(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). It also can just be technically-oriented items that I find interesting.

New Intel Processor Security Vulnerabilities Revealed

Intel has disclosed two new processor security vulnerabilities, including the TSX Asynchronous Abort (TAA) issue and a Jump Conditional Code (JCC) Erratum. These two issues affect most recent Intel processors, including the most recent Intel Cascade Lake-SP server processors.

The continued emergence of these types of issues (and the firmware and software fixes required to mitigate them) has an increasing negative effect on the performance of Intel processors.

Intel Reveals TAA Vulnerabilities in Cascade Lake Chips and a New JCC Bug

Zombieload V2 TAA Performance Impact Benchmarks On Cascade Lake

Deep Dive: Intel® Transactional Synchronization Extensions (Intel® TSX) Asynchronous Abort

Benchmarks Of JCC Erratum: A New Intel CPU Bug With Performance Implications On Skylake Through Cascade Lake

Intel vs AMD Processor Security: Who Makes the Safest CPUs?

Microsoft’s official guidance for SQL Server for these types of issues is here. Microsoft has released a KB article that shows how to change a Registry setting to disable TSX (which is one way to prevent the TAA issue).


Microsoft Offers New Azure VMs Running AMD EPYC 7002 Processors

Microsoft recently introduced fourth-generation D-series instances (Da_v4 and Das_v4) which target enterprise-grade applications, relational databases, in-memory caching and analytics. These VMs use 32C/64T AMD EPYC 7452 processors that support up to 96 vCPUs, 384GB of DDR4 RAM and 2.4TB of SSD-based temporary storage for each VM.

Microsoft has new fourth-generation E-series VMs (Ea_v4 and Eas_v4) that target business-critical workloads that need large amounts of memory. These VMs also run on AMD EPYC 7452 processors, supporting up to 96 vCPUs, 674GB of DDR4 RAM and 2.4TB SSD-based temporary storage for each VM.

The Das_v4 and the Eas_v4 series offer premium SSD managed disks, which have much better performance for I/O intensive workloads, such as SQL Server.

Explore all Virtual Machine options

Microsoft also has Azure NVv4 instances for virtual desktops using the 64C/128T AMD EPYC 7742 processor and AMD Radeon Instinct MI25 GPUs. AMD had an announcement about this during the Ignite conference.