Execution plan caching for stored procedures and parametrized queries

Arseni Mourzenko
Founder and lead developer
170
articles
March 12, 2016
Tags: performance 13

Read­ing dif­fer­ent ex­pla­na­tions about ex­e­cu­tion plan caching by Mi­crosoft SQL Serv­er, I found very con­fus­ing the dis­cus­sion about the ben­e­fits of us­ing stored pro­ce­dures in­stead of pa­ram­e­trized queries.

While some re­li­able sources men­tion no dif­fer­ence be­tween stored pro­ce­dures and or­di­nary queries when dis­cussing ex­e­cu­tion plan caching, oth­er sources claim that ex­e­cu­tion plans are cached ex­clu­sive­ly for stored pro­ce­dures (em­pha­sis mine):

When it comes to ex­e­cut­ing ad hoc queries, query plans are cre­at­ed based on com­plete code, so dif­fer­ent pa­ra­me­ters or any change in code will pre­vent reuse of the ex­ist­ing plan.

I asked the ques­tion on Stack Ex­change and re­ceived an an­swer. While the an­swer was ac­cept­able, it wasn't au­thor­i­ta­tive enough and wasn't backed by any con­crete el­e­ments. So I de­cid­ed to dig a bit. That's what I've found.

Prepar­ing the bench­marks

In or­der to find it out, I did some tests. The goal is to have the same pa­ram­e­trized query ex­e­cut­ed ei­ther di­rect­ly from C# or by call­ing a stored pro­ce­dure and to com­pare the run­time per­for­mance.

I start­ed to cre­ate a stored pro­ce­dure which does a sam­ple query us­ing Ad­ven­ture Works data­base:

create procedure Demo
    @minPrice int 
as
begin
    set nocount on;

    select top 1 [p].[Name], [p].[ProductNumber], [ph].[ListPrice]
    from [Production].[Product] p
    inner join [Production].[ProductListPriceHistory] ph
    on [p].[ProductID] = ph.[ProductID]
    and ph.[StartDate] =
    (
        select top 1 [ph2].[StartDate]
        from [Production].[ProductListPriceHistory] ph2
        where [ph2].[ProductID] = [p].[ProductID]
        order by [ph2].[StartDate] desc
    )
    where [p].[ListPrice] > @minPrice
end

Then, I use the fol­low­ing piece of code to com­pare the per­for­mances:

long RunQuery(SqlConnection connection, int minPrice)
{
    const string Query = @"
    select top 1 [p].[Name], [p].[ProductNumber], [ph].[ListPrice]
    from [Production].[Product] p
    inner join [Production].[ProductListPriceHistory] ph
    on [p].[ProductID] = ph.[ProductID]
    and ph.[StartDate] =
    (
        select top 1 [ph2].[StartDate]
        from [Production].[ProductListPriceHistory] ph2
        where [ph2].[ProductID] = [p].[ProductID]
        order by [ph2].[StartDate] desc
    )
    where [p].[ListPrice] > @minPrice
    option (recompile)";

    using (var command = new SqlCommand(Query, connection))
    {
        command.Parameters.AddWithValue("@minPrice", minPrice);
        var stopwatch = Stopwatch.StartNew();
        command.ExecuteNonQuery();
        stopwatch.Stop();
        return stopwatch.ElapsedMilliseconds;
    }
}

long RunStoredProcedure(SqlConnection connection, int minPrice)
{
    using (var command = new SqlCommand("exec Demo @minPrice with recompile", connection))
    {
        command.Parameters.AddWithValue("@minPrice", minPrice);
        var stopwatch = Stopwatch.StartNew();
        command.ExecuteNonQuery();
        stopwatch.Stop();
        return stopwatch.ElapsedMilliseconds;
    }
}

ICollection<long> Execute(Func<SqlConnection, int, long> action)
{
    using (var connection = new SqlConnection("Server=.;Database=AdventureWorks2014;Trusted_Connection=True;"))
    {
        connection.Open();
        using (var command = new SqlCommand("DBCC FreeProcCache; DBCC DropCleanbuffers;", connection))
        {
            command.ExecuteNonQuery();
        }
        
        return Enumerable.Range(0, 100).Select(i => action(connection, i)).ToList();
    }
}

void Main()
{
    var queries = Execute(RunQuery);
    var storedProcedures = Execute(RunStoredProcedure);
    
    Console.WriteLine("Stored procedures: {0} ms. Details: {1}.", storedProcedures.Sum(), string.Join(", ", storedProcedures));
    Console.WriteLine("Queries: {0} ms. Details: {1}.", queries.Sum(), string.Join(", ", queries));
}

No­tice option (recompile) and with recompile. This will force SQL Serv­er to dis­card pre­vi­ous­ly cached ex­e­cu­tion plans.

Each query is run une hun­dred times with a dif­fer­ent pa­ra­me­ter every time. The time spent by the serv­er is mea­sured at client side.

By run­ning DBCC FreeProcCache; DBCC DropCleanbuffers; be­fore gath­er­ing met­rics, I make sure that all pre­vi­ous­ly cached ex­e­cu­tion plans are re­moved.

Run­ning this code gives the fol­low­ing out­put:

Stored pro­ce­dures: 786 ms. De­tails: 12, 7, 7, 9, 7, 7, 9, 8, 8, 6, 8, 9, 8, 8, 14, 8, 7, 8, 7, 10, 10, 7, 9, 6, 9, 8, 8, 7, 7, 10, 8, 7, 7, 6, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 14, 8, 8, 8, 7, 9, 8, 8, 7, 6, 6, 12, 7, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 6, 7, 7, 7, 12, 8, 6, 6, 7, 8, 7, 8, 8, 7, 11, 8, 7, 8, 8, 7, 9, 8, 9, 10, 8, 7, 7, 8, 8, 7, 9, 7, 6, 9, 7, 6, 9, 8, 6, 6, 6.
Queries: 799 ms. De­tails: 21, 8, 8, 7, 6, 6, 11, 7, 6, 6, 9, 8, 8, 7, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 10, 8, 8, 7, 8, 7, 6, 11, 19, 10, 8, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 9, 7, 9, 7, 7, 8, 7, 12, 9, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 16, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9, 8, 7, 9, 8, 7, 8, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 12, 7, 9, 9, 7, 7, 7, 7, 9, 8, 7, 8, 11, 8.

Let's run it again:

Stored pro­ce­dures: 763 ms. De­tails: 11, 8, 10, 8, 8, 14, 10, 6, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 9, 6, 6, 6, 8, 6, 6, 7, 6, 8, 7, 16, 8, 7, 8, 9, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 11, 10, 7, 6, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 10, 9, 9, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 10, 9, 10, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 7, 6, 6, 7, 8, 9, 7, 8, 7, 10, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, 11, 13, 8, 7, 10, 9, 8, 8, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7.
Queries: 752 ms. De­tails: 25, 10, 8, 8, 12, 8, 7, 9, 9, 8, 6, 7, 7, 6, 8, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 10, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 9, 7, 6, 6, 6, 7, 13, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 10, 7, 7, 8, 9, 8, 7, 6, 6, 7, 7, 9, 7, 8, 6, 9, 7, 7, 8, 7, 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 7, 8, 7, 7, 6, 7, 9, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 6, 9, 7, 7.

It seems that the per­for­mance is very close be­tween stored pro­ce­dures and di­rect queries. Run­ning the code a dozen times, I no­tice that stored pro­ce­dures seem to be slight­ly fast, but the gap is very nar­row. Pos­si­bly pass­ing around the whole query cre­ates this ad­di­tion­al cost, which may in­crease if SQL Serv­er is host­ed on a ded­i­cat­ed ma­chine with a slow LAN be­tween it and the ap­pli­ca­tion serv­er.

Let's now turn ex­e­cu­tion plan caching on and see what hap­pens. To do this, I re­move option (recompile) and with recompile from the code. Here's the new out­put:

Stored pro­ce­dures: 26 ms. De­tails: 23, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0.
Queries: 15 ms. De­tails: 14, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0.

It be­comes clear that caching has ex­act­ly the same ef­fect for both di­rect queries and stored pro­ce­dures. In both cas­es, it re­duces the time to near­ly zero mil­lisec­onds, and the most ex­pen­sive query is the first one—the one which runs af­ter the re­moval of cached ex­e­cu­tion plans.

Run­ning the same code again shows a sim­i­lar pat­tern. Some­times, queries are faster, and some­times stored pro­ce­dures are. But every time, the first query is the most ex­pen­sive one, and all oth­ers are close to zero mil­lisec­onds.

Re­open­ing SQL con­nec­tion

If the SQL con­nec­tion is opened for every query, such as in this slight­ly mod­i­fied code:

long RunQuery(string connectionString, int minPrice)
{
    const string Query = @"
    select top 1 [p].[Name], [p].[ProductNumber], [ph].[ListPrice]
    from [Production].[Product] p
    inner join [Production].[ProductListPriceHistory] ph
    on [p].[ProductID] = ph.[ProductID]
    and ph.[StartDate] =
    (
        select top 1 [ph2].[StartDate]
        from [Production].[ProductListPriceHistory] ph2
        where [ph2].[ProductID] = [p].[ProductID]
        order by [ph2].[StartDate] desc
    )
    where [p].[ListPrice] > @minPrice
    option (recompile)";

    using (var connection = new SqlConnection(connectionString))
    {
        connection.Open();
        using (var command = new SqlCommand(Query, connection))
        {
            command.Parameters.AddWithValue("@minPrice", minPrice);
            var stopwatch = Stopwatch.StartNew();
            command.ExecuteNonQuery();
            stopwatch.Stop();
            return stopwatch.ElapsedMilliseconds;
        }
    }
}

long RunStoredProcedure(string connectionString, int minPrice)
{
    using (var connection = new SqlConnection(connectionString))
    {
        connection.Open();
        using (var command = new SqlCommand("exec Demo @minPrice with recompile", connection))
        {
            command.Parameters.AddWithValue("@minPrice", minPrice);
            var stopwatch = Stopwatch.StartNew();
            command.ExecuteNonQuery();
            stopwatch.Stop();
            return stopwatch.ElapsedMilliseconds;
        }
    }
}

ICollection<long> Execute(Func<string, int, long> action)
{
    var connectionString = "Server=.;Database=AdventureWorks2014;Trusted_Connection=True;";
    using (var connection = new SqlConnection(connectionString))
    {
        connection.Open();
        using (var command = new SqlCommand("DBCC FreeProcCache; DBCC DropCleanbuffers;", connection))
        {
            command.ExecuteNonQuery();
        }
    }
    
    return Enumerable.Range(0, 100).Select(i => action(connectionString, i)).ToList();
}

void Main()
{
    var queries = Execute(RunQuery);
    var storedProcedures = Execute(RunStoredProcedure);
    
    Console.WriteLine("Stored procedures: {0} ms. Details: {1}.", storedProcedures.Sum(), string.Join(", ", storedProcedures));
    Console.WriteLine("Queries: {0} ms. Details: {1}.", queries.Sum(), string.Join(", ", queries));
}

the ob­served met­rics are very sim­i­lar:

Stored pro­ce­dures: 748 ms. De­tails: 11, 8, 6, 6, 8, 9, 9, 8, 8, 7, 6, 8, 7, 9, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 9, 6, 6, 7, 6, 6, 7, 8, 6, 7, 7, 7, 13, 7, 7, 8, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 7, 8, 8, 8, 9, 7, 6, 8, 7, 6, 7, 6, 6, 6, 6, 8, 12, 7, 9, 9, 6, 7, 7, 7, 8, 10, 12, 8, 7, 6, 9, 8, 7, 6, 6, 7, 8, 6, 6, 12, 7, 8, 10, 10, 7, 8, 7, 8, 10, 8, 7, 8, 7.
Queries: 761 ms. De­tails: 31, 9, 7, 6, 6, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 8, 7, 6, 6, 7, 10, 8, 10, 9, 7, 7, 7, 7, 10, 13, 7, 10, 7, 6, 6, 6, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 9, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 9, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 8, 10, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 6, 10, 10, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 6, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7, 9, 7, 6, 6, 12, 10, 7, 6.

with option (recompile) and with recompile and:

Stored pro­ce­dures: 15 ms. De­tails: 14, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0.
Queries: 32 ms. De­tails: 26, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0.

with­out.

Un­der the hood

Let's see what hap­pens un­der the hood. The fol­low­ing query shows cached ex­e­cu­tion plans:

select usecounts, size_in_bytes, cacheobjtype, objtype, text 
from sys.dm_exec_cached_plans 
cross apply sys.dm_exec_sql_text(plan_handle)
where cacheobjtype = 'Compiled Plan'
order by usecounts desc

When run­ning this query af­ter ex­e­cut­ing the stored pro­ce­dures one hun­dred times, the re­sult of the query looks like this:

usecounts   size_in_bytes cacheobjtype                                       objtype              text
----------- ------------- -------------------------------------------------- -------------------- ---------------------------------------------------
100         90112         Compiled Plan                                      Proc                 create procedure Demo
    @minPrice int 
as
begin
    set nocount on;

    select top 1 [p].[Name], [p].[ProductNumber], [ph].[ListPrice]
    from [Production].[Product] p
    inner join [Production].[ProductListPriceHistory] ph
    on [p].[ProductID] = ph.[Product
100         16384         Compiled Plan                                      Prepared             (@minPrice int)exec Demo @minPrice --with recompile
1           49152         Compiled Plan                                      Adhoc                --DBCC FreeProcCache
--DBCC DropCleanbuffers

select usecounts, size_in_bytes, cacheobjtype, objtype, text 
from sys.dm_exec_cached_plans 
cross apply sys.dm_exec_sql_text(plan_handle)
where cacheobjtype = 'Compiled Plan'
order by usecounts desc

(3 row(s) affected)

When run­ning the query di­rect­ly one hun­dred times, the re­sult is:

usecounts   size_in_bytes cacheobjtype                                       objtype              text
----------- ------------- -------------------------------------------------- -------------------- ---------------------------------------------------
100         73728         Compiled Plan                                      Prepared             (@minPrice int)
    select top 1 [p].[Name], [p].[ProductNumber], [ph].[ListPrice]
    from [Production].[Product] p
    inner join [Production].[ProductListPriceHistory] ph
    on [p].[ProductID] = ph.[ProductID]
    and ph.[StartDate] =
    (
        select top 1 [ph2].[
1           49152         Compiled Plan                                      Adhoc                --DBCC FreeProcCache
--DBCC DropCleanbuffers

select usecounts, size_in_bytes, cacheobjtype, objtype, text 
from sys.dm_exec_cached_plans 
cross apply sys.dm_exec_sql_text(plan_handle)
where cacheobjtype = 'Compiled Plan'
order by usecounts desc

(2 row(s) affected)

Con­clu­sion