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Linux Storage Limits

Discussion in 'Other Topic' started by Astro, Aug 17, 2018.

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  1. Astro

    Astro Linux Guru Staff Member Moderator

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    Maximum storage limits on Linux



    Filling-up-all-available-space asks: What is the maximum upper limit for disk and swap space? Just how much stuff can Linux hold?

    There are theoretical limits on the amount of disk, memory and swap space you can access with a Linux distribution. In reality though we are likely to run into practical limits (such as the cost of equipment or physical room size) before we run into the theoretical restrictions of the Linux kernel.

    The amount of memory Linux can access can vary from one processor architecture to another, so you will run into different memory size restrictions depending on the number of registers in your CPU and how big they are. On a x86_64 processor, which most modern desktop and laptop computers have, I think the maximum amount of memory Linux can access is defined by 44 bits. Which should provide an upper limit of about 16TB of RAM. Or about a thousand times more than the average laptop has at my local electronics store.

    The amount of data we can write to disk storage will vary quite a bit depending on which file system we are using. The commonly used ext4 file system has an upper limit of around 1EiB, which if memory serves is a million terabytes. Another file system, called XFS, is often used by enterprise-class distributions and can store up to 8EiB of data. If that's still not enough, the advanced Btrfs format provides up to 16EiB of storage. In this arena ZFS probably has the highest theoretical limit with 256 trillion YiB of storage. A yobibyte (YiB) is a trillion, trillion bytes. At this point one might wonder if the ZFS developers were just making up new numbers to drive home just how much storage space their file system could handle.

    I'd like to point out that the above file system storage limits are for just one file system. We could mount multiple massive file systems and/or attach additional storage over the network via a NAS. You're probably going to run out of money for new hard drives before reaching the upper limit of data we can write to attached file systems.

    The maximum limit of swap space is a little less mind boggling. The maximum amount of swap space we can use will again vary by hardware architecture, but the mkswap manual page offers some pretty good estimates. The maximum number of swap areas (files or partitions dedicated to swap space) is 32. The maximum number of pages in a swap area is about 4 billion. A page's size can vary, but will typically be 4,096 bytes. So the maximum amount of swap space is probably 4,096 bytes per page, multiplied by about 4 billion pages in a swap partition, multiplied by 32 swap spaces: 512TB.
     
  2. Gollapudi

    Gollapudi Verified Member

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    Thanks for sharing unknow information for me @Astro
     
    Astro likes this.

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