5.4.1 About Memory Management

Memory management involves maintaining optimal sizes for the Oracle instance memory structures as demands on the database change. The memory that must be managed is the System Global Area (SGA) memory and the instance Program Global Area (PGA) memory. The instance PGA memory is the collection of memory allocations for all individual PGAs.

Beginning with Oracle Database 11g Release 1 (11.1), you can let the database manage the SGA memory and instance PGA memory completely. You designate only the total memory size to be used by the instance, and Oracle Database dynamically exchanges memory between the SGA and the instance PGA as needed to meet processing demands. This capability is referred to as automatic memory management. In this memory management mode, the database also dynamically tunes the sizes of the individual SGA components and the instance PGA.

To have more direct control over the sizes of the SGA and instance PGA, you can disable automatic memory management and enable automatic shared memory management.

  • With automatic shared memory management, you set target and maximum sizes for the SGA. Oracle Database then tunes the total size of the SGA to your designated target, and dynamically tunes the sizes of all SGA components.

  • When you enable automatic shared memory management, you can also enable automatic PGA memory management. With automatic PGA memory management, Oracle Database automatically performs memory management of instance PGA. Optionally, you can set a target size for the instance PGA, and the database then tunes the size of the instance PGA to your target, and dynamically tunes the sizes of individual PGAs.

If you want complete control of individual SGA component sizes, you can disable both automatic memory management and automatic shared memory management. This is called manual shared memory management. In this mode, you set the sizes of several individual SGA components, thereby determining the overall SGA size. You then manually tune these individual SGA components on an ongoing basis.

Manual shared memory management mode is intended for experienced DBAs only. Note that in this mode, automatic PGA memory management remains enabled.


Although it is possible to disable automatic PGA memory management, it is not recommended, and is not described in this manual.

Table 5-3 summarizes the various memory management modes that you can set for your database instance.

Table 5-3 Oracle Database Memory Management Modes

Memory Management Mode You Set Oracle Database Automatically Tunes

Automatic memory management

  • Total memory size for this instance

  • (Optional) Maximum memory size for this instance

  • Total SGA size

  • SGA component sizes

  • Instance PGA size

Automatic shared memory management and automatic PGA memory management

(Automatic memory management disabled)

  • SGA target size

  • (Optional) SGA maximum size

  • (Optional) Instance PGA target size

  • SGA component sizes

Manual shared memory management and automatic PGA memory management

(Automatic memory management and automatic shared memory management disabled)

  • Shared pool size

  • Buffer cache size

  • Java pool size

  • Large pool size

  • (Optional) Instance PGA target size

  • Instance PGA size


Automatic Memory Management is not available on all platforms. See Oracle Database Administrator's Guide for more information about supported platforms.

If you choose the basic installation option when you install the database, then automatic memory management is enabled. If you choose advanced installation, then Database Configuration Assistant (DBCA) enables you to select from the three memory management modes. Oracle recommends that you enable automatic memory management.

Whichever memory management mode you choose, you may have occasion to adjust memory settings as demands on the database or on its host computer change. Reasons why you adjust memory settings include the following:

  • You receive a memory-related alert or error message.

  • You receive a memory-related recommendation from Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor (ADDM).

  • You want to change the amount of memory allocated to accommodate future growth in memory demand.

You can use a memory advisor to help you adjust memory sizes. See "Modifying Memory Settings – Automatic Shared Memory Management" for an example of using a memory advisor.


The initialization parameters that are used to manage memory are set in the root of a multitenant container database (CDB), and the values set for those parameters are applied to all of the pluggable databases (PDBs) in the CDB.