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Virtual memory in UNIX
Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting


Virtual memory in UNIX

Virtual memory is an internal “trick” that relies on the fact that not every executing task is always referencing it’s RAM memory region. Since all RAM regions are not constantly in-use, UNIX has developed a paging algorithm that move RAM memory pages to the swap disk when it appears that they will not be needed in the immediate future. (Figure 2-5)

Figure 5: RAM demand paging in UNIX

As memory regions are created, UNIX will not refuse a new task whose RAM requests exceeds the amount of RAM. Rather, UNIX will page out the least recently referenced RAM memory page to the swap disk to make room for the incoming request. When the physical limit of the RAM is exceeded UNIX can wipe-out RAM regions because they have already been written to the swap disk.

When the RAM region is been removed to swap, any subsequent references by the originating program require UNIX copy page in the RAM region to make the memory accessible. UNIX page in operations involve disk I/O and are a source of slow performance. Hence, avoiding UNIX page in operations is an important concern for the Oracle Remote DBA.

The above is an excerpt from the "Oracle9i UNIX Administration Handbook" by Oracle press, authored by Donald K. Burleson.


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