(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 related items that I find interesting.

Microsoft SQL Server Cumulative Updates

Microsoft has recently released (and then removed) SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU9. There was nothing wrong with the actual payload of SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU9, but there was a problem if you tried to uninstall it. To be fair, uninstalling a CU doesn’t happen that often, but if you want/need to do it, it should work properly. It was quickly replaced with SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU10, which is identical to CU9, except that the uninstall issue has been fixed.  Since SQL Server 2016 SP1 is no longer supported, there was no CU for that branch.

Microsoft also released SQL Server 2017 CU17 on October 8, 2019. This is Build 14.0.3238.1, with 34 public hotfixes. So far, there are no reported issues with this CU. I wrote more about this CU here. Despite some recent stumbles by Microsoft, I am still a big proponent of trying to keep your SQL Server instances as up to date as possible. That does not mean throwing a new CU into Production the day it is released, but it also does not mean avoiding patching SQL Server indefinitely either.

Intel Cascade Lake-X HEDT Processors

On October 7, 2019, Intel released a new line of high end desktop (HEDT) processors for the existing X299 chipset. This is the 14nm Core i9-10900 Series that is meant for HEDT and workstation usage on the LGA2066 platform on existing X299 and new X299X motherboards. There are four SKUs in this release, ranging from 10C/20T up to 18C/36T.

These processors have slightly higher base and Turbo Boost clock speeds than the previous Skylake-X HEDT processors, with support for up to 256GB of DDR4-2933 memory. They also have several other minor improvements compared to Skylake-X. Overall, the majority of the enthusiast tech community seems to be pretty underwhelmed by this product family.

The big news with this release is a rather dramatic price reduction compared to Skylake-X, especially on the higher core count SKUs. For example, the new 18C/36T Core i9-10980XE has a launch price of $979.00 compared the previous 18C/36T Core i9-9980XE that went for about $2000.00.

New Intel Core I9 X Series Refresh SKUs LGA 2066

Figure 1: Intel Core i9-10900 Series SKUs

These price cuts seem to be a pretty obvious response to what AMD has been doing over the past year (and what they are going to release in November). AMD is due to release the 7nm 16C/32T mainstream desktop Ryzen 9 3950X for $750.00 in November, along with the 7nm 3rd Generation Threadripper processors. The 3rd Generation Threadripper processors are rumored to have between 24C/48T at launch, up to possibly 64C/128T later. There are also strong rumors of new TRX40 and TRX80 chipsets that may have additional memory channels and more PCIe 4.0 lanes compared to 2nd Generation Threadripper. We don’t know clock speeds or pricing yet.

This is another example of why viable competition between Intel and AMD is good for the market and for consumers. AMD seems to be winning a lot of battles in different market segments lately, but Intel has many talented engineers and lots of resources that they can throw into the fight. Intel will eventually have a better response than drastic price cuts, so this will be an interesting fight over the next couple of years.