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Posts Tagged ‘Logical Sort’

Clustered Index do “NOT” guarantee Physically Ordering or Sorting of Rows

June 2, 2013 9 comments

 
Myth: Lot of SQL Developers I’ve worked with and interviewed have this misconception, that Clustered Indexes are Physically Sorted and Non-Clustered Index are Logically Sorted. When I ask them reasons, all come with their own different versions.

I discussed about this in my previous post long time back, where I mentioned as per the MSDN that “Clustered Indexes do not guarantee Physical Ordering of rows in a Table”. And today in this post I’m going to provide an example to prove it.
 

Clustered Index is the table itself as its Leaf-Nodes contains the Data-Pages of the table. The Data-Pages are nothing but Doubly Linked-List Data-Structures linked to their leading & preceding Data-Pages. The Data-Pages and rows in them are Ordered by the Clustering Key. Thus there can be only one Clustered Index on a table.

When a new Clustered Index is created on a table, it reorganizes the table’s Data-Pages Physically so that the rows are Logically sorted. But when a tables goes through updates, like INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE operations then the index gets fragmented and thus the Physical Ordering of Data-Pages gets lost. But still the Data-Pages of the Clustered Index or the Table are chained together by Doubly Linked-List in Logical Order.

We will see this behavior in the following example:

USE AdventureWorks2012
GO

CREATE TABLE test (i INT PRIMARY KEY not null, j VARCHAR(2000))

INSERT INTO test (i,j)
SELECT 1, REPLICATE('a',100) UNION ALL
SELECT 2, REPLICATE('a',100) UNION ALL
SELECT 3, REPLICATE('a',100) UNION ALL
SELECT 5, REPLICATE('a',100) UNION ALL
SELECT 6, REPLICATE('a',100)

SELECT * FROM test

DBCC IND(AdventureWorks2012, 'test', -1);

DBCC TRACEON(3604);
DBCC PAGE (AdventureWorks2012, 1, 22517, 1);

As you can see above we inserted 5 records in a table having PK as Clustering Key with following values: 1,2,3,5,6. We skipped the value 4.
 

–> Here is the Output of DBCC PAGE command execute in the end:
The DBCC PAGE provides very descriptive Output, but here I’ve just extracted the useful information we need.

OFFSET TABLE:

Row - Offset                        
4 (0x4) - 556 (0x22c)           --> 1=6
3 (0x3) - 441 (0x1b9)           --> 1=5
2 (0x2) - 326 (0x146)           --> 1=3
1 (0x1) - 211 (0xd3)            --> 1=2    
0 (0x0) - 96  (0x60)		--> 1=1

It show the 5 rows with their memory allocated address in both decimal and hexadecimal formats, which is contiguous. Thus all the rows are Physically Ordered.
 

Now, let’s insert the value “4” that we skipped initially:

INSERT INTO test (i,j)
SELECT 4, REPLICATE('a',100)

SELECT * FROM test

DBCC IND(AdventureWorks2012, 'test', -1);

DBCC TRACEON(3604);
DBCC PAGE (AdventureWorks2012, 1, 22517, 1);

 

–> Here is the new Output of DBCC PAGE command execute in the end:

OFFSET TABLE:

Row - Offset                        
5 (0x5) - 556 (0x22c)           --> 1=6
4 (0x4) - 441 (0x1b9)           --> 1=5
3 (0x3) - 671 (0x29f)           --> 1=4           <-- new row added here
2 (0x2) - 326 (0x146)           --> 1=3
1 (0x1) - 211 (0xd3)            --> 1=2    
0 (0x0) - 96  (0x60)		--> 1=1

 
As you can see very clearly in the output above that the memory allocation address for the new row with PK value = “4” is 671, which is not in between and greater than the address of the last row i.e. 556. The memory address of the last 2 rows is unchanged (441 & 556) and the new row is not accommodated in between as per the sort order but at the end. There is no Physical Ordering and the new row is Logically Chained with other rows and thus is Logically and Ordered, similar to the image below:

Doubly LinkList

Myth Busted: Hope the above exercise clears that Clustered Indexes do not guarantee the Physical Ordering of Rows & Data Pages.

-- Final Cleanup
DROP TABLE test