Power Pivot: Powerful data analysis and data modeling in Excel

Power Pivot is an Excel add-in you can use to perform powerful data analysis and create sophisticated data models. With Power Pivot, you can mash up large volumes of data from various sources, perform information analysis rapidly, and share insights easily.

In both Excel and in Power Pivot, you can create a Data Model, a collection of tables with relationships. The data model you see in a workbook in Excel is the same data model you see in the Power Pivot window. Any data you import into Excel is available in Power Pivot, and vice versa.

Note: Before diving into details, you might want to take a step back and watch a video, or take our learning guide on Get & Transform and Power Pivot.

  • Import millions of rows of data from multiple data sources    With Power Pivot for Excel, you can import millions of rows of data from multiple data sources into a single Excel workbook, create relationships between heterogeneous data, create calculated columns and measures using formulas, build PivotTables and PivotCharts, and then further analyze the data so that you can make timely business decisions—all without requiring IT assistance.

  • Enjoy fast calculations and analysis    Process millions of rows in about the same time as thousands, and make the most of multi-core processors and gigabytes of memory for fastest processing of calculations. Overcomes existing limitations for massive data analysis on the desktop with efficient compression algorithms to load even the biggest data sets into memory.

  • Virtually Unlimited Support of Data Sources    Provides the foundation to import and combine source data from any location for massive data analysis on the desktop, including relational databases, multidimensional sources, cloud services, data feeds, Excel files, text files, and data from the Web.

  • Security and Management    Power Pivot Management Dashboard enables IT administrators to monitor and manage your shared applications to ensure security, high availability, and performance.

  • Data Analysis Expressions (DAX)    DAX is a formula language that extends the data manipulation capabilities of Excel to enable more sophisticated and complex grouping, calculation, and analysis. The syntax of DAX formulas is very similar to that of Excel formulas.

Tasks in Power Pivot or in Excel

The basic difference between Power Pivot and Excel is that you can create a more sophisticated data model by working on it in the Power Pivot window. Let’s compare some tasks.


In Excel

In Power Pivot

Import data from different sources, such as large corporate databases, public data feeds, spreadsheets, and text files on your computer.

Import all data from a data source.

Filter data and rename columns and tables while importing.

Read about Get data using the Power Pivot add-in

Create tables

Tables can be on any worksheet in the workbook. Worksheets can have more than one table.

Tables are organized into individual tabbed pages in the Power Pivot window.

Edit data in a table

Can edit values in individual cells in a table.

Can’t edit individual cells.

Create relationships between tables

In the Relationships dialog box.

In Diagram view or the Create Relationships dialog box.

Read about Create a relationship between two tables.

Create calculations

Use Excel formulas.

Write advanced formulas with the Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) expression language.

Create hierarchies

Not available

Define Hierarchies to use everywhere in a workbook, including Power View.

Create key performance indicators (KPIs)

Not available

Create KPIs to use in PivotTables and Power View reports.

Create perspectives

Not available

Create Perspectives to limit the number of columns and tables your workbook consumers see.

Create PivotTables and PivotCharts

Create PivotTable reports in Excel.

Create a PivotChart

Click the PivotTable button in the Power Pivot window.

Enhance a model for Power View

Create a basic data model.

Make enhancements such as identifying default fields, images, and unique values.

Read about enhancing a model for Power View.

Use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)

Use VBA in Excel.

Don’t use VBA in the Power Pivot window.

Group data

Group in an Excel PivotTable

Use DAX in calculated columns and calculated fields.

How the data is stored

The data that you work on in Excel and in the Power Pivot window is stored in an analytical database inside the Excel workbook, and a powerful local engine loads, queries, and updates the data in that database. Because the data is in Excel, it is immediately available to PivotTables, PivotCharts, Power View, and other features in Excel that you use to aggregate and interact with data. All data presentation and interactivity are provided by Excel; and the data and Excel presentation objects are contained within the same workbook file. Power Pivot supports files up to 2GB in size and enables you to work with up to 4GB of data in memory.

Saving to SharePoint

Workbooks that you modify with Power Pivot can be shared with others in all of the ways that you share other files. You get more benefits, though, by publishing your workbook to a SharePoint environment that has Excel Services enabled. On the SharePoint server, Excel Services processes and renders the data in a browser window where others can analyze the data.

On SharePoint, you can add Power Pivot for SharePoint to get additional collaboration and document management support, including Power Pivot Gallery, Power Pivot management dashboard in Central Administration, scheduled data refresh, and the ability to use a published workbook as an external data source from its location in SharePoint.

More about MSDN: Power Pivot for SharePoint.

Getting Help

You can learn all about Power Pivot at Power Pivot Help.

Need more help?

You can always ask an expert in the Excel Tech Community, get support in the Answers community, or suggest a new feature or improvement on Excel User Voice.

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