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I mentioned this in a recent post, but I figure a picture illustrates it better.  This is a screenshot of task manager as a PowerPivot refresh completes.  This one ran for about 30 minutes, so this represents just the tail end of the process:

PowerPivot Data Refresh CPU and RAM Spike 

Note the two highlighted points – one of the 4 CPU’s pegged at 100% for awhile – and while the other 3 did go “quiet” at the very end, they WERE active for part of the time that the fourth CPU was at 100.  So – CPU gets precious near the end of refreshes (after hovering around 50% for much of the process).

Even more notably, RAM usage spiked by nearly 2 GB!  The PowerPivot file in question was 1.45 GB on disk when it was complete.  And that workbook was still in RAM after refresh completed, so the 2 GB spike was pure overhead during the final compression process.

(Side effect:  Even if you have enough RAM to load a workbook, that does not mean you have enough RAM to refresh it.)

Allocate your server RAM and CPU around the refresh process, folks.

Rob Collie

Rob Collie

One of the original engineering leaders behind Power BI and Power Pivot during his 14-year career at Microsoft, Rob Collie founded a consulting company in 2013 that is 100% devoted to “the new way forward” made possible by Power BI and its related technologies. Since 2013, PowerPivotPro has rapidly grown to become the leading firm in the industry, pioneering an agile, results-first methodology never before seen in the Business Intelligence space. A sought-after public speaker and author of the #1-selling Power BI book, Rob and his team would like to help you revolutionize your business and your career.

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