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Here's the link.
The term obsolete does not mean the same as expired. A backup is obsolete when REPORT OBSOLETE or DELETE OBSOLETE determines, based on the user-defined retention policy, that it is not needed for recovery. A backup is considered expired only when RMAN performs a crosscheck and cannot find the file. In short, obsolete means "not needed," whereas expired means "not found."
Delete obsolete versus delete expired
A status of "expired" means that the backup piece or backup set is not found in the backup destination.
A status of "obsolete" means the backup piece is still available, but it is no longer needed.
Edited by: Anantha R on Jan 13, 2010 8:29 AM