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Microsoft KB Archive/36963

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INF: SQL Server Disk-Space Management

ID: Q36963

The information in this article applies to:

  • Microsoft SQL Server for OS/2, version 4.2


The following information discusses how SQL Server manages disk space.


Part 1: SQL Server Disk-space Management

SQL Server acquires disk space from the operating system by allocating one or more OS/2 disk files. Each of these files can be thought of as a segment of disk space that is reserved for use by the SQL Server. They are allocated in increments of 1 megabyte (up to the maximum file size permitted by the version of OS/2 being used) and are fixed in length.

Together, these disk space segments compose a pool of disk space that can be assigned to individual databases. If there is not enough space in the pool to satisfy a particular CREATE DATABASE or ALTER DATABASE request, another disk segment can be added dynamically with DISK INIT.

A segment may contain several databases and a database may be allocated on several segments. If disk-space requirements are static, or if the machine is dedicated, a single large segment is best. If space requirements cannot be predicted, if the disk is shared by several applications that compete for space, or if multiple physical disks (or partitions) exist, multiple segments are best.

A single large segment, allocated when the disk is relatively empty, will probably perform better than many small segments scattered over the disk; however, if multiple physical disk drives are available, spreading the segments over the multiple drives will give better performance.

The first disk segment contains initialization information and must exist before the SQL Server can be started. This segment is built during the installation process and utilities are provided to rebuild it if necessary (BLDMASTR and the SQL scripts INSTMSTR, INSTMSGS, INSTMODL, INSTPUBS). This segment contains the Master Database, Model Database, etc., and may contain user data as well. The default size of the master disk segment is 15 MB on 4.2 servers, which is enough for the Master, Model, Temp, and PUBS databases, but not for user data. Although it is possible to make the master disk segment large enough for user data (by deleting and rebuilding), it is better to keep system data on the first segment and put user data on additional segments.

Subsequent disk space segments are added with DISK INIT, which creates an OS/2 file of the specified size and adds an entry to the SYSDEVICES table containing the logical name of this segment, the physical name by which it is known to the operating system, and the size in 2K pages.

Each 2K page in the disk space pool is identified by a unique number. Each disk space segment contains a contiguous sequential range of page numbers; the corresponding SYSDEVICES entry contains the starting page number of each segment, which specifies its position in the "global page space."

A database can only use the disk space that has been previously assigned to it by the CREATE DATABASE or ALTER DATABASE commands. These commands add entries to the SYSUSAGES table that identify groups of pages by specifying the starting page number and number of pages, as well as the database to which they are assigned. Since each entry in SYSUSAGES can refer to only a single group of contiguous page numbers, multiple entries may be required to satisfy a single CREATE or ALTER DATABASE.

Parameters on the CREATE or ALTER DATABASE commands specify whether the space is to be allocated from particular disk segments (by logical name) or from any of the disk segments that have been marked as "default" segments by the stored procedure "sp_diskdefault".

To find free disk space, SQL Server compares the list of available segments and sizes (SYSDEVICES) with the list of pieces of those segments that are already assigned (SYSUSAGES) and finds the smallest free piece (or pieces) that will satisfy the request.

Once a group of pages is assigned to a database, the group is available for use by objects within that database.

Part 2: SQL Server Disk-space Management

Part 2 below covers the segmentation of global page-number space and the relationship of the "virtual device number" (VDEVNO) and low and high global page numbers to the database device.

The address space for database global page numbers is segmented by interpreting the 32-bit global page number as two separate components. The high-order 8 bits is the VDEVNO and the remaining 24 bits is the relative page number from the beginning of that device. This is similar to segmented addressing schemes in operating systems that use a segment number and offset within the segment. The following are examples:

   0x01000003   is page 3 on device 1
   0x02000003   is page 3 on device 2 

This is why virtual device number 1 has a starting page number of 16777216 (0x01000000 = 16777216).

The segmentation scheme allows database devices in the middle of the global page space to be expanded without affecting the page addresses of existing data. For example, device 1 could be initially allocated as 2 megabytes (giving it a starting page number of 16777216 and an ending page number of 16778240). Then, device 2 is added, also 2 megabytes in size (33554432 to 33555456). Later, it becomes necessary to increase the size of device 1. There is no problem because each device has a page space of 16 million pages reserved for it. This does mean that each database device is limited to 32 gigabytes (16 million pages times 2048 bytes per page).

The discontinuous global page space is mapped into a contiguous local page space for each database by the entries in SYSUSAGES. Each entry associates a contiguous block of global pages (not necessarily an entire database device) with a range of local pages for a particular database. This is done by recording the starting global page number, the starting local page number, and the number of pages.

The local page space completely insulates each database from the complexity of the discontinuous global page-numbering system and allows each database to refer to its pages as though they were consecutively numbered starting with 0. Databases are expanded by adding contiguous blocks of pages to the end of local page space.

Part 3: SQL Server Disk-space Management

This is part 3 of the SQL Server disk-space management series. It covers space management within a database.

Space within each database is considered to be an array of fixed length: 2K pages. This is called local (or logical) page space, because the pages for each database are numbered consecutively beginning with zero. These page numbers are mapped to actual byte positions in one or more physical files by the information in SYSDEVICES and SYSSEGMENTS. This insulates each database from the complexities of managing discontinuous segments of physical page space spread over one or more physical files, which may be shared among other databases.

Space within each database is managed by allocation pages that occur every 256 pages. Each allocation page controls the next 255 pages. Pages are not controlled individually, but instead, in blocks of 8 contiguous pages. This approach requires fewer entries (32 versus 255) than if one entry were used for each page, and allows each entry to be longer (16 bytes versus 8 bytes) and still fit into a single allocation page.

The important items in an allocation entry are object ID, object type, and a bitmap showing which of the 8 pages in the block are actually in use. Allocation entries for the same object are chained together in a circular doubly-linked list of block-starting-page-number.

This approach has certain consequences. An 8-page block can contain data for only one object. Each index on an object is a different type object and thus requires a separate block of 8 pages. If a table containing a single byte is created, an entire 8-page block (16K) is allocated. If an index is created on that 1-byte table, another 8-page block must be allocated. No further allocations are required until either of the 8-page blocks is filled. An advantage of this approach is that data is physically clustered by object rather than spread out randomly.

The 8-page allocation granularity is the reason for the two values returned by the space-used commands: space allocated and space actually used.

Space within a page is managed by a free-space pointer, which is part of the page header. Also in the page header are logical page number, next page in chain, previous page in chain, and object ID of this object. Pages that contain data for the same object are linked together using the next and previous page numbers in a doubly-linked NULL terminated list. Data is close-packed within a page and the free-space pointer points to the first free byte in the page.

New items are added to the end of existing items if sufficient space is available in the page. If not, a new page must be spliced into the chain. Items cannot span pages (except for TEXT/IMAGE).

If a free page is available in the same 8-page block, it will be used; otherwise, a new 8-page block will have to be allocated to the object.

Space from deleted items is immediately available within the page, but a page remains allocated to the object even if it is empty, until all pages in the 8-page block are freed.

Updates that increase the length of variable-length items are handled by deleting the item, sliding the rest of the data down, and adding the longer item to the end. In data pages, logical sequence is maintained by a list of row pointers at the end of the page. The data in a page grows down toward the pointer list, and the pointer list grows up toward the data. If they meet, the page is full. When items are slid down to reclaim space freed by deletions, all of the pointers at the end of the page must also be updated. To avoid having to update indexes that may reference those pointers, pointers to deleted items are zeroed rather than removed.

Index pages do not have row pointers at the end of the page to maintain sequence (though an offset table is sometimes built on the fly if there is enough room at the end of the page. This helps scan performance). Space is opened up for insertions (and for updates that increase item length) by sliding the following items toward the end of the page. Deletions are handled by reversing the process.

All pages (normal data pages, index pages, text and image data pages, transaction log pages, and allocation pages) are controlled by the entry in the allocation page for that block of 8 pages. All pages for the same object (except allocation pages) are chained together by forward and back pointers in the page header. Free space in all pages (except allocation pages) is collected at the end of the page and controlled by a free-space pointer in the page header. Pages that contain normal table data (as opposed to index, text/image, log, or allocation data) have a list of pointers to each row in the page. This list is used to maintain the logical sequence of the data and to eliminate the updating of pointers in corresponding index pages when data rows are shifted around within a page.

Additional query words: 4.20 4.2a 4.20b

Keywords          : SSrvAdmin SSrvGen 
Version           : OS/2:4.2
Platform          : OS/2 
Issue type        : kbhowto 

Last Reviewed: March 6, 1999