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Understanding Implicit Conversions

Jared Poche takes us through the concept of implicit conversions:

A quick search will tell you that implicit conversions are pretty awful for performance, and in particular drive CPU usage. That’s not news. There is an aspect of this I think a lot of engineers don’t understand; why does it cause performance issues?

An implicit conversion occurs when you try to compare between or assign data across two different data types, without converting one yourself. If you used a CAST or CONVERT, it would be an explicit conversion. When SQL Server does it for you, it’s an implicit conversion, and these can have a real impact on your execution plans. Not all combinations of types can be converted implicitly, for a full list look here.

What’s interesting in this is that there were some cases where Jared expected implicit conversion and the rules indicate that there should be implicit conversion, but the database optimizer saw through his ruse.