The puzzle of U locks in deadlock graphs

May 12th, 2010

In a question the user has asked how come a SELECT statement could own a U mode lock?

S-U-X deadlock graph

S-U-X deadlock graph

The deadlock indeed suggests that the deadlock victim, a SELECT statement, is owning an U lock on the PK_B index. Why would a SELECT own an U lock? The query had no table hints and was a standalone query, not part of a multi-statement transaction that could had aquired the U lock in previous staements.

Turns out that the SELECT was actually not owning any U lock. The deadlock graph files (the *.xdl files) are in fact XML files and they can be opened as XML and inspected, for a little more detail than the visual deadlock graph visualizer permits. Here is the actual resource list in the deadlock XML:

   <keylock hobtid="72057594052411392" dbid="10"
         objectname="A" indexname="PK_A" id="lock17ed4040"
        mode="X" associatedObjectId="72057594052411392">
     <owner id="process4f5d000" mode="X"/>
     <waiter id="processfa3c8e0" mode="S" requestType="wait"/>
   <keylock hobtid="72057594051166208" dbid="10"
        objectname="B" indexname="PK_B" id="lock22ea3940"
        mode="U" associatedObjectId="72057594051166208">
     <owner id="processfa3c8e0" mode="S"/>
     <waiter id="process4f5d000" mode="X" requestType="convert"/>

As you can see, the resource lock22ea3940 is owned by the process processfa3c8e0 (the SELECT) indeed, but is owned in S mode. The process process4f5d000 (the UPDATE) is requesting this resource for a convert from U to X mode. So the true deadlock is like this:

  • SELECT owns a lock on the row in PK_B in S mode
  • SELECT wants a lock on the row in PK_A in S mode
  • UPDATE owns a lock on the row in PK_A in X mode
  • UPDATE also owns a U lock on the PK_B row. (S and U modes are compatible)
  • UPDATE is requesting a convert of the U lock it has on the row on PK_B to X mode

As you can see, there is no mysterious U lock owned by the SELECT. There is an U lock on the row in PK_B, but is owned by the UPDATE, which is requesting a convert to X for it. The fact that the resource is showned in the deadlock graph viewer in SSMS as being ‘Owner mode: U’ and pointing to the SELECT is simply an artifact of how SSMS displays the deadlock graph.

The lesson to take home is that the visual graphic deadlock graph display is usefull only to have a cursory glance at the deadlock cycle. The true meat and potatoes are in the XML, which has a lot more information. Not to mention that the information in the XML is actually correct, which helps investigation…

Effective Speakers at Portland #devsat and #sqlsat27

May 11th, 2010

Which is faster: ++i or i++?

In 1998 I was looking to change jobs and I interviewed with a company for a C++ developer position. The interview went well and as we were approaching the end, one of the interviewers asked me this question: which is faster ++i or i++? I pondered the question a second, then the other interviewer said that is probably implementation specific. The first one corrected him that i++ must return the value before the increment therefore it must make a copy of itself, while ++i returns the value after the increment therefore does not need to make a copy of itself, it can return itself. With this my chance to actually answer the question and their chance to see how I approach the problem were gone, but the interview was finished anyway as we were out of time. I got the offer from them, yet I ended up with a different company. But that question lingered in my mind, I though what a clever little thing to know. Few months later I got my hands on the Effective C++ book by Scott Meyers, and this opened my appetite for the follow up book More Effective C++. And there it was, item 6 in More Effective C++: Distinguish between prefix and postfix forms of forms of increment and decrement operators.

These two books were tremendously important in forming me as a professional C++ developer. They got me starting in studying C++ more deeply, beyond what I had to use in my day to day job. I ended up taking a Brainbench C++ test and I scored in the top 10 worldwide, which pretty soon landed me an email from Microsoft recruiting. The rest, as they say, is history.

SQL Saturday #27 is going to be held on May 22 in Portland and will share the venue with Portland CodeCamp. The list of speakers is really impressive, and amongst them, you guessed, is Scott Meyers presenting CPU Caches and Why You Care. There are many more fine speakers and interesting topics for every taste, and the event is free. Is worth your time if you’re in the area, and well worth a trip to the City of Roses if you’re not.

I myself will be presenting a session on High Volume Real Time Contiguous ETL and Audit.

To register with the CodeCamp and SQL Saturday events go to