Oracle lock escalation and conversion 

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November 21, 2009 02:07:07    Last update: September 10, 2013 18:51:14
This is from Oracle 10g documentation.

Data Lock Conversion Versus Lock Escalation

A transaction holds exclusive row locks for all rows inserted, updated, or deleted within the transaction. Because row locks are acquired at the highest degree of restrictiveness, no lock conversion is required or performed.

Oracle automatically converts a table lock of lower restrictiveness to one of higher restrictiveness as appropriate. For example, assume that a transaction uses a SELECT statement with the FOR UPDATE clause to lock rows of a table. As a result, it acquires the exclusive row locks and a row share table lock for the table. If the transaction later updates one or more of the locked rows, the row share table lock is automatically converted to a row exclusive table lock.

Lock escalation occurs when numerous locks are held at one level of granularity (for example, rows) and a database raises the locks to a higher level of granularity (for example, table). For example, if a single user locks many rows in a table, some databases automatically escalate the user's row locks to a single table. The number of locks is reduced, but the restrictiveness of what is being locked is increased.

Oracle never escalates locks. Lock escalation greatly increases the likelihood of deadlocks. Imagine the situation where the system is trying to escalate locks on behalf of transaction T1 but cannot because of the locks held by transaction T2. A deadlock is created if transaction T2 also requires lock escalation of the same data before it can proceed.
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