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|
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.