What is the External and Internal Fragmentation?

External Fragmentation :

  • As processes are loaded and removed from memory, the free memory space is broken into little pieces. External fragmentation exists when there is enough total memory space to satisfy a request but the available spaces are not contiguous: storage is fragmented into a large number of small holes.
  • This fragmentation problem can be severe. In the worst case, we could have a block of free (or wasted) memory between every two processes.
  • If all these small pieces of memory were in one big free block instead, we might be able to run several more processes.

Internal Fragmentation :

  • When the memory block assigned to process is bigger. Some portion of memory is left unused as it cannot be used by another process.
  • Consider a multiple-partition allocation scheme with a hole of 18,464 bytes. Suppose that the next process requests 18,462 bytes. If we allocate exactly the requested block, we are left with a hole of 2 bytes. The overhead to keep track of this hole will be substantially larger than the hole itself. The general approach to avoiding this problem is to break the physical memory into fixed-sized blocks and allocate memory in units based on block size. With this approach, the memory allocated to a process may be slightly larger than the requested memory. The difference between these two numbers is internal fragmentation—unused memory that is internal to a partition.

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