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Enterprise scale search for app development

Drive business impact with intelligent search results and greater control over search rankings. Digitize documents, enrich content, and extract insights in your data through AI-powered cognitive skills. With Cognitive Search, get your search indexes up and running quickly. Easily scale up and down and take advantage of Microsoft's deep knowledge of natural language processing to quickly retrieve knowledge.

Cognitive Search pricing examples

Pricing is shown in USD, assuming the East US 2 region selection.

Example 1: Structured Data

You want to load 75GB of structured data into a search index. As your data is already structured, you will only require the main Azure Cognitive Search service (no additional features).

Pricing Tier: Standard S1 (search units of 25GB):

Standard S1 (Search units of 25GB)

Partitions: 75GB / 25GB = 3

Replicas: 2 (requirement for 99.9% SLA for search queries)

Search Units: 3 partitions x 2 replicas = 6

Monthly Cost: 6 search units x ($- x 730 monthly hours) =


See this example in the pricing calculator

Example 2: Unstructured Data

You want to load 1,000 documents (assume 10GB) into a Cognitive Search service. Each document has 2 images. In addition to your main Azure Cognitive Search service, you'll use Document Cracking Image Extraction to extract the images, and Azure AI Services to tag images (to make them searchable).

Pricing Tier: Standard S1 (search units of 25GB):

Search Units: 1 partition x 2 replicas = 2

Monthly Search Unit Cost: 2 search units x ($- x 730 monthly hours) = $-

One-Time AI Enrichment Costs: $- + $- one-time enrichment cost

Document Cracking Image Extraction (2,000 images) = $-

Azure AI Services: Computer Vision (2,000 images) = $-


See this example in the pricing calculator

Explore pricing options

Apply filters to customize pricing options to your needs.

Prices are estimates only and are not intended as actual price quotes. Actual pricing may vary depending on the type of agreement entered with Microsoft, date of purchase, and the currency exchange rate. Prices are calculated based on US dollars and converted using London closing spot rates that are captured in the two business days prior to the last business day of the previous month end. If the two business days prior to the end of the month fall on a bank holiday in major markets, the rate setting day is generally the day immediately preceding the two business days. This rate applies to all transactions during the upcoming month. Sign in to the Azure pricing calculator to see pricing based on your current program/offer with Microsoft. Contact an Azure sales specialist for more information on pricing or to request a price quote. See frequently asked questions about Azure pricing.

Free Basic Standard S1 Standard S2 Standard S3 Storage Optimized L1 Storage Optimized L2
Storage 50 MB 2 GB 25 GB
(max 300 GB per service)
100 GB
(max 1 TB per service)
200 GB
(max 2 TB per service)
1 TB
(max 12 TB per service)
2 TB
(max 24 TB per service)
Max indexes per service 3 15 50 200 200 or 1000/partition in high density1 mode 10 10
Scale out limits N/A Up to 3 units per service
(max 1 partition; max 3 replicas)
Up to 36 units per service
(max 12 partition; max 12 replicas)
Up to 36 units per service
(max 12 partition; max 12 replicas)
Up to 36 units per service
(max 12 partition; max 12 replicas)
up to 12 replicas in high density1 mode
Up to 36 units per service
(max 12 partition; max 12 replicas)
Up to 36 units per service
(max 12 partition; max 12 replicas)
up to 12 replicas in high density1 mode
Price per SU (Scale Unit) $- $- $- $- $- $- $-
1 High density (HD) mode is an option available within the standard S3 service that allows a larger number of indexes to be created in a single service. For information on supported limits, refer here.

Learn more about service limits and constraints.

Additional Azure Cognitive Search Features (Billed Separately)

What This Feature Does Pricing Details
Custom Entity Lookup Skill

Looks for text from a custom, user-defined list of words and phrases and labels all documents containing matching entities. Available for all Basic, Standard, and Storage-Optimized tiers.

When to use: you want to define and detect specific entities in your data.

0-1M text records $- per 1,000 text records

1M-3M text records $- per 1,000 text records

3M-10M text records $- per 1,000 text records

10M+ text records $- per 1,000 text records

Document Cracking: Image Extraction

Extracts content from a file within the enrichment pipeline. Text extraction is free. Image extraction is billed during the initial document cracking step and when invoking the Document Extraction skill.

When to use: you have documents that contain images.

0-1M images $- per 1,000 transactions

1M-5M images $- per 1,000 transactions

5M+ images $- per 1,000 transactions

Semantic Search

Uses AI models to improve the relevance of the search results by finding content that is semantically similar to query terms. The service is only available for accounts on Standard tiers (S1, S2, and S3) and Storage-Optimized (L1 and L2) and has two pricing plans within those tiers.

When to use: you want to improve the quality of search results and optimize the user experience.

Free Plan: Up to 1,000 semantic queries per month

Standard Plan: 0-250K queries - $- per month; 250K + queries - $- per query

1 The standard pricing plan for semantic search is billed daily and can be turned off early without incurring the full monthly charge

Guidance for how to select the right SKU for your business

Every business has unique needs as it grows and evolves. Explore the guidance below to learn how to start with the right business model for your organization.

  • Prior to selecting a SKU, it's valuable to think through the requirements you have for your search service. The following are important questions to ask:

    • What are example queries your application users may write?
    • What kind of information will they search for?
    • Will users want to filter or sort through search results?
    • How many indexes will you need?
    • What is the size of your raw data files or blob storage?
    • Will you need headroom for ingesting new documents/data in the future?
  • Azure Cognitive Search is offered in combinable search "units" that vary by storage and throughput. Selecting the optimal pricing tier for your solution is based on the following factors:

    • Storage requirements: This refers to the amount of data you need to store in your search service. Each tier has a storage limit per partition, and you can add up to 12 partitions on a search service. It's important that your service has enough space for your data and has headroom to grow if you plan on ingesting more data.

    Pro Tip: The storage size of your search index will typically be smaller than the size of your raw data, particularly for files like PDFs and images. The best way to assess the storage size required for your search index is to index a representative sample of documents into your search index in the Azure portal with the Import Data Wizard.

    • Queries per Second (QPS): The throughput of your search service, often measured in QPS, will depend on your data and the types of queries users will issue. It's best to run performance tests to understand the throughput a particular tier can handle for your scenario but we have performance benchmarks that show the throughput different customer scenarios. Check out our performance benchmarking guidance to see sample customer scenarios.

    For additional guidance, please see our documentation: Choosing a Pricing Tier.

  • Customers can further optimize their search experience with add-on services in the "Additional Features" table below. We also recommend customers read the following guidance on how to manage costs:

  • For additional help, please see our options for one-on-one guidance.

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Additional resources

Azure Cognitive Search

Learn more about Azure Cognitive Search features and capabilities.

Pricing calculator

Estimate your expected monthly costs for using any combination of Azure products.


Review the Service Level Agreement for Azure Cognitive Search.


Review technical tutorials, videos, and more Azure Cognitive Search resources.

  • With Microsoft Azure Cognitive Search, you are billed on a flat, predictable hourly rate based on the number of units that have been used during any given hour.
  • You are billed the last search unit count detected within an hour. If you start with two units, then scale to four units, and then scale back down to two units all within an hour, you will likely be charged for two units.
  • The stop button is meant to stop traffic to your service instance. As a result, your service is still running and will continue to be charged the hourly rate.
  • You are billed the flat rate for each hour the unit exists, regardless of usage or if the unit is active for less than an hour. For example, if you create a unit and delete it five minutes later, your bill will reflect a charge for one unit hour.
  • Azure Cognitive Search units combine to provide additional throughput and storage. For example, to scale from 15 million documents to 30 million (additional partitions), a customer can purchase two units. To increase throughput (additional replicas), they can purchase two units. To increase both storage and throughput, a customer would need to purchase four units (2 replicas x 2 partitions = 4 search units).
  • Free is a free version of Azure Cognitive Search designed to provide developers a sandbox to test features and implementations of Azure Cognitive Search. It is not designed for production workloads. Basic, standard, and storage optimized are the go-to options for building applications that benefit from a self-managed search-as-a-service solution. Standard delivers storage and predictable throughput that scales with application needs. Storage Optimized editions offer significantly more storage at a reduced price per TB. For very high-demand applications, please contact
  • Azure Cognitive Search is available in the new Microsoft Azure portal. First, you must sign up for an Azure subscription, then you can add an Azure Cognitive Search account to your Azure subscription via the gallery in the preview portal. Get more information.

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