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Oracle Database 12c introduces the Parallel Upgrade Utility (catctl.pl), which enables components that do not have to be upgraded in a specific order to be upgraded at the same time, taking full advantage of CPU capacity. The Parallel Upgrade Utility reduces the total amount of time it takes to perform an upgrade by loading the database dictionary in parallel using multiple SQL processes to upgrade the database.
-n specifies the number of processes to use for parallel operations (default = 4). The maximum is 8. Set this parameter to 0 to run catctl.pl in serial mode.