Escape the Winter and Learn About SQL Server Hardware in Tampa

On February 6-7, 2014, I will be teaching IEHW: Immersion Event on SQL Server Hardware in Tampa, FL. This is a great opportunity for you to learn how to properly select and configure your server hardware and storage subsystem to get the best performance and scalability for the lowest SQL Server licensing costs. It is also a good opportunity to escape the cold weather that has been gripping much of the United States for the past few weeks!

This two-day SQL Server hardware training class explains the core fundamentals and deeper details of database server hardware and storage subsystems for SQL Server database professionals. Many database professionals are unfamiliar with the details and nuances of modern server hardware and storage subsystems, while many server and storage administrators are unfamiliar with the specific workload demands of a SQL Server database server.

Attendees of this class will learn how to analyze, select, and size their server hardware and storage subsystems for different types of SQL Server workloads in order to get the best performance and scalability while minimizing their SQL Server license costs.

This class also covers how to properly configure and benchmark your database server hardware and storage subsystems, along with how to properly install and configure the operating system and SQL Server for the best performance and reliability. The class will show you how to diagnose and troubleshoot hardware and storage related performance issues, and will include coverage of how virtualization interacts with your database server hardware and storage subsystem. Note: the primary audience for this class is SQL Server database professionals, not general system/server admins who are already familiar with server/storage hardware.

I think it is very important for database administrators to know as much as possible about the critical details of their server hardware and storage subsystem, rather than trusting their fate to “Shon the server guy”, who may or may not know that much about modern server hardware (maybe he is a networking specialist). Even if Shon is very knowledgeable about hardware, he may not understand the different demands that SQL Server will create with different types of workloads. I want you to be able to successfully make the case for selecting the best hardware and storage subsystem components for your workload and budget.  You can read more about the registration details here.

Special Pricing Options and Referrals

  • Past attendee price: If you’ve attended an Immersion Event in the past, you can register any time for 75% of the full price ($1,099). Please contact us for instructions.
  • Refer someone: If you know someone who would benefit from this class, refer them to us and when they register, we’ll give you a $50 Amazon gift card. They or you just need to let us know you’re referring them, and when they register, we’ll match them to your referral and send you the gift card.

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.

ProcessorPhysical CoresEstimated TPC-E Score
Xeon X54504177.33
Xeon E5-26434588.90
Xeon E5-26676776.23
Xeon E5-269081034.97