v$osstat anomaly

The v$osstat view shows certain OS-level metics such as number of CPUs, current system load, accumulated IO time, etc. Starting in 10gR2, it also records PHYSICAL_MEMORY_BYTES, which is the total size of physical memory on the server. See the documentation.

I think I found an anomaly. On one particular database I take care of (version 10.2.0.3 running on RedHat 4 64-bit), PHYSICAL_MEMORY_BYTES appears to be the amount of free memory available on the system, not total memory size like it says in the docs.

On that system, if I run the following two commands from within sqlplus —

SQL> ho cat /proc/meminfo |grep ^MemFree |tr -s ' ' |cut -d' ' -f2
SQL> select value from v$osstat
  where stat_name='PHYSICAL_MEMORY_BYTES';

…the results are really, really close. Less than a few dozen bytes apart. This leads me to believe that on this particular database, v$osstat is getting its value for PHYSICAL_MEMORY_BYTES from free memory, not from total memory.

DBA_HIST_OSSTAT tracks this value over time. It should not change unless you are changing the amount of installed memory on your server. But here is how PHYSICAL_MEMORY_BYTES changes on my RHEL4 64-bit 10.2.0.3 system:

select * from (
  select snap_id, value
    , value-lag(value) over(order by snap_id) delta
  from dba_hist_osstat
  where stat_name='PHYSICAL_MEMORY_BYTES'
  order by snap_id
) where rownum <= 50
/
   SNAP_ID      VALUE      DELTA
---------- ---------- ----------
     28389    2220048
     28390    2171328     -48720
     28391    1938152    -233176
     28392    2131860     193708
     28393    2123272      -8588
     28394    2097128     -26144
     28395    2070008     -27120
     28396    2068092      -1916
     28397    2076164       8072
     28398    2059132     -17032
     28399    2045440     -13692
     28400    2037288      -8152
...

A 10.2.0.4 database installed on identical hardware/OS reports no change in PHYSICAL_MEMORY_BYTES:

   SNAP_ID      VALUE      DELTA
---------- ---------- ----------
     29125 8359936000
     29126 8359936000          0
     29127 8359936000          0
     29128 8359936000          0
     29129 8359936000          0
     29130 8359936000          0
     29131 8359936000          0
     29132 8359936000          0
     29133 8359936000          0

…so I am tempted to suppose that this is a 10gR2 bug that was fixed in 10.2.0.4. However, I checked on a 10.2.0.2 database running on Windows, and there is no anomaly:

  SNAP_ID      VALUE      DELTA
--------- ---------- ----------
    43747 4093104128
    43748 4093104128          0
    43749 4093104128          0
    43750 4093104128          0
    43751 4093104128          0
    43752 4093104128          0
    43753 4093104128          0
    43754 4093104128          0
    43755 4093104128          0
    43756 4093104128          0
    43757 4093104128          0

It appears that this is either a Linux-specific bug that was fixed in 10.2.0.4, or perhaps a bug that only occurs in 10.2.0.3 (I don’t have a 10.2.0.3 database running on Windows to test this out on). However, I could find no mention of this as a bug on Metalink.

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