The Automatic Workload Repository, (AWR) had been around since Oracle 10g and requires the diagnostic and tuning management pack licensing to use all of its features in Oracle’s Enterprise Edition database. Versions before 10.2.0.4 had limited collections vs. the modern reporting schema and every subsequent release of Oracle has added to it’s content, which explains the size increase stored in the objects/number of objects in the SYSAUX tablespace.
By default and since version 184.108.40.206, the AWR retention is 8 days and takes an automatic snapshot once per hour. It’s common for DBAs to up this retention to at least 31 days to capture a month of workload information and these snapshot identifiers can then be used to identify workload intervals for querying and reporting. Oracle can be also be configured to lessen the intervals between snapshots to change the granularity of the AWR reports, or my preference, the DBA or privileged user can take manual snapshots to identify an important beginning or ending of a period.
Kellyn goes into a good amount of detail in this post and, based on the title, promises at least a part 2. Though this could be a History of the World: Part I trick Kellyn is playing on us.