Virtual Memory Manager memory load control facility
When a process references a virtual-memory page that is on disk, because it either has been paged out or has never been read, the referenced page must be paged in, and this might cause one or more pages to be paged out if the number of available (free) page frames is low. The VMM attempts to steal page frames that have not been recently referenced and, therefore, are not likely to be referenced in the near future, using a page-replacement algorithm.
A successful page-replacement keeps the memory pages of all currently active processes in RAM, while the memory pages of inactive processes are paged out. However, when RAM is over-committed, it becomes difficult to choose pages for page out because, they will probably be referenced in the near future by currently running processes. The result is that pages that are likely to be referenced soon might still get paged out and then paged in again when actually referenced. When RAM is over-committed, continuous paging in and paging out, called thrashing, can occur. When a system is thrashing, the system spends most of its time paging in and paging out instead of executing useful instructions, and none of the active processes make any significant progress. The VMM has a memory load control algorithm that detects when the system is thrashing and then attempts to correct the condition.