[talk] Does swap still matter?

Malcolm Matalka mmatalka at gmail.com
Thu Mar 17 03:15:24 EDT 2022

George Rosamond <george at ceetonetechnology.com> writes:

> This has been an on and off debate I've had with myself and others, and wanted
> some input from others. Input from live experiences is great, input from
> low-level devs is even better.
> When RAM never seemed adequate for a system in the past, the utility of swap was
> obvious. You would see the spikes on top(1) when swap was hit.
> swap = 2 x RAM, blah blah.
> Today, when those 64G or more of RAM are the norm for bare-metal boxes, and it's
> overkill in many contexts, is swap still necessary?

I have actually recently hit a case where I use swap: compiling some
automatically generated code takes a lot of RAM and on my laptop and on
the build infrastructure I use, it dips into using more RAM than I have
and swap actually saves my butt.  I don't do 2x RAM because I really
just need like an extra gig or two to succeed.  And getting a larger
machine for my build setup currently is just not an option,
unfortunately.  So in that sense, swap is a life saver until I get the
opportunity to address this issue another way.

> Do certain applications/OS functions still use swap as opposed to RAM for some
> reason? I mean, swap is normally encrypted by default, so there is a justifiable
> reason to use swap over RAM.
> I know encrypted RAM is a (small) part of the universe today, including with the
> Ryzen pro series.
> Looking forward to being enlightened.
> g
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