Asynchronous prefetch issues I/O requests for pages before the query needs them so that most pages are in cache by the time query processing needs to access the page. If required pages are already in cache, the query does not yield the engine to wait for the physical read. (It may still yield for other reasons, but it yields less frequently.)
Based on the type of query being executed, asynchronous prefetch builds a look-ahead set of pages that it predicts will be needed very soon. Adaptive Server defines different look-ahead sets for each processing type where asynchronous prefetch is used.
In some cases, look-ahead sets are extremely precise; in others, some assumptions and speculation may lead to pages being fetched that are never read. When only a small percentage of unneeded pages are read into cache, the performance gains of asynchronous prefetch far outweigh the penalty for the wasted reads. If the number of unused pages becomes large, Adaptive Server detects this condition and either reduces the size of the look-ahead set or temporarily disables prefetching.