What is memory Ballooning??

What is memory Ballooning??

 

Ideally, a VM from which memory has been reclaimed should perform as if it had been configured with less memory. ESX Server uses a ballooning technique to achieve such predictable performance by coaxing the guest OS into cooperating with it when possible.

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A small balloon module is loaded into the guest OS as a pseudo-device driver or kernel service. It has no external interface within the guest, and communicates with ESX Server via a private channel. When the server wants to reclaim memory, it instructs the driver to “inflate” by allocating pinned physical pages within the VM, using appropriate native interfaces. Similarly, the server may “deflate” the balloon by instructing it to deallocate previously-allocated pages. Inflating the balloon increases memory pressure in the guest OS, causing it to invoke its own native memory management algorithms.When memory is plentiful, the guest OS will return memory from its free list. When memory is scarce, it must reclaim space to satisfy the driver allocation request. The guest OS decides which particular pages to reclaim and, if necessary, pages them out to its own virtual disk. The balloon driver communicates the physical page number for each allocated page to ESX Server, which may then reclaim the corresponding machine page. Deflating the balloon frees up memory for general use within the guest OS.

The memory balloon driver (vmmemctl) collaborates with the server to reclaim pages that are considered least valuable by the guest operating system.

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