Intel Cascade Lake-SP Specifications Leaked!

As the upcoming Intel Cascade Lake-SP server processors are getting closer to their official release date (which my sources tell me is April 2, 2019), some more specifications are starting to leak out.

The Cascade Lake-SP Leak

Not directly from Intel, but from their system integrator partners, in this case HP, which leaked some Cascade Lake-SP SKUs and their detailed specifications. This was in some online documentation about the HP Z6 G4 Workstation, which was posted on February 22, 2019. HP quickly removed this information, but the information is out there now.

The leaked Cascade Lake-SP SKUs and their relevant specifications are shown for the most interesting SQL Server choices (at each core count) on the right side of Figure 1. This is important information if you are planning a SQL Server upgrade in the coming months!


Figure 1: Comparative Skylake-SP and Cascade Lake-SP Specifications

As you can see in Figure 1, the equivalent Cascade Lake-SP SKUs have fairly minor base clock speed increases (100-300MHz). They also have fairly minor Turbo clock speed increases (200-300MHz). The 24-core Xeon Platinum 8260 also gets an L3 cache size increase to 35.75MB. That processor is still not a good choice for SQL Server usage due to its low base clock speed.

New Features in Cascade Lake-SP

To be sure, Cascade Lake-SP does have at least two useful new features compared to Skylake-SP. The first is hardware-level protection from many Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities. These will perform better than existing software or firmware-level fixes. The second is support for Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory (Apache Pass). This may be useful for some SQL Server workloads.

So far, there seem to be some gaps in the Cascade Lake-SP SKU lineup, with no direct replacement for the Gold 6128 or Gold 6146. I have been told that Cascade Lake-SP will be a phased rollout from Intel, with not all SKUs being immediately announced.


ServeTheHome captured a .PDF version of the leaked page before HP took it down.


Intel is being less than forthcoming about the available Cascade Lake-SP SKUs and their detailed specifications. This makes it more difficult for you to do informed planning about your exact Cascade Lake-SP CPU choices, and to decide whether you should wait for Cascade Lake-SP to be available or not. Another factor is the upcoming release of the 7nm AMD EPYC “Rome” processors.

Intel is probably very concerned about AMD’s upcoming product release (as well they should be), which gives them even more incentive to be as secretive as possible about the details of Cascade Lake-SP. If you are planning a SQL Server upgrade in 2019, I can help you understand how to use this information to make an informed decision.

What do you think about this? Are you willing to wait for Cascade Lake-SP? Please let me know in the comments.


Glenn’s Tech Insights For February 21, 2019

(Glenn’s Tech Insights… used to be part of our bi-weekly newsletter but we decided to make it a regular blog post instead so it can get more visibility. It covers interesting new hardware and software developments that are generally relevant for SQL Server).

PCIe 5.0 Nears Release

On January 17, 2019, the PCI-SIG ratified version 0.9 of the PCIe 5.0 standard, with version 1.0 of the standard expected to be ratified later in Q1 of 2019. PCIe 5.0 doubles the bandwidth of PCIe 4.0, going from 64GB/s with sixteen lanes to 128GB/s with sixteen lanes. The PCIe 4.0 standard also doubled the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0, which was “only” 32GB/s with sixteen lanes.

Currently, no released AMD or Intel processors have PCIe 4.0 support, but the upcoming 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 desktop processors and the AMD EPYC “Rome” server processors will both have PCIe 4.0 support. The upcoming Intel Cascade Lake-SP server processors will NOT have PCIe 4.0 support.

After you have processor support for PCIe 4.0 and greater, you will need storage devices that support PCIe 4.0 and greater.

The first public PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD was demoed by Phison at CES. It was a Phison PS5016-E16. This SSD did 4069MB/sec for sequential reads and 4268MB/sec for sequential writes on CrystalDiskMark. Phison claims that the released version will have speeds up to 4.8/4.4 GB/s of read/write sequential throughput. This card is due to go on sale in Q3 of 2019.


AMD EPYC Market Share Analysis

ServeTheHome has a thoughtful article looking at the market share gains in the server space by the current generation AMD EPYC “Naples” processor. This processor was first released in mid-2017. AMD has gone from 0.8% in Q4 of 2017 to 3.2% in Q4 of 2018. That is still a small number, but I believe that market share will start to increase at a much faster rate during 2019 and 2020.

This is because both HPE and Dell EMC have multiple AMD EPYC systems on the market. Another reason is because the 7nm AMD EPYC “Rome” processors are due to be released in mid-2019. I think the AMD EPYC “Rome” processor is going to be a huge success. Rome will have PCIe 4.0 support, very high memory density, and possibly better single-threaded performance than Intel Cascade Lake-SP. This could make the AMD EPYC “Rome” processor a better choice for SQL Server OLTP usage than Intel Cascade Lake-SP. We will see as we get closer to release, and start to see more benchmark results.


AMD Ryzen 3000 Series Release Date Rumors

RedGamingTech reports that the upcoming 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 “Matisse” mainstream desktop processors (and a new, optional X570 chipset) are going to be released by AMD on July 7, 2019. This will happen during Computex 2019. The expectation is that these AMD processors will initially have twelve physical cores. There will be a 16-core SKU being released later in the year.  This SKU will counter the expected release of the 10nm 10-core Intel Comet Lake desktop processors.

It is possible that AMD will then have both a single-threaded CPU performance and a core count advantage. These processors will also sell at a lower price than the competing Intel mainstream desktop parts. This situation will probably true for at least nine-twelve months. This is not good news for Intel, and it will be interesting to see how they respond to this challenge.

Creating SQL Server Agent Job Schedules for Ola Hallengren’s Maintenance Solution

Data Platform MVP Ola Hallengren has created and maintained his free SQL Server Maintenance Solution script for over eleven years now. His script creates some objects in your master system database (by default). It also creates and enables twelve SQL Server Agent jobs.  These jobs do things like database backups, index maintenance, and database integrity checks. It is a great solution that many clients use. In order to have the jobs run, you will need to create SQL Server Agent job schedules for each one.

Creating the Schedules

An enabled SQL Server Agent job that does not have a schedule associated with it will never automatically run. I frequently help clients setup and configure the Ola Hallengren SQL Server Maintenance Solution. After many years, I finally got tired of manually creating a job schedule for each of the SQL Server Agent jobs. I decided to create a T-SQL script that you can run to create a schedule for each of the twelve jobs, which you can get here.

Modifying the Schedules

You can (and probably should) modify the schedules in my script to suit your business requirements and infrastructure. For example, depending on your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) SLA, you would probably want to change how often you run transaction log backups. Another example is deciding when to run resource intensive jobs.  These would the “DatabaseIntegrityCheck – USER_DATABASES” job or the “IndexOptimize – USER_DATABASES” job.


If you have you have shared storage, you would want to be more careful about your job scheduling. In that case, you will want to ensure that every instance is not doing resource intensive jobs at the same time. Please let me know what you think of this script and if you have any suggestions for improvements. Thanks!