Columnstore Memory Pressure And Bulk Loading

Niko Neugebauer shows what happens when you try to bulk load data into a columnstore index but don’t have enough memory available:

After waiting for the 25 seconds (notice the difference between the request_time and grant_time is exactly 25 seconds), the engine decides to grant some minimum amount of memory anyway, allowing the process to carry on, without being cancelled, but the penalisation is very heavy – the inserts will not go into the compressed row groups, but into the Delta-Stores, making this operation not-minimally-logged and in other words, painfully slow and inefficient.
To confirm the final results, let’s check on the Row Groups of our tables, given that we have canceled the inserts into the 2 first tables, we expect 1 row group for the [dbo].[FactOnlineSales_Stage3] table and 1 row group for the [dbo].[FactOnlineSales_Stage4] table, corresponding to the 3rd and 4th threads of data loading:

As Niko points out, this could be the difference between a well-behaved, single compressed rowgroup load versus dumping a million rows into the deltastore.

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