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Joe Chang

Intel Xeon E5 (Sandy Bridge-EP) and SQL Server 2012 Benchmarks

Intel officially announced the Xeon E5 2600 series processor based on Sandy Bridge-EP variant with upto 8 cores and 20MB LLC per socket. Only one TPC benchmark accompanied product launch, summary below.

ProcessorsCores perFrequencyMemorySQLVendorTPC-E
2 x Xeon E5-269082.9GHz512GB (16x32GB)2012IBM1,863.23
2 x Xeon E7-2870102.4GHz512GB (32x16GB)2008R2IBM1,560.70
2 x Xeon X569063.46GHz192GB (12x16GB)2008R2HP1,284.14

Note: the HP report lists SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition licenses at $23,370 per socket.
The first IBM report lists SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition licenses at $13,473 per pair of cores(?) or $53,892 per socket. All results used SSD storage. The IBM E7 result used eMLC SSDs, the IBM E5 results showed more expensive SSDs, but did not explicitly say SLC?.

The Xeon E5 superceeds 2-socket systems based on both the Xeon 5600 (Westmere-EP) and Xeon E7 (Westmere-EX). It is evident that Sandy Bridge improves performance over Westmere at both the socket and core levels and also on a GHz basis.

ArchitectureTotal CoresFrequencyCore-GHzTPC-Etps-E per core-GHz
Sandy Bridge-EP2 x 8 = 162.9GHz46.41,863.2340.16
Westmere-EX2 x 10 = 202.4GHz48.01,560.7032.51
Westmere-EP2 x 6 = 123.46GHz41.521,284.1430.93

One advantage of the Xeon E7 (Westmere-EX) system is that the memory expanders support for 4 DIMMs per channel or 16 DIMMs per socket (4 memory channels). However, a two-socket Sandy Bridge-EP system supports 256GB with 16 (8 per socket) of the lower price (per GB) 16GB DIMMs. And really, 256GB is more than enough for most situations, so it is quite reasonable to not burden outlier configuration requirements on the large majority.

A later version of the Xeon E5 will support 4-socket systems. There is no explanation as to whether glue-less 8-socket systems will be supported in the future. It was previously discussed that there would a EN variant of Sandy Bridge with 3 memory channels and fewer PCI-E lanes.

Hardware Strategy for SQL Server 2012 per core licensing
Top frequency on the 6 core E5-2667 is 2.9GHz, the same as the 8 core (excluding the 8 core 2687W model at 3.1GHz). Top frequency for the 4 core E5-2643 and 2 core E5-2637 are 3.3 and 3.0GHz respectively. The desktop i7-2830 is 3.6GHz with 4 cores, so Intel is deliberately constraining the top frequency on 2 & 4 core version for the server parts, apparently to favor interest in the 8 core part.

Given the SQL Server 2012 per core licensing, there should be interest in a system with fewer cores per socket running at higher frequency, while taking advantage of the high memory and IO bandwith of the E5 system. Consider also that SQL Server write operations (Insert, Update, Delete, the final stage of index builds) and even certain SELECT operations are not parallel (the Sequence Project operator that support the ROW_NUMBER function).

I think it would also make sense for Intel to allow cores to be disabled in BIOS (now UEFI) on the top of line E5-2690 like the desktop extreme edition unlocked processors. Large corporate customers can buy a batch of identical systems, disabling cores that are not needed on individul systems. 

It would also be of value to engage a (nolonger quite so, relative to core licenses) exhorbitantly priced consultant to tune SQL Server to run on fewer cores.(Not to be construed as a solicitation for services)

Published Wednesday, March 7, 2012 7:53 PM by jchang
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joe schmoe said:

Show me the Benches!

How about a 2012 vs 2008 vs 2005 vs 2000 shootout?

Now who wants a permanent PASS ban!?

March 16, 2012 10:27 PM

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About jchang

Reverse engineering the SQL Server Cost Based Optimizer (Query Optimizer), NUMA System Architecture, performance tools developer - SQL ExecStats, mucking with the data distribution statistics histogram - decoding STATS_STREAM, Parallel Execution plans, microprocessors, SSD, HDD, SAN, storage performance, performance modeling and prediction, database architecture, SQL Server engine

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