You may know about Intra-block row chaining which may occur when the number of columns in a table are more than 255 columns.
But do you know that intra-block chaining works with inserts only? not updates!
When a table has more than 255 columns, rows that have data after the 255th column are likely to be chained within the same block. This is called intra-block chaining. A chained row’s pieces are chained together using the rowids of the pieces. With intra-block chaining, users receive all the data in the same block. If the row fits in the block, users do not see an effect in I/O performance, because no extra I/O operation is required to retrieve the rest of the row.
A bit more details:
1. One row piece can store up to 255 columns
2. Oracle splits fields by row pieces in reverse order
3. Oracle doesn’t store trailing null fields in a row (not in row piece)
4. Next row piece can be stored in the same block only with inserts. When you run update, oracle will place new row piece into another block.
I’ll show in examples with dumps: