Sort Spill To Level 15K

Paul White explains spill levels:

At this point, you might be wondering what combination of tiny memory grant and enormous data size could possibly result in a level 15,000 sort spill. Trying to sort the entire Internet in 1MB of memory? Possibly, but that is way too hard to demo. To be honest, I have no idea if such a genuinely high spill level is even possible in SQL Server. The goal here (a cheat, for sure) is to get SQL Server to report a level 15,000 spill.

The key ingredient is partitioning. Since SQL Server 2012, we have been allowed a (convenient) maximum of 15,000 partitions per object (support for 15,000 partitions is also available on 2008 SP2 and 2008 R2 SP1, but you have to enable it manually per database, and be aware of all the caveats).

Read the whole thing.

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