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SQL Server Scale Limits by Version and Edition

Microsoft Docs has several articles detailing each SQL Server version’s compute capacity and scale limits. But unfortunately, there’s no single page that has these details centralized for all SQL Server versions and editions.

On several occasions, I have found myself in need of such “centralized” details when needing to remind myself at a glance of the differences between the Standard Edition of different SQL Server versions.

My current solution for this was opening one of my slides in the webinar How to Save Money on Your SQL Server Hardware, and reviewing the table with the limitations comparing each SQL Server version and edition over the years.

But this takes too much effort and is very inconvenient. So, I figured that I should create such a centralized page myself that would be easier and faster to find, and perhaps help more people that need something like this.

Scale Limits

So, let’s start with the essentials. Here is a table detailing the differences in scaling limits of all SQL Server versions and editions. These limits changed over the years, and these changes are visible here.

SQL VersionsCPU CoresMax MemoryMax MemoryCPU CoresMax Memory
2008 and older4 socketsOS MaxOS Max1 physical core1 GB
2008 R24 sockets64 GB64 GB1 physical core1 GB
2012lesser of 4 sockets or 16 physical cores64 GB64 GBlesser of 1 socket or 4 physical cores1 GB
2014lesser of 4 sockets or 16 physical cores128 GB64 GBlesser of 1 socket or 4 physical cores1 GB
2016 and newerlesser of 4 sockets or 24 physical cores128 GB64 GBlesser of 1 socket or 4 physical cores1.4 GB
This table was last updated on: 2022-09-14

Important Remarks

  • These limits apply to a single instance of SQL Server. They represent the maximum compute capacity that a single instance will use. They do not constrain the server where the instance may be deployed. In fact, deploying multiple instances of SQL Server on the same physical server is an efficient way to use the compute capacity of a physical server with more sockets and/or cores than the capacity limits allow.
  • The Web Edition has the same CPU limits as the Standard Edition, but its memory limits are different.
  • Scale limits for Enterprise edition are not listed since they’re all unlimited across all versions (except for limits by core-based licensing and OS limits).
  • Scale limits for SQL Server versions 2017, 2019, and 2022 have all remained unchanged since SQL Server version 2016.
  • Click on each SQL Server version name to open its source page.

Virtualized vs Physical

In a virtualized environment, the compute capacity limit is based on the number of logical processors, not [physical] cores. The reason is that the processor architecture is not visible to the guest applications.

To illustrate:

in a physical server, you’re limited per physical core or socket.
in a virtual machine, you’re limited per logical core
(unless the underlying physical architecture is somehow accessible to SQL Server, which could be possible in non-cloud environments).
more details here

For more details, check out my webinar on How to Save Money on Your SQL Server Hardware.

Additional Resources

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