A SQL Server DBA myth a day: (5/30) AWE must be enabled on 64-bit servers

(Look in the Misconceptions blog category for the rest of the month’s posts and check out the 60-page PDF with all the myths and misconceptions blog posts collected together when you join our Insider list, plus my online Myths and Misconceptions training course on Pluralsight.)

Myth #5: AWE must be enabled on 64-bit servers


(This one was suggested by fellow-MVP Jonathan Kehayias (blog|twitter))

There's a *huge* amount of confusion about AWE settings, locked pages, and what works/doesn't work, and what's required/not required on 32-bit and 64-bit servers, and in which editions.

In a nutshell:

  • On 64-bit systems (2005+):
    • AWE is not required (and in fact enabling it does nothing)
    • Turning on the "Locked Pages in Memory" privilege prevents the buffer pool memory (and anything that uses single-page-at-a-time memory allocations) from being paged out
    • When the "Locked Pages in Memory" privilege is set, SQL Server uses the Windows AWE API to do memory allocations as it's a little bit faster
    • "Locked Pages in Memory" is supported by Standard and Enterprise editions (see this blog post for how to enable it in Standard edition)
  • On 32-bit systems (2005+):
    • AWE is required to make use of extended virtual address space
    • The "Locked Pages in Memory" privilege must be enabled before AWE can be enabled
    • AWE is supported by Standard and Enterprise editions

No surprise that it's a bit confusing!

My good friend Bob Ward from CSS wrote a very detailed FAQ blog post that explains all of this – see Fun with Locked Pages, AWE, Task Manager, and the Working Set…

Tune in tomorrow to see what myth is next up for debunking!

7 thoughts on “A SQL Server DBA myth a day: (5/30) AWE must be enabled on 64-bit servers

  1. Heehee :-) Recently we put additional memory into one of the servers (64-bit OS) and SQL just wasn’t using it. It took quite a few "why?"’s before I remembered that we installed 32-bit SQL on there and still needed to update those AWE settings.

    ps: i’m enjoying the "myth a day" series

  2. I know this is way late in responding, so apologies. :)

    In a 32-bit Windows 2003 enterprise machine, should SQL 2000 enterprise have AWE enabled? I notice that you have it for 2005+ so there’s a bit of confusion in finding info for SQL 2000.

    Thanks very much!

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