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I'm using vSphere 5.1.

According to here, guest active memory in "Resouse Allocation" tab is:

Amount of memory recently accessed

From other hand, in "Performance" tab, active memory means from here:

Amount of guest physical memory in use by the virtual machine.
Active memory is estimated by VMkernel statistical sampling and represents the actual     
amount of memory the virtual machine needs. The value is based on the current workload  
of the virtual machine.

So my question is what the differences between these two?

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Taking a stab in the dark here - I could be wrong.

Resource allocation tab "active memory" would be the memory reading without the VM overheads

Performance tab "active memory" would be the memory reading with the VM overheads

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