On January 9, Intel launched the 22nm Intel Xeon E5-2400 v2 Product Family (Ivy Bridge-EN) of processors for two-socket servers. For SQL Server usage, this is not a good processor family to choose for a new server.

While these processors are a nice improvement over the older 32nm Intel Xeon E5-2400 Product Family (Sandy Bridge-EN) of processors, they are still a particularly poor choice for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014, when compared to a 22nm Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 Product Family (Ivy Bridge-EP) processor with the same physical core count.

The reason for this is that Microsoft simply charges for physical core licenses with SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 (in non-virtualized servers). The performance characteristics of the processor do not matter at all to Microsoft (for licensing purposes). Given this fact, it does not make any sense to pick a lower performance processor with the same number of physical cores, at least from a performance or scalability perspective. From a strict economic perspective, a lower performance processor (with the same core count) will cost a little bit less money, and it is likely to use less electrical power and require less heat dissipation in your data center. These cost savings are pretty small compared to the cost of SQL Server core licenses, and you are giving up a lot of performance to save a relatively small amount of money.

If you compare the best models from the the entry-level E5-2400 v2 line to the best models from the E5-2600 v2 line, you will notice significantly higher base and turbo clock speeds, along with larger L3 cache sizes from the higher-end E5-2600 v2 line. You will also see higher QPI bandwidth, higher memory speed support and twice the memory capacity with the E5-2600 v2 line. The E5-2407 v2 processor does not have Turbo Boost or Hyper-Threading, which helps explain its very low price for a server-level processor.

Processor Cores Base Speed Turbo Speed L3 Cache QPI Price
E5-2407 v2 4 2.4GHz 2.4GHz 10MB 6.4GT/s $250.00
E5-2430 v2 6 2.5Ghz 3.0GHz 15MB 7.2GT/s $551.00
E5-2450 v2 8 2.5GHz 3.3GHz 20MB 8.0GT/s $1,107.00
E5-2470 v2 10 2.4GHz 3.2GHz 25MB 8.0GT/s $1,440.00

Table 1: Intel Xeon E5-2400 v2 Product Family Specifications

 

Processor Cores Base Speed Turbo Speed L3 Cache QPI Price
E5-2637 v2 4 3.5GHz 3.8GHz 15MB 8.0GT/s $996.00
E5-2643 v2 6 3.5GHz 3.8GHz 25MB 8.0GT/s $1,552.00
E5-2667 v2 8 3.3GHz 4.0GHz 25MB 8.0GT/s $2,057.00
E5-2690 v2 10 3.0GHz 3.6GHz 25MB 8.0GT/s $2,057.00
E5-2697 v2 12 2.7GHz 3.5GHz 30MB 8.0GT/s $2,618.00

Table 2: Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 Product Family Specifications

Just to be clear, you won’t see these processors being offered in the same model servers. For example, the Dell PowerEdge R320, R420, and R520 servers will have the Xeon E5-2400 (Sandy Bridge-EN) or Xeon E5-2400 v2 (Ivy Bridge-EN) processors (which you don’t want for SQL Server usage). The Dell PowerEdge R620, R720 and R720xd servers will have the Xeon E5-2600 (Sandy Bridge-EP) or Xeon E5-2600 v2 (Ivy Bridge-EP) processors (which you do want for SQL Server usage).

As a final observation, the major server vendors are still offering the older 32nm Sandy Bridge along with the newer 22nm Ivy Bridge processors in most of their servers. In the cases I have seen, there is no discount for the older, slower, more power hungry Sandy Bridge processors, so there is really no good reason to choose one of the older Sandy Bridge processors.