Glenn’s Tech Insights For May 28, 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).

AMD Computex 2019 Announcements

On May 27, 2019, AMD President and CEO, Dr. Lisa Su delivered the opening keynote at Computex 2019 Taipei. During this keynote, Dr. Su announced more details about the 7nm Ryzen 3000 series mainstream desktop processors, 7nm AMD EYPC “Rome” server processors, 7nm AMD Radeon RX 5700 “Navi” video cards and the upcoming X570 chipset motherboards.

AMD is claiming a 15% IPC improvement, a 2X L3 cache size increase, and a 2X floating point performance improvement over the Ryzen 2000 series. AMD revealed some fairly detailed specifications and pricing for some of the Ryzen 3000 series processors, as shown in Figure 1.

Ryzen 3000

Figure 1: AMD Ryzen 3000 Series Processors

AMD ran some Cinebench R20 and Blender demonstrations on stage comparing Ryzen 3000 series processors to various Intel mainstream desktop and HEDT processors. If these demonstrations are accurate (and we won’t know for sure until the various hardware enthusiast sites and respected YouTube hardware reviewers do independent testing), then AMD should have an amazing, game-changing product. They will have better single-threaded CPU performance, better multi-threaded CPU performance, PCIe 4.0 support, and lower prices than equivalent current Intel processors.

Just in case 12C/24T isn’t enough, there are many reports from good sources that there will be a 16C/32T SKU that will be released later this year. The Ryzen 3000 processors are due to be on store shelves on July 7, 2019.

3rd Gen Ryzen Performance

Figure 2: AMD Ryzen 3000 Performance Comparisons

There was also a quick AMD EPYC “Rome” demonstration, comparing a two-socket AMD EPYC “Rome” system to a two-socket Intel Xeon Platinum 8280M system, where the AMD system had more than twice the performance. This isn’t a huge surprise, since the AMD system had 64C/128T processors vs. 28C/56T processors for the Intel system. We still don’t know the detailed specifications for the  7nm “Rome” processors, but if they show similar IPC improvements to the AMD Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors (they both use the same Zen 2 architecture), it will be very impressive.  Forrest Norrod, AMD’s SVP and GM of the Datacenter and Embedded Solutions Group, confirmed a Q3 2019 Release Date for “Rome” during the keynote.

Here are some relevant YouTube videos:

AMD R9 3900X, 3800X, 3700X Specs & Price: 16-Core Held Back for Now (& RX 5700 GPU)

3rd Gen AMD Ryzen 5, 7 & 9 Announced… It’s Official, Intel’s Screwed

AMD’s $500 12-Core Ryzen 9 3900X CONFIRMED! Computex 2019 Keynote Recap

I need to buy AMD stock. NOW.

Gigabyte X570 Master VRM & PCB Analysis | Efficiency Estimations

Corsair Force Series MP600 SSD PCIe 4.0

Corsair announced a new Force Series MP600 PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD at Computex 2019. If you have this drive in a PCIe 4.0 system, you will get up to 4,950 MB/s of sequential read performance and 4,240 MB/s of sequential write performance. That is pretty impressive, but it is not close to what a PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 socket can deliver, which would be nearly 8 GB/sec. Apparently, the Psison PS5016-E16 controller is the bottleneck, keeping the drive limited to about 5GB/sec on reads.

The large heatsink means this won’t fit in your laptop! Actually, because PCIe 4.0 uses significantly more power than PCIe 3.0, I don’t think we will be seeing PCIe 4.0 support in laptops for a while. That large heatsink should help reduce thermal throttling of the drive in desktop systems.


Figure 3: Corsair Force Series MP600 SSD

This is one of the first announced PCIe 4.0 drives in the consumer space. There are no details yet about capacity, pricing, or availability.

SQL Server Diagnostic Information Queries for May 2019

This month, I have just made some minor improvements to most of the query sets, mainly in the comments and documentation. I have also been working on the Azure SQL Database version of the queries lately.

I have a T-SQL script that you can use to check whether your instance of SQL Server has been patched to mitigate against the Spectre/Meltdown CPU vulnerability. This works for SQL Server 2008 through SQL Server 2017, for on-premises and cloud-based VM (IaaS) usage. You can get the query for this here.

I often make additional minor updates to the queries periodically during the month, so if you are in doubt, downloading the latest version is always a good idea.

Rather than having a separate blog post for each version, I have just put the links for all ten major versions in this single post. There are two separate links for each version. The first one on the top left is the actual diagnostic query script, and the one below on the right is the matching blank results spreadsheet, with labeled tabs that correspond to each query in the set.

Here are links to the latest versions of these queries for Azure SQL Database, SQL Server 2019, SQL Server 2017, SQL Server 2016 SP2, SQL Server 2016, and SQL Server 2014:

Azure SQL Database Diagnostic Information Queries

Azure SQL Database Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2019 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2019 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2017 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2017 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2016 SP2 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2016 SP2 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2016 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2016 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2014 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2014 Blank Results Spreadsheet

Here are links to the most recent versions of these scripts for SQL Server 2012 and older:

Since SQL Server 2012 and older are out of Mainstream support from Microsoft (and because fewer of my customers are using these old versions of SQL Server), I am not going to be updating the scripts for these older versions of SQL Server every single month going forward.  I started this policy a while ago, and so far, I have not heard any complaints.

SQL Server 2012 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2012 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2008 R2 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2008 R2 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2008 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2008 Blank Results Spreadsheet

SQL Server 2005 Diagnostic Information Queries

SQL Server 2005 Blank Results Spreadsheet

The basic instructions for using these queries is that you should run each query in the set, one at a time (after reading the directions for that query). It is not really a good idea to simply run the entire batch in one shot, especially the first time you run these queries on a particular server, since some of these queries can take some time to run, depending on your workload and hardware. I also think it is very helpful to run each query, look at the results (and my comments on how to interpret the results) and think about the emerging picture of what is happening on your server as you go through the complete set. I have quite a few comments and links in the script on how to interpret the results after each query.

After running each query, you need to click on the top left square of the results grid in SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to select all of the results, and then right-click and select “Copy with Headers” to copy all of the results, including the column headers to the Windows clipboard. Then you paste the results into the matching tab in the blank results spreadsheet.

About half of the queries are instance specific and about half are database specific, so you will want to make sure you are connected to a database that you are concerned about instead of the master system database. Running the database-specific queries while being connected to the master database is a very common mistake that I see people making when they run these queries.

Note: These queries are stored on Dropbox. I occasionally get reports that the links to the queries and blank results spreadsheets do not work, which is most likely because Dropbox is blocked wherever people are trying to connect. I am not planning on moving these to Github any time soon.

I also occasionally get reports that some of the queries simply don’t work. This usually turns out to be an issue where people have some of their user databases in 80 compatibility mode, which breaks many DMV queries, or that someone is running an incorrect version of the script for their version of SQL Server.

It is very important that you are running the correct version of the script that matches the major version of SQL Server that you are running. There is an initial query in each script that tries to confirm that you are using the correct version of the script for your version of SQL Server. If you are not using the correct version of these queries for your version of SQL Server, some of the queries are not going to work correctly.

If you want to understand how to better run and interpret these queries, you should consider listening to my five related Pluralsight courses, which are SQL Server 2017: Diagnosing Performance Issues with DMVs, SQL Server 2017: Diagnosing Configuration Issues with DMVs, SQL Server 2014 DMV Diagnostic Queries – Part 1SQL Server 2014 DMV Diagnostic Queries – Part 2, and SQL Server 2014 DMV Diagnostic Queries – Part 3. All five of these courses are pretty short and to the point, at 164, 106, 67, 77, and 68 minutes respectively. Listening to these five courses is really the best way to thank me for maintaining and improving these scripts…

Please let me know what you think of these queries, and whether you have any suggestions for improvements. Thanks!

Glenn’s Tech Insights For May 15, 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).

Microarchitectural Data Sampling in Intel Processors

On May 14, 2019, news broke that a new series of speculative execution side-channel flaws are present in most existing Intel mobile, desktop, and server processors. These newly announced exploits are detailed in this advisory from Intel. Jon Masters from Red Hat has a pretty detailed explanation of these vulnerabilities here.  Here are the four CVEs:

CVE-2018-12126 Microarchitectural Store Buffer Data Sampling (MSBDS)

CVE-2018-12127 Microarchitectural Load Port Data Sampling (MLPDS)

CVE-2018-12130 Microarchitectural Fill Buffer Data Sampling (MFBDS)

CVE-2019-11091 Microarchitectural Data Sampling Uncacheable Memory (MDSUM)

For affected Intel processors, you will need OS patches plus microcode updates (BIOS updates) from your hardware vendor. You may want to consider disabling hyper-threading on affected processors. Microsoft has updated their guidance on this subject here:

SQL Server guidance to protect against Spectre, Meltdown and Micro-architectural Data Sampling vulnerabilities

Intel has a deep dive on this subject here:

Deep Dive: Intel Analysis of Microarchitectural Data Sampling

Microsoft has already released an updated PowerShell script that you can use to check your current OS and hardware status regarding these exploits. This article walks you through how to download the PowerShell script and run it to check your patching status:

How to test MDS (Zombieload) patch status on Windows systems

Figure 1 shows the results on my AMD Threadripper 2950X system (which is intrinsically less vulnerable to these types of attacks). This is after I patched Windows 10 yesterday.


Figure 1: Get-SpeculationControlSettings Results

BTW, the SQL Server 2017 security update for SSAS that was released on May 14, 2019 is for a completely different issue.

AMD Ryzen 3000 Series Speculation

As Computex Taipei 2019 gets closer (May 27), there are an increasing number of leaks and rumors about the exact specifications and features of the upcoming AMD Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors. This family of 7nm mainstream desktop processors will supposedly have SKUs starting with 6C/12T, going up to 16C/32T. Ryzen 3000 series processors will also have PCIe Gen 4.0 support. These processors are supposed to work in most existing 300 and 400 series AM4 socket motherboards. There will also be new 500 series motherboards that will offer additional features.

See the source image

Figure 2: 2019 AMD Client Lineup

The main unknowns at this point are the exact specifications in terms of base and max boost speeds and how much instructions per clock (IPC) improvement we will see compared to the existing AMD Ryzen 2000 series processors. Depending on what the answers to these are, we may see these processors actually having better single-threaded CPU performance compared to Intel. If that happens, it will further establish AMD as a viable competitor to Intel from nearly every perspective in this market segment. This would be great for the consumer.

Here are some videos that cover the latest rumors and leaks:

The Full Nerd ep. 93: AMD Ryzen 3000 and Radeon Navi rumors, Computex predictions, Q&A

AMD Ryzen 3000 16c specs LEAKED, RX 600 series, Nvidia SUED | Awesome Hardware #0187-A

HW News – Intel Shortage Ending, Ryzen 9 16-Core, & AMD Supercomputer

You might be thinking that this is interesting, but what does it have to do with SQL Server? If the Ryzen 3000 series performs as expected, and is successful in the marketplace, it will be a good precursor to the upcoming 7nm AMD EPYC “Rome” server processors. It will give us some hint about the IPC and clock speed increases that we can expect from the Zen 2 architecture. We should also get much more detail about the Rome processors at Computex.