Centos 6.5
 PostgreSQL 9.3
 shared_buffers = 3000 MB
 checkpoint_segments = 128

Top command: top -M (shift F -> N)

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The checkpointer process uses 1.3 GB RAM

Question: Why does checkpointer process use a lot of RAM ?

Referenced: this article, postgresql doc, interdb.jb 9.7, this post

  • Maybe, because of using top command, it will not return exactly RAM usage. But, if this process really keeps 1.3 GB RAM, I'm curious about what information it keeps inside.
    – Luan Huynh
    Sep 14, 2016 at 4:17
  • Well, it's just a guess without trying to figure it out from the source code: checkpoints are about writing certain contents of RAM to disk. The number you see might relate to the amount of changes you accumulated. Sep 14, 2016 at 8:08
  • Using pmap, I realized that there are a lot of things related to "checkpointer". May be, the amount of RAM above accumulated by them.
    – Luan Huynh
    Sep 15, 2016 at 3:26

1 Answer 1


The "VIRT" size (3.2 GB in this case) is the total amount of memory the process can see. The reason all of the postgres processes have a similar VIRT count is because they all map the 3 GB of shared memory into themselves, and in addition to that allocate whatever more they need to operate.

The "RES" size is the amount of memory touched by the individual processes. So, the checkpointer process has touched (directly read or written) about 1.5 GB of memory, most of which is almost certainly from the shared buffers pool. So, this 1.5 GB of RES is a mostly a subset of the 3 GB allocated for the shared buffers, plus a smaller amount for active per-process work.

To see which is which, use a utility such as pmap.


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