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The hidden cost of CONVERT_IMPLICIT() … —

There are numerous articles on the web about CONVERT_IMPLICIT() and how it can impact performance of queries in SQL Server. Recently I had cause to look at a SQL statement that referenced tables in two databases on the same SQL Server instance but running on different Peopletools releases. As one system is on PeopleTools 8.49 and the other is on 8.53, there is an underlying difference in how character table columns are created – 8.49 uses CHAR(), 8.53 uses NVARCHAR().

However, when you join tables from the 8.49 system to the 8.53 system on a character column such as EMPLID, SQL Server data type precedence rules will silently add a CONVERT_IMPLICIT() around the 8.49 CHAR() column to “upgrade it” to an NVARCHAR(). Therein lies a performance issue – with large tables on the 8.49 side we see significant spills to TempDB and even TempDB exhaustion in the worst case. Execution plans are adversely affected as a result of the loss of cardinality information as well.

The fix? CAST( … AS CHAR()) around the 8.53 column e.g.



The moral of course of the story is always check your data types – especially if you are joining pre-8.5x and post-8.5x PeopleTools versions.

This is, of course, a generic issue. The Case for Specifying Data Types and Query Performance is an excellent article on the problems you might encounter using .Net or ORM database abstraction layers if you fail to specify your data types correctly.


Categorised as: Peoplesoft | PeopleTools | SQL | SQL Server | Tuning

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