Alberto Ferrari explains what semi-additive measures are and how we can work with them in DAX:
First things first: what is a semi-additive calculation? Any calculation can be either additive, non-additive or semi-additive. An additive measure uses SUM to aggregate over any attribute. The sales amount is a perfect example of an additive measure. Indeed, the sales amount for all customers is the sum of the individual sales for each customer; at the same time, the amount over a year is the sum of the amounts for each month.
A non-additive measure does not use SUM over any dimension. Distinct count is the simplest example: the distinct count of products sold over a month is not the sum of the distinct counts of individual days. The same happens with any other dimension: a distinct count of products sold in a country is not the sum of the distinct counts of the products sold in each city in the country.
Semi-additive calculations are the hardest ones: a semi-additive measure uses SUM to aggregate over some dimensions and a different aggregation over other dimensions – a typical example being time.
Semi-additive measures are probably the trickiest of the three, as you can easily work with additive measures and you know you won’t be able to do much with non-additive measures.