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T-SQL Tuesday #43–Hello, Operator?

tsqltuesdayIt’s T-SQL Tuesday time, and this one is a bit of a challenge for me. Rob Farley is hosting, and asking for people to write on Plan Operators, those various elements that go into the execution plans in T-SQL. I don’t dive too deeply into these items, unlike some others, so I’m going to tackle this at a high level with something I learned a few years back, but a few years after I started working with execution plans.

T-SQL Tuesday is the monthly blog party from Adam Machanic. It’s the second Tuesday of each month and if you want to participate, watch for the announcement on Twitter, or Google search it and then publish a post on the specified day, GMT time. If you want to host, you need a blog, need to participate, and then contact Adam.

Parallel Operators

Many of us know that execution plans can be serial or parallel. Which plan we want depends on the situation, but you can determine which plan is being executed from the plan. However I didn’t know the depth to which I could determine the parallel plans from the images.

When I first looked at the Graphical Execution Plan Operator Icon page, I saw a lot of operators, many of which I’ve seen in the past. There’s a section for parallel operators, and if you look at it, you only see three items: the Distribute Streams, Repartition Streams, and Gather Streams icons. I’ve shown that section below.


These operators work to combine to separate out the data into separate parallel operators. If you see these items in your plan, you know there are some parallel operations.

However, do you know which operations are parallel?

If you look at the nonclustered index seek operator, it looks like this:


The description doesn’t say anything about this being serial or parallel. This icon is serial.

A parallel icon looks like the one shown in the image below (from Paul White’s Forcing a Parallel Query Execution Plan). It’s the lower right icon in the image.


Note that the icon has two arrows overlaid on it. In fact, this is a parallel plan that has a parallel clustered index scan, a parallel nonclustered index scan, two repartition streams (parallelism operators), a parallel merge join (top row, second from the left) and a gather streams (parallelism operator). Lots of parallel work being done.

If you look at an execution plan, you can tell which items are parallel with those two arrows overlaid on the icon.

Filed under: Blog Tagged: syndicated, T-SQL Tuesday

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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


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