Using TPC-E OLTP Benchmark Scores to Compare Processors

One of the things I do at SQLskills is paid consulting for customers who are looking to upgrade their database servers to new hardware, a new operating system, and a new version of SQL Server. Part of this process is a comparison of the estimated TPC-E score of the existing system compared to the estimated TPC-E score on the new system. Here is an example of some of the type of analysis that I do as part of that process.

Imagine a legacy system that is a Dell PowerEdge 2950 with one 45nm, quad-core, 3.0GHz Intel Xeon X5450 “Harpertown” processor, along with 64GB of RAM. That processor has a 1333MHz FSB and a 12MB L2 cache. It has the 45nm Core2 Quad “Harpertown” microarchitecture, which means that it does not support Intel hyper-threading or Intel Turbo Boost, and it uses the older symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) architecture instead of the newer non-uniform memory access (NUMA) architecture.

Nearest TPC-E Comparable Result for Existing System

There is a TPC-E result from 12/11/2007 for a Dell PowerEdge 2900 system with one 65nm, quad-core, 2.66GHz Intel Xeon X5355 “Clovertown” processor, along with 48GB of RAM. That processor has a 1333MHz FSB and an 8MB L2 cache. It has the 65nm Core2 Quad “Clovertown” microarchitecture, which means that it also does not support Intel hyper-threading or Intel Turbo Boost, and it also uses the older SMP architecture. The Intel Xeon 5300 series is one Intel Tick release older than the Intel Xeon 5400 series, so there is a relatively small difference in their relative performance. This actual TPC-E score is 144.88. The Dell system from 2007 was running SQL Server 2005 on Windows Server 2003.

Comparing that Dell TPC-E system to the existing system, we have to make some adjustments to account for the clock speed difference, L2 cache size difference and the Intel Tick release difference. A 3.0GHz clock speed is 12.4% higher than a 2.66GHz, and I estimate that the combination of a larger L2 cache and the newer Tick release would be another 10% difference. If we multiply 144.88 times 1.224, we get a result of 177.33 as an estimated TPC-E score for the current legacy system.

Nearest TPC-E Comparable Result for New System

There is also a TPC-E result from 11/21/2012 for an HP Proliant DL380p Gen 8 system with two 32nm, eight-core, 2.9GHz Intel Xeon E5-2690 “Sandy Bridge-EP” processors, along with 256GB of RAM. This has the 32nm Sandy Bridge-EP microarchitecture, which means that it supports both Intel hyper-threading and Intel Turbo Boost, and it uses the newer NUMA architecture. It also has PCI-E 3.0 support. The actual TPE-E result for this system is 1881.76. This system is running on Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012.

Since we want to minimize our SQL Server 2012 core-based license costs, we are considering only using one actual Xeon E5-2600 series processor in the new server, possibly with a lower core count. The best choices for SQL Server 2012 are the four-core 3.3GHz Intel Xeon E5-2643, the six-core 2.9GHz Intel Xeon E5-2667, and the eight-core 2.9GHz Intel Xeon E5-2690. These three processors have slightly different base and Turbo clock speeds and different L3 cache sizes (although the size per core is the same) and different core counts that must be accounted for. We also need to account for the fact that we will only have one physical processor in the system instead of two.

With a NUMA architecture in a two-socket machine, you will get quite good scaling as you go from one processor to two processors. I believe we should use an estimate of 55% (i.e. one processor will have 55% of the scalability of two identical processors in the NUMA architecture system). We will have to adjust for the core-count difference in the six-core and quad-core processors. We also need to adjust for the higher base clock speed difference in the quad-core Xeon E5-2643 system.

The two-socket Xeon E5-2690 system has an actual TPC-E score of 1881.76. If we multiply that by .55 we get an estimated TPC-E score of 1034.97 with one Xeon E5-2690. If we multiply that by .75, we get an estimated TPC-E score of 776.23 with one Xeon E5-2667.

If we take the 1034.97 estimate for a single eight-core Xeon E5-2690 and multiply that by .50, we get a result of 517.49 for the four-core Xeon E5-2643. We also need to multiply that by 1.138 to account for the 3.3GHz base clock speed compared to the base 2.9GHz clock speed. This gives us an estimated TPC-E score of 588.90 for a single Xeon E5-2643 processor.

The table below summarizes these TPC-E score estimates.

Processor Physical Cores Estimated TPC-E Score
Xeon X5450 4 177.33
Xeon E5-2643 4 588.90
Xeon E5-2667 6 776.23
Xeon E5-2690 8 1034.97

2 thoughts on “Using TPC-E OLTP Benchmark Scores to Compare Processors

  1. Very impressive, and thank you for sharing this with us. One question, it sounds like you’d be considering a single E5-2690 with 8 cores instead of two E5-2643’s with 4 cores each. Is there a reason you’d want to do this?

    I can see the argument that you could add another processor later, but that’s also limiting the amount of memory you can have in the box. The only real reason I’d see is that it’s easier to get approval on future upgrades if you were to say it has an open slot that just needs populated as opposed to lets buy two new ones to replace two working processors with faster cores.

    1. You are correct that having one socket populated will limit your available RAM by 50%. Depending on the exact processor SKU you choose, you might be better off to get two faster, four-core processors, rather than one, eight-core processor. That would make it a harder sell to upgrade later. So, you could argue either way, depending on the exact situation and politics in your organization.

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