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Chapter 8. Setting Semaphores

Semaphores can best be described as counters which are used to provide synchronization between processes or between threads within a process for shared resources like shared memories. System V semaphores support semaphore sets where each one is a counting semaphore. So when an application requests semaphores, the kernel releases them in sets. The number of semaphores per set can be defined through the kernel parameter SEMMSL.
To see all semaphore settings, run:
ipcs -ls

8.1. The SEMMSL Parameter

This parameter defines the maximum number of semaphores per semaphore set.
Oracle recommends SEMMSL to be at least 250 for 9i R2 and 10g R1/R2 databases except for 9i R2 on x86 platforms where the minimum value is lower. Since these recommendations are minimum settings, it is best to set it always to at least 250 for 9i and 10g databases on x86 and x86-64 platforms.


If a database gets thousands of concurrent connections where the ora.init parameter PROCESSES is very large, then SEMMSL should be larger as well. Note what Metalink Note:187405.1 and Note:184821.1 have to say regarding SEMMSL: "The SEMMSL setting should be 10 plus the largest PROCESSES parameter of any Oracle database on the system". Even though these notes talk about 9i databases this SEMMSL rule also applies to 10g databases. I have seen low SEMMSL settings to be an issue for 10g RAC databases where Oracle recommended to increase SEMMSL and to calculate it according to the rule mentioned in these notes. An example for setting semaphores for higher PROCESSES settings can be found at Section 8.6, “An Example of Semaphore Settings”.