Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 Product Family and SQL Server

Intel finally announced their latest 22nm Xeon E5 v3 Product Family (Haswell-EP) today, which includes 27 different processor models (SKUs) for both one and two-socket servers. These SKUs go from four-core models, all the way up to eighteen-core models. This is an Intel Tock release, meaning a new microarchitecture, but still using the 22nm manufacturing process. We have previously seen the release of Haswell in the mobile space, mainstream desktop and enthusiast desktop space, so now it is time for one and two-socket servers to get Haswell-EP.

With SQL Server 2012/2014 Enterprise Edition, you must use core-based licensing, with a minimum of four physical cores per processor. Each one of those core licenses is relatively expensive, so you want to get the highest performance possible out of each physical core. When you are selecting a processor for SQL Server 2012/2014 it is foolish, false economy to select a lower-end, slower processor (with the same core-count) as a higher-end processor (with the same core count) in order to save a fairly small amount of money on hardware costs. Microsoft charges the same per core license cost regardless of the performance of the core.

Table 1 shows the “best” processor models for SQL Server, at the different physical counts, where you would get the best performance for a given core count. Keep in mind, as you go down in your core count per processor, from 18 to 16 for example, you would be saving twice that amount in core license costs with a two-socket server with both processor sockets populated. Saving the cost of four Enterprise Edition core licenses would pretty much pay for the base hardware cost of a nicely equipped server (not including any high-end flash storage).

Processor Cores Base Clock Turbo Clock L3 Cache
E5-2699 v3 18 2.3GHz 3.6GHz 45MB
E5-2698 v3 16 2.3GHz 3.6GHz 40MB
E5-2697 v3 14 2.6GHz 3.6GHz 35MB
E5-2690 v3 12 2.6GHz 3.5GHz 30MB
E5-2660 v3 10 2.6GHz 3.3GHz 25MB
E5-2667 v3 8 3.2GHz 3.6GHz 20MB
E5-2643 v3 6 3.4GHz 3.7GHz 20MB
E5-2637 v3 4 3.5GHz

3.7GHz 15MB

Table 1: Selected Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 Processor Specifications


Intel claims that the Haswell-EP processors have an improved Turbo Boost, so that they will spend more time with more cores running close to or at full Turbo clock speed. One processor model I really like, especially for budget-minded organizations is the six-core E5-2643 v3, which has a very high Base and Turbo Clock speed, along with 20MB of L3 cache (the same as the eight-core E5-2667 v3).

You also don’t want to forget that both SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 Standard Edition still have an artificially low core count restriction of four sockets or 16 physical cores (whichever is lower). SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition has a RAM limit of 64GB for the database Engine, while SQL Server 2014 Standard Edition has a RAM limit of 128GB. These limits are all per instance, not per server.

These processors require new model servers, since they are not electrically or physically compatible with the preceding E5-2600 or E5-2600 v2 Product Families. All of the major server vendors have also announced new models that will use the Haswell-EP processor.

7 thoughts on “Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 Product Family and SQL Server

  1. Not sure about the point of listing the Max Turbo Clock since that is when only 1-2 cores are being used. Here are the significant turbo clocks:

    E5-2699 v3, 18 cores, 2.3 GHz base clock
    Max Turbo Clock with 9-18 cores being used: 2.8 GHz

    E5-2698 v3, 16 cores, 2.3 GHz base clock
    Max Turbo Clock with 9-16 cores being used: 2.8 GHz

    E5-2697 v3, 14 cores, 2.6 GHz base clock
    Max Turbo Clock with 6-14 cores being used: 3.1 GHz

    E5-2690 v3, 12 cores, 2.6 GHz base clock
    Max Turbo Clock with 5-12 cores being used: 3.1 GHz

    E5-2660 v3, 10 cores, 2.6 GHz base clock
    Max Turbo Clock with 5-10 cores being used: 2.9 GHz

    E5-2667 v3, 8 cores, 3.2 GHz base clock
    Max Turbo Clock with 3-8 cores being used: 3.4 GHz

    E5-2643 v3, 6 cores, 3.4 GHz base clock
    Max Turbo Clock with 3-6 cores being used: 3.6 GHz

    E5-2637 v3, 4 cores, 3.5 GHz base clock
    Max Turbo Clock with 3-4 cores being used: 3.6 GHz

    New with the E5-2600v3 is that AVX instructions are executed with special base- and turbo clocks that are typically 0.1 to 0.5 MHz slower than than the regular frequencies.

    Source (page 11-14):

    1. Listing the Turbo clock speed is a relevant statistic, especially with Haswell-EP, which is more aggressive about running multiple cores at higher speeds than previous processors. That said, my argument has always been that people should look at lower core count, “frequency-optimized” processors that have higher base clock speeds, for SQL Server usage.

  2. Totally agree with you about choosing “frequency-optimized” processors and that turbo clock speeds is a parameter to consider when choosing the best cpu for your particular use case. But when looking at turbo clocks speeds it’s important to look at the turbo clock speed that matters the most and that is the lowest turbo clock speed which I listed in my post above. The max turbo clock speed that is used when only 1-2 cores are enabled will probably never be used unless you totally overspecced your processors.

  3. Good day

    Are you able to provide similar advice for a 4 cpu server that a client needs for his SQL Data Warehouse environment. He is looking to replace his current 4 cpu (E5-4650 2.7Ghz 8 cores 20MB) server in order to optimise (cost of) the SQL licences – they will be moving to SQL 2014 soon.

    He’s looking at a lower core count higher frequency solution – the best available in the specific server series is the E5-4655v3 processor (2.9Gh/6-core/30MB). This would save a substantial amount of $$$ for the SQL licences. However, it appears performance will be slower on this option than on the current server.

    What would you advise?

    Thank you!

    1. Why do you think that an E5-4655 v3 processor would be “slower” than an E5-4650 processor?


      The E5-4655 v3 has a higher base clock speed, a larger L3 cache spread across few cores, and a higher QPI speed. It is also using the newer Haswell microarchitecture, and DDR4 RAM. The Turbo speed of the E5-4650 is slightly higher, but it will probably not spend much time at full turbo speed. You give up some overall CPU capacity with six cores instead of eight cores, but you will have faster cores, so overall, your capacity will be pretty close, with better single-threaded performance on the E5-4655 v3.

    1. @Suzanna,

      I am not sure what your point is here. My general advice for SQL Server is to pick the processor with the best single-threaded performance for a given core count. For example, Intel typically offers several different processors (from the same family and generation) that have eight physical cores. In order to get the best single-threaded processor performance from each relatively expensive SQL Server core license, you want to pick the fastest processor at that core count, looking at the base clock speed, the Turbo clock speed, the L3 cache size, etc. Since Microsoft charges the same license cost per core regardless of the performance of the core, this just makes simple, common sense.

      Solidworks is giving the same advice, for somewhat different reasons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other articles

Imagine feeling confident enough to handle whatever your database throws at you.

With training and consulting from SQLskills, you’ll be able to solve big problems, elevate your team’s capacity, and take control of your data career.