Memory Grant Internals Part 2

This post is the continuation of the series to the post Memory Grant Internals part 1

Once the query optimizer finish its job, the query processor will start its job. Query processor will first looks for the importance of the query based on the work load group. So, what is this workload group? To know what it is, we need to Dive deep into Resource Governor. As we are dedicating this series to dive deep into the memory Grant internals, lets focus this post on Resource governor which handles the memory grants for our queries.

Resource Governor

Resource Governor is introduced in SQL Server 2008. Resource governor job is to control and manage the consumption of the CPU, Memory and IOPS resources used by the incoming requests. Resource governor will ensure that one run away query is not consuming the entire memory.

Resource Governor

There are three different components in the resource governor.

  1. Resource Pool: Small percentage of CPU, Memory and IOPS resources are collectively called as the resource pool.
  2. Workload Group: You can define the connections based on the priority is known as Workload group.
  3. Classifier: Classifier is a User defined function created in the master database in which we mention the predefined criteria to classify the incoming requests to respective workload groups is known as classifier. Classifier function can classify the incoming connections by using the application name, database name, login name etc.;

If your SQL server handles many database applications connecting to single database server instance, requests made from all the applications will compete to get enough resources to process the requests which will cause some serious performance issues. With the help of resource governor, we can distribute the assigned resources to specific workloads based up on the low, medium and high priorities. SQL Server can create up to 64 user defined resource pools.

When we install SQL Server, two pools are automatically generated. The Internal pool and Default pool. Internal pool is used for the internal background processes like DAC connections. Internal pool cannot be altered. Internal pool will be the priority when compared with the user defined resource pool. Default pool will handle all user connections that are not sent to the respective user-defined resource pool.

So, when a request is sent to the SQL Server, that session will be diverted to the associated workload group. This workload group will use the resources provided in the respective resource pool.

Now, lets get to the query processor. First the query processor will categorize the query we are sending to the SQL Server based on the workload group, then next it looks at the estimated cost and the size of the memory grant and categorize the query will be placed in the set of queues and these queues are known as Resource semaphores. These queues force queries to wait to get into the semaphore so they can get some memory to run. Resource semaphore is a gateway where SQL queries have to wait until they get the memory to even start processing the query. If SQL Server ran out of memory and queries waiting for the memory to be released to be processed, during this time we see resource semaphore wait types.

Resource pool have two primary resource semaphores. A small and large semaphores. Both have individual memory grants. Small semaphores are for queries with cost less than 3 and grant size less than 5MB. These queries use smaller pool of memory. The large semaphores are for larger queries and use different set of queues for large memory grant.

Each of these semaphores three sets of queues. They have low, medium and high priority sets. The high priority set queries will get importance and first get the memory grants and low priority queries have to wait until they get the memory. The large semaphore have five queues per set. Here the priority is different. Low cost queries gets the higher priority. Low cost queries will run faster than the high cost queries and that is the reason SQL server will prioritize the low cost queries first because low cost queries run pretty quick when compared with high cost queries which need more memory grants.

Queries doesn’t start unless available memory is 150% of requested query memory because sql server will always allocate a little bit of additional buffer memory. Lets take the 100MB query which will get 150MB with additional buffer. What if this query only get 100MB and doesn’t get that additional buffer in the beginning to run the query? In that case, the query will wait until the 25x the query cost which is in seconds. When the timeout occurs and if the exact grant (100MB) is available without the buffer amount then the query starts to run this time. In other scenario, even after waiting for so long and after the timeout, the exact memory (100MB) without the memory grant is not available and less than 100MB is available, in that case the grant can be decreased to the minimum required grant. What if even the minimum required grant is not available, in that case we will receive an error 8645. We can configure the timeout by using the resource governor.

Configuration options for Resource Governor

sp_configure: You can set the options at the server level. You have the option Max server memory (MB). The query memory will be taken out of the buffer pool which is within the max server memory. We also have the Server level default query wait time which is in seconds. Zero is the default value (25x cost of the cost of the query). We also have server level option min_memory_per_query (KB) which is 1MB by default.

Resource pool: There are two main settings. Min_memory_percent and Max_memory_percent. These are the settings to determine how much buffer pool grant can be used by the resource pool.

Workload Group: Within each workload group, we can have the importance level. We have the option request_memory_grant_timeout_sec where we can set the timeout specifically for the workload group. We have the option request_max_memory_grant_percent where we can set the memory grant percent of the resource pool grant that this workload group can take. When you have several different types of workloads on the servers, we can classify and give the workloads a very specific memory utilization.

We can check the memory status by using these commands:

  1. DBCC MEMORYSTATUS (looking at the current and max values of Small Query memory objects, Query memory objects) with give you the information about the maximum workspace/query memory. These two are the default resource semaphore pools.
  2. DMV’s like sys.dm_exec_query_resource_semaphores (information about all the resource semaphores and queues), sys.dm_exec_query_memory_grants provides lot more information to check when you have memory issues (provides one row each for query that has the memory consuming iterators. Gives the information on the whether the query is waiting for memory or granted the memory, how much memory, required memory and ideal memory information). Other DMV we can use is sys.dm_os_waiting_tasks gives the rows for the requests that are waiting for memory.

Lets start doing a hands on lab:

Let me set my max server memory to 1GB so we it will be even for us to play with

sp_configure 'show advanced options', 1;
sp_configure 'max server memory', 1000;

Run a simple query by enabling the actual execution plan to see how the memory grants are allocated for a query:

USE [Adventureworks2016]
Select top (1000)
order by ActualCost

We are choosing the option MAXDOP 1 because we want to run this in a single thread and if we use parallelism, then the memory grants are allocated for each thread. To be simple, we used the maxdop value as 1. Now when you observe the execution plan and see the memory grant on the select, you see the value 10776kb

Now see the estimated data size by choosing the arrow pointing to the sort operator. The estimated data size is 4707kb. The input size for the sort is 200% which will be double of the estimated data size. multiply, 4707kbx2 =9414kb plus additional buffer to make the memory grant 10776kb. That is how the memory grants are calculated based of the estimated data size.

Now, lets go ahead and see how memory is shared between the iterators. Lets run this below query and see the execution plan.

use adventureworks2016
select top(20)
* from
select top (50)
* from
select top (100)
* from
order by ActualCost desc
order by ActualCost
order by ActualCost desc

Press F4 to see the properties of first sort and look into the memory fractions for this sort. The memory fractions input shows as 1 which means the input phase took all the granted memory available and once the build phase is completed, half the memory is available which is represented as 0.5 in the memory fraction output. This memory available will be send to the next iterator.

Now, press F4 on the next sort iterator and check the memory fraction values. The total available memory now is 0.5 as it passed from the previous sort. During the build phase, it used 0.5 and after the build it has same 0.5 available. Now this memory will be passed to the next sort iterator.

Lets go and see for the third sort iterator, press F4 to see the values. It will use the same memory from the previous iterator to build phase 0.5 and after the build phase it released the total memory granted to this query.

This is how we will analyze the memory utilization of a given plan is to look for the memory grant for the final iterator and look for the memory fractions down the stream to know how much each iterator is trying to use.


In this series of memory grant Internals part 2, we have learned about resource governor, components we have in resource governor, configuration options for the resource governor, how to monitor the memory status and how we can see the memory being used by each iterator and share the memory between them before releasing the memory.

In the Part 3 of the series, we are going to learn how to monitor the memory grants by using the DMV’s with examples and much more…

Thank you for reading!

One thought on “Memory Grant Internals Part 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s