Performance considerations for SAS

Having recently taken over as SAS® admin, I’m having fun and games trying to establish quite what is where, …, and why.

We’re using v8, planning to upgrade to v9 shortly, and the box seems very slow. This may be because the server is doing more work – more users and larger datasets than I was used to – but nonetheless it seems a little sluggish and I’m suspicious of Win2k3, having been happy with Unix.

I’ve been reading up on performance and, to put it gently, there seems to be an opportunity to tune the system.

Firstly memory usage: our system has 3.2GB of memory but performance counters on the server suggest that only a fraction of this (say a tenth to a quarter) is used at any one time.

Paging: performance monitor logs show cache file usage and paging is very high – typically in the thousands. This is more to do with the way SAS reads data, a page at a time via the file cache, than a memory issue. Nonetheless I would be keen to bring this figure down as I’m concerned that the high usage stats may be creating a bottle-neck.

Looking into this further revealed that a typical SAS session, running on the server, uses about 12MB of memory. At this rate we could comfortably accomodate two hundred users – we currently have closer to thirty and it unusual to have more than twenty sessions running concurrently.

My plan: to increase memory usage so we can get data into memory quickly.

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