Updates on Intel Xeon Ivy Bridge Server Processor Launch Schedules

It still looks like the 2nd generation, 22nm Intel Xeon E5-1600 v2 and E5-2600 v2 families (Ivy Bridge-EP), for single and two-socket servers, will launch sometime this quarter. Some sources I have talked to think that Intel may wait until the Intel IDF13 in San Francisco, on September 10-12 to release the Ivy Bridge-EP. These processors use the same Socket 2011, as the current 32nm Intel Xeon E5-1600 and E5-2600 families (Sandy Bridge-EP) processors, so current model servers from your favorite server vendor should be able to use these processors, perhaps with a BIOS update.

In most cases you would not actually want to do a processor upgrade on an existing server for economic reasons, but you could if you wanted to. Having socket and chipset compatibility just means that the server vendors will be able to offer the new processor as soon as they get a supply of them from Intel.

The E5-2600 v2 series is aimed at two-socket servers, and will have at least 18 different “Ivy Bridge-EP” SKUs, ranging from the entry-level E5-2603 v2 up to the twelve-core E5-2697 v2. The 22nm processors have up to 12 physical cores, which allows them to have 24 logical cores with hyper-threading enabled.  The second series, the E5-1600 v2, works only in single-socket systems, and is going to initially have three models, the E5-1620 v2, E5-1650 v2, and E5-1660 v2. Both families will work with the Intel C600 series chipsets, and both use Socket 2011.

The second generation 22nm Intel Xeon E7 family, (which includes the Xeon E7-2800 v2, E7-4800, and E7-8800 v2) is aimed at larger, multi-processor servers, and it will be delayed until at least Q1 2014. Previous reports indicated these Ivy Bridge-EX processors would be available in Q4 2013. These processors will have triple the memory capacity of the current 32nm Westmere-EX processors, and they will require new server models from the server vendors. They will also finally have PCI-E 3.0 support, so overall they will be a huge upgrade from the current Westmere-EX.

Also in Q1 2014, Intel is going to release the 22nm Xeon E5-4600 v2 and E5-2400 v2 processors. The E5-4600 v2 will work in four-socket servers, and they use Socket 2011. The E5-2400 v2 (Ivy Bridge-EN) are for two-socket servers, have up to 10 cores, and will use Socket 1356. These Ivy Bridge-EN processors will NOT a good choice for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 OLTP workloads compared to higher performance Ivy Bridge-EP processors.

I really hate to see Intel slip their release schedule like this. I think a big part of why this happened is due to a lack of viable competition from AMD. After all, why should Intel rush to push out new technology when they are absolutely dominant from a performance perspective? They can continue to sell the current processors for a little longer with no real consequences.

Given the apparent delay for the Ivy Bridge-EX, a twelve-core Ivy Bridge-EP processor will be the hot ticket for a lot of people who are looking at new database servers over the next six to nine months. A new two-socket Ivy Bridge-EP system with Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 will be the way to go in the near future.

Upcoming Speaking Events

On July 25, I will be presenting for the PASS Performance Virtual Chapter at 12PM Mountain Time. I will be giving my Hardware 201 presentation. Here is the abstract:

Hardware 201: Selecting and Sizing Database Hardware for OLTP Performance

The foundation of database performance is the underlying server hardware and storage subsystem. Even the best designed and optimized database application can be crippled by an inadequate hardware and storage infrastructure. Recent advances in new processors and chipsets, along with improvements in magnetic and SSD storage have dramatically changed the evaluation and selection process compared to the past. Many database professionals struggle to keep up with new technology and often simply let someone else make their hardware selection and sizing decisions. Unfortunately, the DBA usually gets the blame for any performance issues that crop up later. Don’t let this happen to you! This session covers current and upcoming hardware from both Intel and AMD and gives you the tools and resources to make better hardware selection decisions to support SQL Server OLTP workloads.

You can register for the event here.

Next, early in the morning on August 1, I will be presenting for the latest 24 Hours of PASS event. I have the last session of the entire event, starting at 5AM Mountain Time. Despite that, hopefully I will have some people from Europe and Asia who will be able to attend. Here is the abstract:

Scaling SQL Server 2012

SQL Server implementations can rapidly evolve and become more complex, forcing DBAs and developers to think about how they can scale their solution quickly and effectively. Scaling up is relatively easy but can be expensive, while scaling out requires significant engineering time and effort. As your database server nears its load capacity, what can you do? This 24 Hours of PASS session, a preview of the full-day PASS Summit pre-conference session, will give you concrete, practical advice about how to scale SQL Server. We’ll explore how to find and alleviate bottlenecks and cover how you can decide whether you should scale up or scale out your data tier. We’ll also cover how to use middle-tier caching and other application techniques to increase your overall scalability.

You can register for 24HOP sessions here.

Using TPC-E OLTP Benchmark Scores to Compare Processors

One of the things I do at SQLskills is paid consulting for customers who are looking to upgrade their database servers to new hardware, a new operating system, and a new version of SQL Server. Part of this process is a comparison of the estimated TPC-E score of the existing system compared to the estimated TPC-E score on the new system. Here is an example of some of the type of analysis that I do as part of that process.

Imagine a legacy system that is a Dell PowerEdge 2950 with one 45nm, quad-core, 3.0GHz Intel Xeon X5450 “Harpertown” processor, along with 64GB of RAM. That processor has a 1333MHz FSB and a 12MB L2 cache. It has the 45nm Core2 Quad “Harpertown” microarchitecture, which means that it does not support Intel hyper-threading or Intel Turbo Boost, and it uses the older symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) architecture instead of the newer non-uniform memory access (NUMA) architecture.

Nearest TPC-E Comparable Result for Existing System

There is a TPC-E result from 12/11/2007 for a Dell PowerEdge 2900 system with one 65nm, quad-core, 2.66GHz Intel Xeon X5355 “Clovertown” processor, along with 48GB of RAM. That processor has a 1333MHz FSB and an 8MB L2 cache. It has the 65nm Core2 Quad “Clovertown” microarchitecture, which means that it also does not support Intel hyper-threading or Intel Turbo Boost, and it also uses the older SMP architecture. The Intel Xeon 5300 series is one Intel Tick release older than the Intel Xeon 5400 series, so there is a relatively small difference in their relative performance. This actual TPC-E score is 144.88. The Dell system from 2007 was running SQL Server 2005 on Windows Server 2003.

Comparing that Dell TPC-E system to the existing system, we have to make some adjustments to account for the clock speed difference, L2 cache size difference and the Intel Tick release difference. A 3.0GHz clock speed is 12.4% higher than a 2.66GHz, and I estimate that the combination of a larger L2 cache and the newer Tick release would be another 10% difference. If we multiply 144.88 times 1.224, we get a result of 177.33 as an estimated TPC-E score for the current legacy system.

Nearest TPC-E Comparable Result for New System

There is also a TPC-E result from 11/21/2012 for an HP Proliant DL380p Gen 8 system with two 32nm, eight-core, 2.9GHz Intel Xeon E5-2690 “Sandy Bridge-EP” processors, along with 256GB of RAM. This has the 32nm Sandy Bridge-EP microarchitecture, which means that it supports both Intel hyper-threading and Intel Turbo Boost, and it uses the newer NUMA architecture. It also has PCI-E 3.0 support. The actual TPE-E result for this system is 1881.76. This system is running on Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012.

Since we want to minimize our SQL Server 2012 core-based license costs, we are considering only using one actual Xeon E5-2600 series processor in the new server, possibly with a lower core count. The best choices for SQL Server 2012 are the four-core 3.3GHz Intel Xeon E5-2643, the six-core 2.9GHz Intel Xeon E5-2667, and the eight-core 2.9GHz Intel Xeon E5-2690. These three processors have slightly different base and Turbo clock speeds and different L3 cache sizes (although the size per core is the same) and different core counts that must be accounted for. We also need to account for the fact that we will only have one physical processor in the system instead of two.

With a NUMA architecture in a two-socket machine, you will get quite good scaling as you go from one processor to two processors. I believe we should use an estimate of 55% (i.e. one processor will have 55% of the scalability of two identical processors in the NUMA architecture system). We will have to adjust for the core-count difference in the six-core and quad-core processors. We also need to adjust for the higher base clock speed difference in the quad-core Xeon E5-2643 system.

The two-socket Xeon E5-2690 system has an actual TPC-E score of 1881.76. If we multiply that by .55 we get an estimated TPC-E score of 1034.97 with one Xeon E5-2690. If we multiply that by .75, we get an estimated TPC-E score of 776.23 with one Xeon E5-2667.

If we take the 1034.97 estimate for a single eight-core Xeon E5-2690 and multiply that by .50, we get a result of 517.49 for the four-core Xeon E5-2643. We also need to multiply that by 1.138 to account for the 3.3GHz base clock speed compared to the base 2.9GHz clock speed. This gives us an estimated TPC-E score of 588.90 for a single Xeon E5-2643 processor.

The table below summarizes these TPC-E score estimates.

Processor Physical Cores Estimated TPC-E Score
Xeon X5450 4 177.33
Xeon E5-2643 4 588.90
Xeon E5-2667 6 776.23
Xeon E5-2690 8 1034.97