I was recently doing a training session when a developer commented that it was OK to run an expensive query twice because on the second execution, SQL Server would use the “results cache” and be “practically free”. It’s not the first time I’ve heard someone refer to a “results cache” in SQL Server. This is one of those myths that is almost true, which makes it that much more believable. If you don’t know better, you might think SQL Server has a “results cache” because the second execution of a query is often faster.
SQL Server does not have a “results cache” and the second execution is not “practically free.”
SQL Server does have a “buffer cache” and the second execution is “faster, but not free.”
The SQL Server buffer cache holds data pages in memory, in the exact form that they reside on disk. The second execution will not have to perform physical I/O operations to satisfy the query, because it can use the buffer cache. However, it does have to perform all other operations. Think of it like this: the second execution still executes the entire execution plan, including all the expensive operations. It is faster, but not “practically free.”
Read the comments for Erik Darling’s plot twist.