Thoughts from the EPS Windows Server Performance Team
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Following up on our Memory Management 101 post, we're moving on to a discussion of Pool Resources and Pool Resource Depletion. First of all - what are Pool Resources? When a machine boots up, the Memory Manager creates two dynamically sized memory pools that kernel-mode components use to allocate system memory. These two pools are known as the Paged Pool and NonPaged Pool. Each of these pools start at an initial size that is based upon the amount of physical memory present in the system. Pool memory is a subset of available memory and is not necessarily contiguous. If necessary, these pools can grow up to a maximum size that is determined by the system at boot time.
So - what distinguishes Paged Pool and NonPaged Pool memory? The first difference is that Paged Pool is exactly what its name implies - it can be paged out. The NonPaged Pool cannot be paged out. Drivers use the NonPaged Pool for many of their requirements because they can be accessed at any Interrupt Request Level (IRQL). The IRQL defines the hardware priority at which a processor operates at any given time (there's a link to a document covering Scheduling, Thread Context and IRQL's in the Additional Resources section at the end of this post).
Getting back to our Pool Resources, it is important to remember that these resources are finite. The table below outlines some sample maximum values for Paged / NonPaged Pool on x86 systems that are not configured with the /3GB switch in the system's boot.ini file. We'll cover /3GB and its effects on memory in a future post. We'll also cover Kernel Changes to Windows Vista separately. It's important to note that x64 systems don't suffer from the same Virtual Address Space limitations!
* If Terminal Services is installed on Windows 2000, Paged Pool is lowered down to 160 MB unless a registry change is made to the server to set the Paged Pool Size to its maximum value (see below).
Windows 2003 SP1
On Windows 2003 systems, Terminal Services are enabled by default.
On both Windows 2000 and Windows 2003, the HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Management\Memory Management\PagedPoolSize value can be set to 0xFFFFFFFF (or resetting the value to 0) to ensure that the Virtual Address Space used for Paged Pool is maximized.
Also - here's the theoretical maximums for pre-Vista Operating Systems:
* depends on whether or not /3GB is enabled
Now that we know what the maximum value ranges should look like, here's how to verify what those values look like on your own system using Process Explorer:
Now, let's examine what type of items reside in each of these pools. Within the NonPaged pool, you would find handles that are used by applications in the user-mode space as well as Kernel-Mode drivers (typically ending in a .sys file extension). Examples of Paged Pool items are Token Objects, Kernel-Mode drivers and the Registry.
Here's where things get really interesting - what happens to a system when these Pool Resources get depleted? Some of the most common symptoms exhibited are:
Symptoms such as this are usually the first indication that there is something causing an issue with the machine.
If the NonPaged Pool on a server has become depleted, the machine will log an Event in the System Log as shown below:
Event ID 2019 Event Type: Error Event Source: Srv Event Category: None Event ID: 2019 Description: The server was unable to allocate from the system NonPaged pool because the pool was empty.
Paged Pool Depletion is logged as an Event 2020:
Event ID 2020 Event Type: Error Event Source: Srv Event Category: None Event ID: 2020 Description: The server was unable to allocate from the system paged pool because the pool was empty.
What are these error messages telling us beyond the fact that there is an issue with Pool Depletion? A common misunderstanding of this message is that the problem is being caused by the Server Service (srv.sys). Usually the Server Service is the first component to experience the issue because it is trying to satisfy a request and cannot allocate the appropriate Pool Memory.
We'll cover 2019 & 2020 troubleshooting in greater depth in a future post including how to use tools such as Poolmon and Perfmon in conjunction with a Memory Dump to find the culprits! However, to get you started, I've included links to a great post by our CPR team on their blog as well as some more general information regarding Pool Memory. The links are below.
Coming soon - Memory Tuning, Troubleshooting Memory Issues and Using the /3GB switch
- CC Hameed
What about the PagedPoolSize limits for WinXP by default in 1GB Ram and in 512MB ram.
"On both Windows 2000 and Windows 2003, the HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Management\Memory Management\PagedPoolSize value can be set to 0xFFFFFFFF"
Is this applicable to Windows XP the same way it applies to Windows 2000 ?
Do you know why windows 2000 server with terminal service enabled has lower memory? is there any side effect if we set the paged pool size to MAX value? Please suggest.
With Terminal Server enabled on 2000 Windows changes the kernel resource calculation done to give resources to other things as they are more likely to be constrained on a Terminal Server that is running larger number of applications. In 32 bit Windows there is always a balancing needed of kernel resources (paged pool, non-paged pool, VACB's, system PTE's, cache, PFN database, etc.) because everything has to fit into 2GB address space.
If you set paged pool to max value then it means a number of the other kernel components will get less resources, for example system PTE's created could be much lower resulting in failures. If paged pool issue are occurring then make use poolmon (part of the Windows Driver Kit Tools...although I don't know if the current one will run on 2000) to find the tag that is using the most pool memory and see if it can be reduced. Poolmon requires that pooltagging be enabed. Remember that pool memory (paged and non-paged) is used by kernel mode drivers so having latest drivers is important. However since Windows 2000 has been out of support for many years there may not be a solution for it and moving to a modern supported OS will be required.
177415 How to use Memory Pool Monitor (Poolmon.exe) to troubleshoot kernel mode memory leaks