Glenn’s Technical Insights For June 30, 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).

Leaked Intel Internal Memo About AMD

There was quite a bit of discussion and commentary last week about a leaked memo from an internal Intel “Circuit News” employee portal. This memo, which is entitled AMD competitive profile: Where we go toe-to-toe, why they are resurgent, which chips of ours beat theirs“. The memo is a pretty frank analysis of Intel’s current challenges in the desktop and server CPU market. Since it was written for internal consumption at Intel, it also seems to be little bit of a “buck up the troops” document, which seems understandable in that context.

The 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 series processors and new X570 chipset motherboards are going to be on store shelves on July 7, 2019. The review embargos will expire on the same day, so we will probably have many reviews and benchmark numbers from a multitude of reputable 3rd party review sites. That is when we will finally know for sure whether the AMD Ryzen 3000 series processors actually have better single-threaded CPU performance than the best modern Intel processors.

This matters for SQL Server because the upcoming (Q3 2019) AMD 7nm EPYC “Rome” processors use the same Zen 2 architecture as the Ryzen 3000 desktop processors. If Ryzen 3000 lives up to the expectations and hype, that will be a good omen for “Rome”. SQL Server core-based licensing makes single-threaded CPU performance important if you want to maximize CPU performance and capacity while keeping license costs under control. Having a viable alternative to Intel for server processors is good for the market. Strong competition between AMD and Intel will force both companies to continue to innovate at a more rapid pace.

Despite what you may read and hear, Intel is not going to completely fail in those markets. They will lose some market share, and they will probably have to respond by offering lower prices for many of their existing processors. Intel is definitely under pressure in those two market segments, and they just don’t have an announced product release that will be a good competitive response for at least six to twelve months.


Microsoft Releases SQL Server 2019 CTP 3.1

On June 26, 2019, Microsoft released SQL Server 2019 CTP 3.1. The release notes are here. Some of the highlights for the database engine include the ability to have the SQL Server setup program suggest recommended MIN and MAX Server memory values (which you can override) during installation.

SQL Server 2019 CTP 3.1

Figure 1: Memory Configuration During Installation

Another improvement is a new option for indexes, which is OPTIMIZE_FOR_SEQUENTIAL_KEY. This lets you enable an optimization within the database engine that helps improve throughput for high-concurrency inserts into the index. This option is intended for indexes that are prone to last-page insert contention, typically seen with indexes that have a sequential key such as an identity column, sequence, or date/time column.

Microsoft continues to add new features to every SQL Server 2019 CTP release. So far, SQL Server 2019 looks like it is going to be good version release with a lot of genuinely useful new features and improvements compared to SQL Server 2017.



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