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Guru's Guide to SQL Server Architecture and Internals, The by Ken Henderson

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Virtual Memory vs. Physical Memory

Windows provides all processes a 4GB virtual memory sandbox in which to play. By “virtual” I mean that the memory isn't memory in the traditional sense. It is merely a range of addresses with no physical storage implicitly associated with it. As a process makes memory allocations, these addresses are used and physical storage is associated with them. However, this physical storage is not necessarily (and not usually) physical memory. It is usually disk drive space. Specifically, it's space in the system paging file(s). That's how multiple applications can run on a system with 128MB of memory, each with a virtual address space of 4GB—it's not real memory, but it seems like it to the application. Windows transparently ...

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