• Javascript
  • Python
  • Go

Understanding SIZE and RSS values in prstat output

When it comes to monitoring system resources on a Unix or Linux system, one of the most useful tools is the prstat command. This command dis...

When it comes to monitoring system resources on a Unix or Linux system, one of the most useful tools is the prstat command. This command displays information about processes, including their CPU and memory usage. However, when looking at the output of prstat, you may come across two values that may seem unfamiliar: SIZE and RSS. In this article, we will dive into these values and understand their significance in the prstat output.

SIZE, also known as Virtual Memory Size, represents the total amount of virtual memory that is allocated for a process. Virtual memory is a concept where the operating system allocates a certain amount of memory to a process, which may not necessarily be used by the process. It is a combination of physical memory (RAM) and swap space (hard disk space used as an extension of RAM). Essentially, SIZE shows the maximum amount of memory that a process can potentially use.

On the other hand, RSS, or Resident Set Size, represents the actual physical memory that is being used by a process. This value includes both the memory that is currently in use and the memory that has been recently used and may still be needed by the process. Unlike SIZE, RSS does not include the swap space. It is a more accurate representation of the memory usage of a process.

To better understand these values, let's consider an example. Suppose we have a process with a SIZE of 500 MB and an RSS of 300 MB. This means that the process has been allocated 500 MB of virtual memory, but it is currently using only 300 MB of physical memory. The remaining 200 MB is either not being used or is in the swap space.

Now, you may be wondering, why do we need both SIZE and RSS values? Well, SIZE can give us an idea of the potential memory usage of a process, while RSS shows us the actual physical memory being used. This can be helpful in identifying processes that are consuming a lot of memory or processes that may have a memory leak.

In addition to these values, prstat also displays a third value: the percentage of CPU usage by a process. This value, known as CPU, represents the percentage of CPU cycles that a process is using. It is calculated by dividing the amount of time the process has been using the CPU by the total amount of CPU time.

Now that we have a better understanding of SIZE and RSS, let's take a look at how we can interpret them in the prstat output. When running the prstat command, the output is displayed in a table format, with each row representing a process. The SIZE and RSS values are displayed in the SIZE and RSS columns respectively.

One thing to note is that the values displayed by prstat are in kilobytes (KB). This means that you will need to do some conversions to get a better understanding of the memory usage in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). For example, if a process has a SIZE of 100000 KB, it means it is using approximately 100 MB of virtual memory.

In conclusion, understanding the SIZE and RSS values in the prstat output is essential for monitoring system resources and identifying processes that may be consuming a lot of memory. By knowing the difference between these two values, you can get a better understanding of the memory usage of a process and troubleshoot any memory-related issues more effectively. So next time you run the prstat command, keep an eye out for these values and use them

Related Articles

Analyzing Solaris Core Dump

Solaris is a Unix-based operating system that was originally developed by Sun Microsystems. It is known for its stability and scalability, m...