Compare Formula Engine VS. Storage Engine in SSAS Tabular

To improve SSAS tabular performance or to improve your DAX query, it is important to know the different between formula engine and storage engine. Here, I have created a table for you to better distinguish these two in Tabular (I need to reinforce it is for tabular modeling not multidimensional because the back end technology used is quite different). Both engines play vital roles to process DAX query requests.

FE and SE

Category Formula Engine Storage Engine
Query received Interpret DAX/MDX formula Can handle single logic (xmSQL) from formula Engine
Target Data Iterate over datacaches produced by storage engine (datacaches are in-memory tables) Iterate over compressed data in vertipaq column stores
Result Produce result set and send back to requestor Produce Datacaches send back to formula Engine
Thread Single – Threaded Multi – Threaded
Cache utilization No Yes
Area of focus for  Performance Tuning Check physical plan for bottleneck Check xmSQL query for bottleneck


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