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SQL Server 2012: Detecting Sort Warnings with Extended Events (sort_warning event) – Part 2

07/12/2011 Leave a comment

In my last post, SQL Server 2012: Detecting Sort Warnings with Extended Events (sort_warning event) I showed how to use sort_warning event with sql_text action to detect sort warnings in database with statements sent to SQL server instance. We also saw that using sql_text action we know what stored procedure or batch are causing sort warnings. But sometimes that isn’t enough.

If we have a stored procedure or a batch with more statements that use sort operator we would like to know the information about the exact statement inside stored procedure or batch that caused sort_warning event. In SQL Server 2012 that can be achieved using tsql_stack or tsql_frame actions. Action tsql_stack is available in SQL Server 2008 (R2) while tsql_frame action is new in SQL Server 2012.

Below is description for tsql_stack and tsql_frame actions from metadata DMV:

In this post I will use tsql_frame action. To run all examples from this post we need TestSortWarnings database I used in my last post. This time I will create Extended Events session SortWarning with event_file target and it will capture sqlserver.sort_warning event with sqlserver.sql_text and sqlserver.tsql_frame actions. Event session is configured with a predicate on the sqlserver.database_id to track sort warnings only on TestSortWarnings database. Before you execute the script, you need to replace a value for database_id with a value returned by SELECT DB_ID(‘TestSortWarnings’) statement. Next script will create and start Event session SortWarning.

IF EXISTS(SELECT * FROM sys.server_event_sessions WHERE name='SortWarning')
DROP EVENT SESSION [MultipleDataFiles] ON SERVER;
-- Create Event Session SortWarning
CREATE EVENT SESSION SortWarning ON SERVER
ADD EVENT sqlserver.sort_warning(
ACTION(sqlserver.sql_text,sqlserver.tsql_frame)
WHERE (sqlserver.database_id=(7))) -- replace database_id
ADD TARGET package0.event_file(SET filename = N'C:\Log\SortWarning.xel',max_file_size=(100))
WITH (MAX_MEMORY=4096 KB,EVENT_RETENTION_MODE=ALLOW_SINGLE_EVENT_LOSS,MAX_DISPATCH_LATENCY=30 SECONDS)
GO
-- Start the Event Session
ALTER EVENT SESSION SortWarning
ON SERVER
STATE=START
GO

With the event session created and started we can run next script which will generate sort warning event.

USE TestSortWarnings
GO
DECLARE @T1 TABLE (Col1 int, Col2 varchar(8000))
-- Insert data to table variable
INSERT INTO @T1 SELECT * FROM dbo.TestTable
-- Return data sorted on Col2 column
SELECT * FROM @T1
ORDER BY Col2 ASC
GO

Let’s read the data from the extended events log file.

SELECT CAST(event_data AS XML) AS event_data
FROM sys.fn_xe_file_target_read_file('C:\Log\SortWarning*.xel',null,null,null)

Here is the result:

Sort_warning_type and sql_text are collected (1) and we see information collected with tsq_frame action (2). We can use sql_handle and offset information (offsetStart and offsetEnd) from tsql_frame action element and sys.dm_exec_sql_text DMF to return the specific statement which caused sort_warning. Here is the script to retrieve data we need:

SELECT
x.object_name AS event_name,
DATEADD(hh, DATEDIFF(hh, GETUTCDATE(), CURRENT_TIMESTAMP), vent_data.value('(event/@timestamp)[1]', 'datetime')) AS timestamp,
event_data.value('(event/data[@name="sort_warning_type"]/text)[1]', 'varchar(20)') AS sort_warning_type,
event_data.value('(event/action[@name="sql_text"]/value)[1]', 'varchar(max)') AS sql_text,
frame_data.value('./@level','int') AS frame_level,
OBJECT_NAME(st.objectid, st.dbid) AS objectname,
SUBSTRING(st.text, (frame_data.value('./@offsetStart','int')/2)+1,
((CASE frame_data.value('./@offsetEnd','int')
WHEN -1 THEN DATALENGTH(st.text)
ELSE frame_data.value('./@offsetEnd','int')
END - frame_data.value('./@offsetStart','int'))/2) + 1) AS sort_warning_statement
FROM (SELECT object_name, CAST(event_data AS XML) AS event_data
FROM sys.fn_xe_file_target_read_file('C:\Log\SortWarning*.xel',null,null,null)) x
CROSS APPLY x.event_data.nodes('event/action[@name="tsql_frame"]/value/frame') Frame(frame_data)
OUTER APPLY sys.dm_exec_sql_text(CONVERT(varbinary(max), frame_data.value('./@handle','varchar(max)'),1)) st

The results:

From the result we can see that frame_level for batch is 0 and objectname is NULL. Sort_warning_statement column shows us what specific statement from the batch is causing sort warning while sql_text column returns complete batch sent to a SQL server instance. It gives us all information about sort warnings to the statement level.

Now let’s execute 2 stored procedures dbo.Test and dbo.Test1.

EXEC dbo.test
GO
EXEC dbo.test1
GO

If we retrieve the event data from the event session target again we will see 3 new records.

The output from event_file target:

We see that frame_level for stored procedure is 1 and we have the name of stored procedure and exact statement inside the stored procedure which caused sort warning. That’s all we need.

Let’s see what will happened if we encounter stored procedure nesting. In the next script I will create and execute stored procedure dbo.test2 which calls dbo.test1 procedure.

CREATE PROCEDURE dbo.Test2
AS
SET NOCOUNT ONEXEC dbo.Test1
GO

EXEC dbo.Test2
GO

The output from event_file target:

We can see that even with stored procedure nesting we have all necessary information about sort warnings event. Frame_level column is 2 and it tells us the nesting level for the stored procedure responsible for sort warning event.

I like how much information we can get with SQL Server 2012 extended events. Open-mouthed smile In this post I tried to show how easily we can track sort warnings to the statement level in SQL Server 2012.

I hope that you have learned something new. 🙂

SQL Server 2012: Detecting Sort Warnings with Extended Events (sort_warning event)

05/12/2011 1 comment

Sort warnings events will rise when sort operation is performed in a query and it doesn’t fit into memory. In this case, SQL Server needs to spill the sort operation into tempdb which can result in a very slow physical operation especially if multiple passes to tempdb is needed for sorting the data. Ideally, there shouldn’t be any sort warnings on a server.

How to detect Sort Warnings in SQL Server 2008 (R2)?

In SQL Server 2008 (R2), sort warning event can be detected using SQL Profiler. SQL Server default trace has this event included by default. But using Sort Warning event in SQL Profiler we can’t capture what statements are causing these warnings because TextData column isn’t available.  Solomon Rutzky presented a way of finding statements by using profiler trace, trigger and DBCC INPUTBUFFER.

SQL Server 2008 (R2) doesn’t provide an event through Extended Events to track sort warnings. In SQL Server 2012 this will change.

How to detect Sort Warnings in SQL Server 2012 RC0?

In SQL Server 2012 RC0, the number of event has expanded to 616 and one of these new events is sort_warning event. Extended Events Sort_warning event can be used to detect what statements are causing sort warnings.  I will show how to use sort_warning event to detect sort warnings in database. Let’s create a new database with a simple table and stored procedures for testing.

-- Create TestSortWarnings database
CREATE DATABASE TestSortWarnings
GO
USE TestSortWarnings
GO
-- Create TestTable
CREATE TABLE dbo.TestTable (Col1 int IDENTITY(1,1), Col2 varchar(8000))
GO
-- Insert data into table
INSERT INTO dbo.TestTable (Col2)
SELECT REPLICATE('A','8000')
GO 200

CREATE PROCEDURE dbo.Test
AS
SET NOCOUNT ON

-- Declare table variable
DECLARE @T1 TABLE (Col1 int, Col2 varchar(8000))
-- Insert data to table variable
INSERT INTO @T1
SELECT * FROM dbo.TestTable

-- Return data sorted on Col2 column
SELECT * FROM @T1
ORDER BY Col2 ASC
GO

CREATE PROCEDURE dbo.Test1
AS
SET NOCOUNT ON

-- Declare table variable
DECLARE @T1 TABLE (Col1 int, Col2 varchar(8000))
-- Insert data to table variable
INSERT INTO @T1
SELECT * FROM dbo.TestTable
-- Return data sorted on Col2 column
SELECT * FROM @T1
ORDER BY Col2 ASC
OPTION (RECOMPILE)

-- Example with DINSTINCT
SELECT DISTINCT Col2 FROM @T1
-- Example with GROUP BY
SELECT Col2, COUNT(*) FROM @T1
GROUP BY Col2

Table TestTable has 2 columns, no indexes and has 200 rows. Two stored procedures will generate sort warnings during execution. I will use this database, table and stored procedures in all my examples.

Detecting Sort Warnings with Extended Events

SQL Server 2012 management studio (SSMS) has UI for creating and managing Extended Events and it will be much easier to use it. Great thing is that SSMS includes an event session data viewer for all targets except the ETW file target. If you want to learn more about it you can read a post “Introducing the Extended Events User Interface” written by SQL Team. Post is focused on the mechanisms for creating event sessions and displaying event session data.

In this post I will use T-SQL but everything from this post can be done with UI. Next script will create event session SortWarning with ring_buffer target. It will capture sqlserver.sort_warning event with sqlserver.sql_text action. Event session is configured with a predicate on the sqlserver.database_id to track sort warnings only on TestSortWarnings database. Before you execute the script, you need to replace a value for database_id with a value returned by SELECT DB_ID(‘TestSortWarnings’) statement.


CREATE EVENT SESSION SortWarning ON SERVER
ADD EVENT sqlserver.sort_warning(
  ACTION(sqlserver.sql_text)
  WHERE (sqlserver.database_id=(7))) -- Replace database_id
ADD TARGET package0.ring_buffer
GO

-- Start the Event Session
ALTER EVENT SESSION SortWarning
ON SERVER
STATE=START
GO

I will use prepared test data to simulate sort warnings. I will also include Actual Execution Plan to demonstrate new warnings information in it.

USE TestSortWarnings
GO
DECLARE @T1 TABLE (Col1 int, Col2 varchar(8000))
-- Insert data to table variable
INSERT INTO @T1 SELECT * FROM dbo.TestTable

-- Return data sorted on Col2 column
SELECT * FROM @T1
ORDER BY Col2 ASC
GO

If we look at Active Execution Plan we can see a warning on sort operator.

Let’s execute the stored procedure Test:

 EXEC dbo.Test
GO 

Let’s retrieve the event data from the event session target:

DECLARE @XEvent XML
SELECT @XEvent = CAST(target_data AS XML)
FROM sys.dm_xe_sessions s
INNER JOIN sys.dm_xe_session_targets t
  ON s.address = t.event_session_address
WHERE s.name = 'SortWarning'
AND t.target_name = 'ring_buffer'

SELECT
  event_data.value('(./@name)[1]', 'varchar(20)') AS event_name,
  DATEADD(hh, DATEDIFF(hh, GETUTCDATE(), CURRENT_TIMESTAMP), event_data.value('(./@timestamp)[1]', 'datetime')) AS timestamp,
  event_data.value('(./data[@name="sort_warning_type"]/text)[1]', 'varchar(20)') AS sort_warning_type,
  event_data.value('(./action[@name="sql_text"]/value)[1]', 'varchar(max)') AS sql_text
FROM @XEvent.nodes('RingBufferTarget[1]/event') XE(event_data)
 

Results:

Sort_warning event is raised 2 times. We see that singe pass over the data are required to sort the data and statements which caused spill to tempdb.  Let’s now execute stored procedure dbo.Test1 (with included Actual Execution plan).

 EXEC dbo.Test1
GO 

If we look at Actual Execution Plan we can see that stored procedure Test1 caused 2 sort warnings. (1) Second statement in stored procedure with ORDER BY didn’t cause sort warnings because of OPTION (RECOMPILE). Statements with DISTINCT (2) and GROUP BY (3) caused sort warnings.

If we retrieve the event data from the event session target again we will see 2 new records.

As we can see, by capturing only sqlserver.sort_warning event and sqlserver.sql_text action in event session we have information about the statement sent from a client to an SQL Server. Sometimes, that can be enough, but in some situations we need more information. If we have a stored procedure, which can be nested for example, with more statements that use sort operator (like Test1 stored procedure from our example), we will not know exactly which statements inside a stored procedure are causing sort warning events.

My next post will show how we can track sort warnings to the statement level inside a stored procedure.