Power BI Premium - what is it?

Power BI Premium provides resources dedicated to running the Power BI service for your organization or team, giving you more dependable performance and larger data volumes. Premium also enables widespread distribution of content without requiring you to purchase per-user licenses for viewers.

You can take advantage of Power BI Premium by assigning workspaces to a Premium capacity. Premium capacity is a dedicated resource for your organization. For workspaces that are not assigned to a premium capacity, these will be in a shared capacity.

Shared capacity is the experience you are used to with Power BI, where your workloads run on computational resources shared by other customers. In shared capacity, more limits are placed on individual users to ensure quality of the experience for all users.

  1. Items within a Premium capacity

    • Accessing app workspaces (as members or admins) and publishing apps requires a Power BI Pro license.

    • Sharing an app requires a Pro license, but consuming an app doesn't.

    • All dashboard recipients, regardless of the license they're assigned, can set data alerts.

    • REST APIs for embedding use a service account with a Pro license, rather than a user account.

  2. My workspace in Shared capacity

    • Sharing and consuming an app both require a Pro license.
  3. App workspaces in Shared capacity

    • Any app usage requires a Pro license.

Capacity tiers

There are two types of capacity within Power BI. Shared capacity and Power BI Premium capacity. Here is a look at what the differences are between them.

Shared capacity Power BI Premium capacity
Refresh rate 8/day Not restricted
Isolation with dedicated hardware
Enterprise Distribution to all users
Apps and sharing 1
Embedded API and controls 2
Publish Power BI reports on-premises

1 For more information, see User capabilities with Power BI Pro and Power BI Premium functionality.
2 Future enhancements coming to Power BI Premium post GA.

Premium capacity

To start using a Power BI Premium capacity, you need to assign a workspace to a capacity. For more information on how to assign a workspace to a premium capacity, see Manage Power BI Premium.

When a workspace is backed by premium capacity, you enjoy the benefits of Power BI Premium.

  • Scheduled refreshes: users prior were limited to 8x a day when scheduling refreshes with imported models. This limitation is lifted for datasets in Premium workspaces. This does not apply to the scheduled cache refresh settings for DirectQuery. Those remain the same between Premium and Shared capacities.
  • Isolation with dedicated hardware – by nature of shared capacity, the performance of your reports and dashboards may be impacted by the resource demands of other workloads in the capacity, despite our safeguards against it. Conversely, Premium provides more consistent, dependable performance for your workloads by isolating it from unrelated workloads.

If an app is backed by premium capacity (i.e. it was published from an app workspace that is currently assigned to Premium), the published app can then be used by any user in your organization regardless of the license they are assigned.

Shared capacity

By default, your workspace will be in shared capacity. This includes your personal My workspace along with App workspaces. A Shared capacity is the experience you are used to with Power BI, where your workloads run on computational resources shared by other customers.

Premium capacity nodes

Power BI Premium is available in node configurations with different v-core capacities. For more information about specific SKU offerings and cost, see Power BI pricing. A cost calculator is also available. For information regarding embedded analytics capacity planning, see Planning a Power BI Enterprise Deployment whitepaper.

  • P nodes can be used for embedded or service deployments.
  • EM nodes can be used for embedded deployments only. EM nodes do not have access to premium capabilities, such as sharing apps to users that don't have a Power BI Pro license.


Links in this table only operate properly for users who are Office 365 global admins - others receive a 404 error.

Capacity Node Total v-cores
(Backend + frontend)
Backend V-Cores Frontend V-Cores DirectQuery/live connection limits Max page renders at peak hour Availability
EM1 (month to month) 1 v-core .5 v-cores, 2.5GB RAM .5 v-cores 3.75 per second 150-300 Available
EM2 (month to month) 2 v-cores 1 v-core, 5GB RAM 1 v-core 7.5 per second 301-600 Available
EM3 (month to month) 4 v-cores 2 v-cores, 10GB RAM 2 v-cores 601-1,200 Available
P1 8 v-cores 4 v-cores, 25GB RAM 4 v-cores 30 per second 1,201-2,400 Available (month to month is also available)
P2 16 v-cores 8 v-cores, 50GB RAM 8 v-cores 60 per second 2,401-4,800 Available
P3 32 v-cores 16 v-cores, 100GB RAM 16 v-cores 120 per second 4,801-9600 Available
  • The frontend v-cores are responsible for the web service, dashboard and report document management, access rights management, scheduling, APIs, uploads and downloads, and generally for everything that relates to the user experience.
  • The backend v-cores are responsible for the heavy lifting: query processing, cache management, running R servers, data refresh, natural language processing, real-time feeds, and server-side rendering of reports and images. With the backend v-cores, a certain amount of memory is reserved as well. Having sufficient memory becomes especially important when dealing with large data models or with a large number of active datasets.

Power BI Report Server

Power BI Premium includes the right to run Power BI Report Server on-premises. For more infomation, see Get started with Power BI Report Server.

Next steps

Power BI Premium FAQ
Power BI Premium release notes
How to purchase Power BI Premium
Managing Power BI Premium
Microsoft Power BI Premium whitepaper
Planning a Power BI Enterprise Deployment whitepaper
Administering Power BI in your organization

More questions? Try asking the Power BI Community