Glenn’s Technical Insights For August 11, 2019

(Glenn’s Technical 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 Releases EPYC 7002 Series Processors

On August 7, 2019, AMD finally unveiled their new 7nm EPYC 7002 Series server processors, formally code-named “Rome” at the AMD EPYC Horizon Event. This is the second generation EPYC server processor that uses the same Zen 2 architecture as the AMD Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors. These new processors are socket compatible with the previous generation AMD EPYC 7001 processors, but you will need a new model server to be able to leverage PCIe 4.0 support.

This new series includes 19 public launch SKUs that have anywhere from 8 physical cores to 64 physical cores. 2nd Generation AMD EPYC processors deliver up to 23% more instructions per clock (IPC) per core on server workloads and up to a 4X larger L3 cache compared to the previous generation AMD EPYC 7001 Series “Naples” processors.

There is already very broad industry support behind these new processors, with Dell EMC, HPE, Gigabyte, Lenovo, SuperMicro, and TYAN announcing new server models for these processors. Google is already using AMD EPYC 7002 processors for internal infrastructure workloads and will be offering virtual machines using these processors later in 2019. Microsoft is offering HBv2 virtual machines that will running on AMD EPYC 7002 series processors.

The initial reviews and benchmarks have been very impressive.

AMD EPYC 7002 Series Rome Delivers a Knockout

AMD Rome Second Generation EPYC Review: 2x 64-core Benchmarked

A detailed look at AMD’s new Epyc “Rome” 7nm server CPUs

This processor series is going to have a huge impact on the server market. I’ll be writing a lot more about this in the future!


SQL Server 2016 and SQL Server 2017 Cumulative Updates

On July 31, 2019, Microsoft released SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU8 (Build 13.0.5426.0) which has 28 public hotfixes. If you are on SQL Server 2016, you really should be on the SP2 branch by now, especially since both the RTM and SP1 branches are no longer supported by Microsoft. If you are on the RTM or SP1 branch, you will have to install SP2, and then install the latest SP2 Cumulative Update to get fully up to date. I’ve already updated my blog post that highlights the more important hotfixes (in my opinion) for each CU in the SP2 branch.

Performance and Stability Related Fixes in Post-SQL Server 2016 SP2 Builds

On August 1, 2019, Microsoft released SQL Server 2017 CU16 (Build 14.0.3223.3) which has 39 public hotfixes. Starting with SQL Server 2017, Microsoft is not using Service Packs as a servicing mechanism for SQL Server, only Cumulative Updates. Microsoft has fixed hundreds of bugs since SQL Server 2017 RTM, and they have also added a significant number of product improvements and new features since the RTM release. I’ve already updated my blog post that highlights the more important hotfixes (in my opinion) for each SQL Server 2017 CU that has been released.

Performance and Stability Fixes in SQL Server 2017 CU Builds

You really are better off trying to stay as current as possible on your SQL Server builds. Here is Microsoft’s official guidance:

Microsoft recommends ongoing, proactive installation of CUs as they become available

  • SQL Server CUs are certified to the same levels as Service Packs, and should be installed at the same level of confidence.
  • Historical data shows that a significant number of support cases involve an issue that has already been addressed in a released CU.
  • CUs may contain added value over and above hotfixes. This includes supportability, manageability, and reliability updates.

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