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The Top New Features of Oracle 12.1.0.2 by an Oracle Master

Finally Oracle Database 12.1.0.2 is in general availability and available for download and use so we asked dsp’s resident Oracle Database Master to give us his thoughts on the latest release and the top new features and improvements:

If you are an Oracle technologist or an Oracle professional interested in improving your productivity and enhancing the availability, performance and maintainability of your Oracle ecosystem then you can look at this article providing a glimpse of the new Oracle 12.1.0.2 features. On 27th July 2014 Oracle released patch 17694377 for upgrading to Oracle 12.1.0.2. Oracle 12.1.0.2 offers a lot of new features. The most important features that will improve your productivity, efficiency and effectiveness are listed below.

1. Oracle Database In-Memory: As opposed to the traditional pre Oracle 12.1.0.2 processing Oracle 12.1.0.2 offers a flexible alternative activated with a flip of a switch that store the conventional table data into the SGA in a In Memory Column store that stores the whole table, table partitions, and individual columns in compressed columnar format. In memory techniques scan columnar data very rapidly. This feature became available with the advances in technology where RAM and CPU resources are not a limitation anymore. Presence of many CPUs and Memory enable the system to build very fast a columnar representation of the traditional relational table data. Note that in memory column store is an alternative complementing the traditional database buffer cache that still remains available for use.

2. Automatic Big table caching enables systems with ample resources to cache larger tables. Database initialization parameter DB_BIG_TABLE_CACHE_PERCENT_TARGE controls this behaviour. If the latter parameter is set to a non-zero value a caching happens. Depending on the settings of the PARALLEL_DEGREE_POLICY, if it is set to auto or adaptive, a parallel scanning happens in memory otherwise the objects are scanned serially.

3. In the area of backup and recovery Oracle offers an extended layer of security, better performance and scalability. The new feature in Oracle 12.1.0.2 is that Oracle RMAN catalog is deployed and administered using the Virtual Private database (VPD).

4. Database utilities for export/import like Data Pump are with extended support for the new columnar data storage. Furthermore, Data Pump can modify – keep, override and drop – the storage clauses of the objects that are imported.

5. Oracle offers a brand new feature enabling you to store the database in the buffer cache resulting in huge performance gains.

6. The attribute clustering feature introduced by Oracle enables you to store table data in close proximity on disk resulting in better performance, reduced I/O and storage optimization.

7. The zone map feature enables you to store in a contiguous data blocks on disk the minimum and maximum value of a column for this zone resulting in a reduction of the I/O required to retrieve the data.

8. The advance index compression feature enables you to benefit from a good balance between an excellent compression at block level and fast efficient access to the indexed data.

9. Oracle further extends the multi-tenant architecture introduced in 12.1.0.1 with a series of new features such as: Oracle 12.1.0.2 enables you to preserve the open mode of PDB when CDB restarts, Oracle 12.1.0.2 enables to exclude data when you clone a PDB, You are also enabled to create a PDB by cloning a non-CDB to name a few.

10. Oracle 12.1.0.2 introduces new features Related to Oracle Data Guard SQL Apply that enable you to determine easier if there are unsupported tables if you perform a rolling upgrade using the DBMS_ROLLING PL/SQL package.

11. Oracle 12.1.0.2 provides series of new features for the data warehousing. The In-Memory aggregation feature introduced in Oracle 12.1.0.2 using the VECTOR GROUP BY operation tremendously improves query performance while joining relatively small tables to a large table and aggregates the data. This feature results in optimized processing and minimized usage of resources. Oracle data warehousing in 12.1.0.2 can also benefit from the features listed above such as Big Table Caching, Table Zone maps, Attribute clustering and Oracle in-Memory column store to name a few.

12. Oracle 12.1.0.2 extends the functionality of Oracle Clusterware by Rapid home provisioning, Support for diagnosability framework and automatic installation of Grid infrastructure Management repository to name a few.

13. Oracle 12.1.0.2 extended the functionality of Oracle RAC by adding In-Memory Column Store explained above, In-Memory Transaction Memory is a special engine that is responsible for providing read consistency for transactions issued against the In-Memory Column Store. This engine is crucial because table and partitions are once stored in the In-Memory Column Store in columnar format and also are stored in a row major format in the oracle database datafiles and the database buffer cache. Rapid home provisioning is also available in Oracle RAC 12.1.0.2. Full in memory database caching feature described above is also available in Oracle RAC 12.1.0.2.

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