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An Overview of Intelligent Query Processing in SQL Server 2019

In the ever-evolving world of database management systems, SQL Server 2019 brings a host of enhancements and innovations to the table. Among these is Intelligent Query Processing (IQP), a suite of features designed to improve the performance and efficiency of SQL queries. In this article, we’ll explore what Intelligent Query Processing is and how it benefits SQL Server users.

Table of Contents

Understanding Intelligent Query Processing:

Intelligent Query Processing is a set of advanced query optimization techniques and performance improvements introduced in SQL Server 2019. Its primary aim is to boost the performance of your SQL queries without requiring extensive changes to your existing database infrastructure or application code.

Key Components of Intelligent Query Processing:

  1. Batch Mode on Rowstore: This feature extends the benefits of batch mode processing, previously available only for columnstore indexes, to rowstore tables. It significantly speeds up queries on large tables by leveraging vectorized query processing techniques.

  2. Adaptive Joins: SQL Server 2019 introduces the ability to switch between different join algorithms during query execution, depending on the actual data and cardinality. This dynamic optimization reduces query execution times.

  3. Memory Grant Feedback: This component optimizes memory allocation for query execution. It helps prevent memory-related performance issues by adjusting memory grant sizes based on historical query performance.

  4. Approximate Query Processing: With this feature, SQL Server can provide approximate results for aggregate queries much faster than calculating precise results. It’s particularly useful for large datasets or complex queries.

  5. Scalar UDF Inlining: SQL Server 2019 can now inline scalar user-defined functions (UDFs) within queries, eliminating the overhead of calling these functions separately and improving query performance.

  6. Table Variable Deferred Compilation: This feature defers the compilation of queries referencing table variables until the first execution, allowing for better optimization and performance.

Benefits of Intelligent Query Processing:
  1. Improved Query Performance: IQP can significantly reduce query execution times, making your applications more responsive and efficient.

  2. Reduced Administrative Overhead: Since IQP doesn’t require major changes to your database or application code, it simplifies the process of achieving better performance.

  3. Consistency in Query Execution: With features like memory grant feedback and adaptive joins, IQP helps maintain consistent query performance even as data volumes change.

  4. Faster Time to Insights: Approximate query processing allows you to get insights from large datasets faster, which is essential for data-driven decision-making.

Compatibility Considerations:

While Intelligent Query Processing is a powerful tool for performance optimization, it’s important to note that some IQP features might not be enabled by default in all database compatibility levels. Be sure to review and adjust compatibility levels to take full advantage of IQP in your SQL Server 2019 environment.


Intelligent Query Processing in SQL Server 2019 represents a significant leap forward in the realm of database query optimization. By intelligently adapting query execution strategies, optimizing memory allocation, and providing faster results for large datasets, IQP empowers SQL Server users to achieve better performance without the need for extensive reengineering. As businesses rely more on data-driven decision-making, IQP is a valuable tool to ensure your SQL queries deliver results quickly and efficiently.

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