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Virtual Memory - Database Weekly (Jan 19, 2009)

By Steve Jones,

We are all familiar with virtual memory, and in fact many of us have probably struggled with configuring page files at some point in time to ensure we had enough virtual memory. Especially with SQL Server in years past where it wanted that 4GB address space even if we didn't have that much memory installed.

We have virtualized storage with the deployment of SANS, essentially letting servers just access space without having to manage it on from the physical machine. CPUs are kind of virtualized with VMWare and other virtualization software, but memory seems like a big task to me.

I saw recently there's a company, RNA Networks,  that is looking to virtualize memory in servers, allowing it to be shared across systems. They're in stealth mode (whatever that is) and it's not clear how this works on various platforms. They list Transaction Processing as a way to use this technology and they don't seem to require a specific platform to do it on. Their partners are Sun and IBM among others, so I would think this is more of a Unix targeted solution, but I could be wrong. I haven't heard back from them at this point.

Scaling out SQL Server is something that it seems many people are interested in. And it's not for just applications that are running on 32-way boxes. There are lots of people that would love to scale up their 4-CPU system to 3 or 4 similarly sized systems rather than buying a larger machine.

I'm sure this is a technology that is still maturing and will get widely deployed at some point. Harnessing the power of multiple machines will become reality at some point and likely get used in many database systems.

Steve Jones

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