CUBRID uses a granularity locking protocol to decrease the number of locks. In the granularity locking protocol, a database can be modeled as a hierarchy of lockable units: bigger locks have more granular locks.
For example, suppose that a database consists of multiple tables and each table consists of multiple instances. If the database is locked, all tables and instances are implicitly considered to be locked. A lock on a big unit results in less overhead, because only one lock needs to be managed. However, it leads to decreased concurrency because almost all concurrent transactions conflict with each other. The finer the granularity, the better the concurrency; it causes more overhead because more locks need to be managed. CUBRID selects a locking granularity level based on the operation being executed. For example, if a transaction retrieves all instances of a table, the entire tables will be locked, rather than each instance. If the transaction accesses a few instances of the table, the instances are locked individually.
If the locking granularities overlap, effects of a finer granularity are propagated in order to prevent conflicts. That is, if a shared lock is required on an instance of a table, an intention shared lock will be set on the table. If an exclusive lock is required on an instance of a table, an intention exclusive lock will be set on the table. An intention shared lock on a table means that a shared lock can be set on an instance of the table. An intention exclusive lock on a table means that a shared/exclusive lock can be set on an instance of the table. That is, if an intention shared lock on a table is allowed in one transaction, another transaction cannot obtain an exclusive lock on the table (for example, to add a new column). However, the second transaction may obtain a shared lock on the table. If an intention exclusive lock on the table is allowed in one transaction, another transaction cannot obtain a shared lock on the table (for example, a query on an instance of the tables cannot be executed because it is being changed).
A mechanism called lock escalation is used to limit the number of locks being managed. If a transaction has more than a certain number of locks (a number which can be changed by the lock_escalation system parameter), the system begins to require locks at the next higher level of granularity. This escalates the locks to a coarser level of granularity. CUBRID performs lock escalation when no transactions have a higher level of granularity in order to avoid a deadlock caused by lock conversion.