Does the Resource Governor govern?

Two weeks ago, we did the “SQL 2008 Summit” roadshow here in Sweden. We did 4 cities around Sweden in 4 days (http://www.expertzone.se/sql2k8/). It was a bit exhaustive, but even more fun – being able to travel and spend some time with persons wish I could meet more often (Kalen), others I meet regularly but only at workplace (Roger, Patrik, Anna) and yet other persons I just met (George, Per).

One of my presentations was on Resource Governor (RG), and I has this super-simple demo meaning to show CPU throttling. I classified connections to one of two Workload Groups based on login name. One group used a Resource Pool with max CPU at 10% and the other a Resource Pool with max CPU at 90%. Since I have two CPU cores, I started two execution loops for each login. An execution loop uses SQLCMD to login using the appropriate loginID and execute a proc which loops and outputs a counter using RAISERROR and NOWAIT (so we see something happening in the console).

For two of my presentations it worked just as expected. For two presentations it didn’t: the CPU usage looked very very strange – nowhere near what we expected. So, during the final day, I managed to spend some time with Mikael Colliander from MS Sweden. First we couldn’t reproduce the strange behavior, but after several restart, re-boot etc. we could. We now finally got to look at what scheduler each connection was using and there was the answer. One connection (ending up in the pool with max 10% CPU) was alone on one scheduler meaning alone on one CPU! The other three connections (one one on 10% CPU and two on max 90% CPU) was using the other CPU. So for the CPU where we had only one connection (belonging to the pool to be capped at 10% CPU) we just had no contention. So this connection could use everything on that CPU since nobody else was assigned to the CPU.

Now when I understand why this happened, it doesn’t look that strange. But I think we need to be very careful when we monitor resource usage for our connections and are using resource governor. The more CPUs we have the less chance we will see the (perhaps expected) distribution of load.

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