Recommended Intel Xeon E5-2600 v4 Processors for SQL Server

Updated March 31, 2016: Today, Intel has released the fourth generation, 14nm Xeon E5-2600 v4 processor family, code-named “Broadwell-EP”. This is a Tick release from Intel, taking the existing Haswell microarchitecture, and shrinking it from 22nm to 14nm. This new family of processors has more physical cores, a larger total shared L3 cache size, and support for up to DDR4-2400 memory. There will doubtless be a few other minor improvements, as part of the Tick release.

These processors are socket compatible with the current Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 family, “Haswell-EP”, so they should just need an updated BIOS to work in existing model servers that currently support Haswell-EP. What that means for most people is that existing model servers from your server vendor of choice will be able to use these new processors as soon as they are available, meaning less delay to market.

From the official Intel ARK database, I have put together a list of what I think are the best models at each core count for SQL Server usage.


Model Cores Base Clock Speed Turbo Clock Speed L3 Cache
Xeon E5-2637 v4 4 3.5 GHz 3.7 GHz 15 MB
Xeon E5-2643 v4 6 3.4 GHz 3.7 GHz 20 MB
Xeon E5-2667 v4 8 3.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 25 MB
Xeon E5-2640 v4 10 2.4 GHz 3.4 GHz 25 MB
Xeon E5-2687W v4 12 3.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 30 MB
Xeon E5-2690 v4 14 2.6 GHz 3.5 GHz 35 MB
Xeon E5-2697A v4 16 2.6 GHz 3.6 GHz 40 MB
Xeon E5-2697 v4 18 2.3 GHz 3.6 GHz 45 MB
Xeon E5-2698 v4 20 2.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 50 MB
Xeon E5-2699 v4 22 2.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 55 MB

Table 1: Recommended Intel Xeon E5-2600 v4 Family Processors for SQL Server

Notice the dramatic drop in base clock speeds as you go with higher core count models than the eight core Xeon E5-2667 v4 model. Also notice the amount of L3 cache per core decreasing with the higher core count models. It is not clear whether the Xeon E5-2687W v4 (which is meant for workstation use) will be available for server from the major vendors or not. The previous E5-2687 v3 was available, just requiring higher wattage power supplies.

What this means is that most people are going to be much better off from a pure performance perspective with the eight core or lower core count models. They will have much better single-threaded processor performance and much lower SQL Server 2014/2016 licensing costs. The downside is less total CPU capacity, meaning less scalability, as long as you don’t run into storage or memory bottlenecks before you run into CPU bottlenecks.

If your workload can be split across multiple, two-socket database servers, you would be much better off with two or even three database servers, with lower core count, “frequency-optimized” processors (especially the Xeon E5-2643 v4 and the Xeon E5-2667 v4) rather than a single two-socket database server with a much higher core count processor model.

For example, two Dell PowerEdge R730 servers with the eight-core Xeon E5-2667 v4 would be far superior to one Dell PowerEdge R730 server with the sixteen-core Xeon E5-2683 v4 processor. You would have much faster processor cores, more total L3 cache, twice the memory capacity, and twice the number of PCIe 3.0 slots, for the same SQL Server 2014/2016 licensing cost. The cost of the extra server would be pretty negligible compared to the total cost of the hardware and SQL Server licenses. You could probably even go down to the six core Xeon E5-2643 v4 in each of the two servers, dropping your total SQL Server 2014/2016 licensing costs by over $50K.

24 thoughts on “Recommended Intel Xeon E5-2600 v4 Processors for SQL Server

  1. The E5-1600v4 series looked interesting… The E5-1630v4 with a Base Clock of 3.70GHz and Turbo Clock of 4.0Ghz (Phwoar!), cache only 10MB though but the kicker.. no QPI Links.

    RRP $406 vs $996 for the E5-2637v4.

      1. If I need more power. I’d go with 8 core processor like e5-1680 instead of 2x e5-1630. But major server vendors only put these 1 socket only processors in their workstation product line only.

        1. The E5-1600 v4 series is for single-socket servers and workstations. It would be a good choice for smaller workloads, but it is not supported in a two-socket server. You can always choose a single, E5-2600 v4 processor for a two-socket server.

  2. Hi Glenn,

    Do your recommendations hold true still in May of 2017? I found this article very helpful in helping my customers configure a dedicated SQL Server for our software solutions. We use SSAS and some of the MDX queries generated are single-thread limited.

      1. Hi Glen,

        I want to build a server based on 2690 or 2699 E5-V4, but their price is still high.
        Do you expect price drop in E5-2600-V4 lineup in next months, when the V5 lineup will be released?

        thanks, Cep.

  3. Hello Glenn,

    do you have some information about processor Intel® Xeon® E5-2623v4 (2.6GHz/4-core/10MB/85W).
    I don’t see it in the list. SQL have a problem to work with the processor or just is not recommended?

    Thank you for your reply.

    Best Regards,
    Mariyan Stoitsev

  4. Hi, as a current up and coming it technician i would like to know why the e5 1000v4 series is not included in this list?
    the e5 1220,1230,1250, 1260, 1280. lowest base frequency amoung them is 3.4,ghz, highet 4.0. they are single socket only so no scalability, Vms solve that imo. i want to know because i want to build an eccomerce market for my xoutry i want to start with a budget of 4000 for thr server, 800 for my vm host, and 500 for a client pc. it is an mini ecfommerce site by comparism to amazon. Hopefully 9000 total accounts, 50-500 visits a day 3-4 years after launch.

    1. e5 1620v4 3.4ghz —— 4c
      e5 1630v4 3.7gz 4.0ghz 4c
      e5 1650v4 3.6ghz 4.0ghz 6c
      e5 1660v4 3.4ghz 3.8ghz 8c
      e5 1680v4 3.6ghz 4.0ghz 8c

      10m cache for all.

  5. Which one is a better performance option?:

    1) E5-2630 V3 20M 2.4GHZ x 2 = 16 Cores with 128 GB Memory


    2) E5-2637 v3 15M 3.50GHz x 2 = 8 Cores with 128 GB Memory

    Will the extra 8 Cores be better (not considering license costs)?

    1. The E5-2630 v3 would have about 50% more total CPU capacity, but much lower single-threaded CPU performance. If you really think you need an eight-core CPU, the E5-2667 v3 is a MUCH better choice.

      1. Hi Glenn,

        Currently I only have the option between these two processors.

        In this setup 1) E5-2630 V3 20M 2.4GHZ x 2 = 16 Cores with 128 GB Memory, the cost is less and I am able to move the Web server to its own dedicated machine E5-2640, 15M Cache, 2.50 GHz 32 GB.

        In this setup 2) E5-2637 v3 15M 3.50GHz x 2 = 8 Cores with 128 GB Memory, the Web server is on same machine but I can move over in the future.

        Other Details
        SQL Server 2016 Standard
        Raid 10 HP 300GB 12G SAS 15K
        This a API application with a lots of writes…. however daily reports are run on same machine also. (In Current setup, I am facing timeout issues when both happen at same time)

        Which would be a better option to go with based on my scenario?

        Thanks so much for the feed back.

  6. The Intel Xeon E5-2637 v3 will give you much better performance for SQL Server than the other processor. Not to mention that if you are legal with your SQL Server 2016 licenses, the E5-2630 v3 will cost about $15K more for the licenses.

    1. Thank you for the confirmation. This is what I was leaning towards.

      And Many Many Thanks Glenn for being such an amazing resource for everyone in the Database world.

      1. Regarding memory setup, in one of your articles you mentioned “…. you should choose a memory configuration that only uses one DIMM per memory channel (meaning eight DIMMs total in a two-socket system with two Intel Xeon E5-2600 v4 family processors).”

        In my setup with 2x E5-2637 V3:
        1) Is it recommended to setup 16GBs Dimm/channel x 8 Channels = 128GB total memory?
        2) Or other options are OK too, for example, 32GBs Dimm/channel x 4 channels = 128GB total (4 Channels free)?

  7. With the older Haswell-EP and Broadwell-EP Xeon processors, you will get the best memory performance with one DIMM per memory channel. If you can use large enough DIMMs to be able to do that and have your active workload in the SQL Server Buffer pool, that would be ideal.

    Keep in mind that SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition has a license limit of 128GB per instance (plus some more if you are using Columnstore and in-memory OLTP).

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