Lock escalation is the process of converting a lot of low level locks (like row locks, page locks) into higher level locks (like table locks).
Every lock is a memory structure. Too many locks would mean, more memory being occupied by locks. To prevent this from happening, SQL Server escalates the many fine-grain locks to fewer coarse-grain locks. Lock escalation threshold was definable in SQL Server 6.5, but from SQL Server 7.0 onwards it is dynamically managed by SQL Server.
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