  For servers with multiple databases and regular transaction log backups, enabling this option means the ERRORLOG is no longer bloated with BACKUP DATABASE and Database backed up messages.  As a DBA, this is a good thing because when I look in my ERRORLOG, I really only want to see errors, I don’t want to scroll through hundreds or thousands of entries about successful backups.

Click through for more useful information, including a list of officially supported trace flags.

Table Variables And TF2453

Tara Kizer investigates Trace Flag 2453:

I recently saw a server with trace flag 2453 configured. I hadn’t come across this trace flag before, so I did a little research. Microsoft says it allows “a table variable to trigger recompile when enough number of rows are changed”. This can lead to a more efficient execution plan. Trace flag 2453 is available in SP2 or greater for SQL Server 2012, CU3 or greater for SQL Server 2014 and RTM or greater for SQL Server 2016.

I was curious how a query using a table variable performed as compared to the “same” query using:

  • trace flag 2453

  • OPTION (RECOMPILE)

  • a temporary table

Click through for a relative performance comparison.

Updating Multiple Statistics Concurrently

SQL Scotsman explains trace flag 7471, which allows you to update multiple statistics on a table concurrently:

Running multiple UPDATE STATISTICS commands for different statistics on a single table concurrently has been available under global Trace Flag 7471 since SQL Server 2014 SP1 CU6 and SQL Server 2016 CU1.  Microsoft have documented this trace flag here and here.

It sounds like, for the most part, you might not want this flag turned on, but read the whole post.

Query Optimizer Hotfixes

SQL Scotsman covers the query optimizer hotfixes which you can turn on with trace flag 4199:

The query optimiser hotfixes contained under Trace Flag 4199 are intentionally not enabled by default.  This means when upgrading from SQL Server 2008 R2 to SQL Server 2012 for example, new query optimiser logic is not enabled.   The reason behind this according to the article linked above is to prevent plan changes that could cause query performance regressions.  This makes sense for highly optimised environments where application critical queries are tuned and rely on specific execution plans and any change in query optimiser logic could potentially cause unexpected / unwanted query regressions.

Read the whole thing.

Confirming Checkpoints

Arun Sirpal shows how to log when checkpointing runs:

Via Configuration manager I enabled trace flags 3502 and 3605 – both needed to get the checkpoint information and write it to the error log.

I then shutdown the machine, on start-up I looked into the error log.

1
EXEC XP_READERRORLOG

Notice the ‘s’ in front of the spid<number>? Well that means the checkpoint was done via the automatic process; if you do a manual checkpoint it won’t see this letter.

I did not know that the “s” indicated that this was an automated process.

New Columnstore Trace Flags

Niko Neugebauer looks at a few trace flags which modify columnstore index behavior:

Starting with SQL Server 2016, if you have enough RAM and suffering from the TempDB Spills that do have a significant impact on your workload, then you can enable the Trace Flag 9389 that will enable Batch Mode Iterators to request additional memory for the work and thus avoiding producing additional unnecessary I/O.

I am glad that Microsoft has created this functionality and especially that at the current release, it is hidden behind this track, and so Microsoft can learn from the applications before enabling it by default, hopefully in the next major release of SQL Server.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here.  Read the whole thing.

Trace Flag 2389

Erin Stellato looks at using Trace Flag 2389 with the new cardinality estimator in SQL Server 2014:

To summarize, when using compatibility mode 110 or below, trace flag 2389 works like it always has.  But when using compatibility mode 120 or higher, and thus the new CE, the estimates are not the same compared to the old CE, and in this specific case, are not that different whether using the trace flag or not.

So what should you do?  Test, as always.  I haven’t found anything documented in MSDN that states that trace flag 2389 is not supported with compatibility mode 120 and higher, nor have I found anything that documents a change in behavior.  I do find it very interesting that the estimates are different (in this case much lower) with the new CE.  That could potentially be an issue, but there are multiple factors in play when it comes to estimates, and this was a very simple query (one table, one predicate).  In this case, the estimate is way off (4920 rows versus the 22,595 rows for the June 5 date).

I highly recommend reading this article.

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