Selecting an Appropriate Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 Family Processor for SQL Server 2012

Intel has finally released the 22nm Xeon E5-2600 v2 Family (Ivy Bridge-EP) of processors that will be used in two-socket servers. These processors have slightly better single-threaded performance than the previous 32nm Xeon E5-2600 Family (Sandy Bridge-EP) processors, along with higher physical core counts and lower power usage.

They are pin-compatible with the older Sandy Bridge-EP processors, so they will work in existing two-socket servers, such as the Dell PowerEdge R720 or the HP Proliant DL380p Gen 8. This means that you should be able to get an Ivy Bridge-EP in an existing server model fairly quickly.

Once this happens, the question will be which exact E5-2600 v2 processor you should pick for SQL Server 2012 or SQL Server 2014 usage? Since SQL Server 2012 uses core-based licensing, you really want to get the most performance possible from each physical core that you buy a SQL Server core license for.

There are several different choices available, based on your budget, performance and scalability requirements, ranging from four physical cores without hyper-threading to twelve physical cores with hyper-threading.

Remember, only physical cores count for licensing purposes (on non-virtualized servers). If there are two or more models with the same physical core count, you should prefer the one with the highest clock speed (since the license cost is the same).  You also want to avoid the low-power models (that have the L suffix at the end of the model number). They save a relatively small amount of electrical power at the cost of a pretty significant performance penalty.

This leaves five viable choices, depending on your desired physical core count, as shown in Table 1.

Model Cores Base Speed Turbo Speed
E5-2697 v2 12 2.7 GHz 3.5 GHz
E5-2690 v2 10 3.0 GHz 3.6 GHz
E5-2667 v2 8 3.3 GHz 4.0 GHz
E5-2643 v2 6 3.5 GHz 3.8 GHz
E5-2637 v2 4 3.5 GHz 3.8 GHz

Table 1: Recommended Xeon E5-2600 v2 Processor Models for SQL Server 2012/2014

In my opinion, there is no good technical reason to select any of the other available models from this product family for SQL Server 2012/2014 usage.

I think it is interesting that the new eight-core E5-2667 v2 has higher clock speeds and slightly better single-threaded performance than the previous generation, eight-core E5-2690 processor. The new four-core E5-2637 v2 also has higher clock speeds and slightly better single-threaded performance than the previous generation, four-core E5-2643 processor. Getting better performance for the same SQL Server 2012 license cost is always a good thing!

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3 Responses to Selecting an Appropriate Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 Family Processor for SQL Server 2012

  1. Pingback: Six of the Best: October 2013 |

  2. Gabriel Cuevas says:

    Hi Glenn, I’d appreciate some guidance. If we assume that license cost is not a factor and I can choose between the 10 or 12 core models, do you have a preference if the primary variance is clock speed? In a two socket machine, are four additional cores at a lower clock speed going to perform better than the 20 total cores at a higher clock speed? What factors should I consider in making this choice? Thanks in advance!

    • Glenn Berry says:

      That would depend on your workload, i.e. whether it was more of an OLTP workload or more of a DW workload, and on your expected volume of concurrent queries. For a pure OLTP workload, a lower core count processor with a higher clock speed will perform better for individual queries (which are mostly going to be running on one core). You will have less overall CPU capacity with fewer total cores, so you will be able to support fewer concurrent queries.

      If you have more of a DW workload, with longer-running queries that are usually running one more than one core, then the 12-core SKU will give better performance.

      All of this assumes that you have enough RAM and enough I/O performance so that the CPU is the main bottleneck.

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