Using CPU-Z to Discover Hardware Information

I think it is very important to be able to discover exactly what type of hardware is in an existing database server, along with how it is configured. I am always disappointed when I ask someone what kind of hardware is in one of their servers, and I get some vague answer like “I don’t know for sure. I think it is a Xeon?” As a database professional, you really do need to know the gory details of the hardware that you are using to run SQL Server. Old, under-powered hardware can make even the best designed and optimized database run poorly, making you, the DBA look bad. Having modern, powerful hardware supporting a well-designed and tuned database will make you look like a rock star. After all, nobody has ever complained about their database being too fast!

CPU-Z is a freeware system profiler that lets you identify a wealth of interesting and important information about any machine that is running on any recent version of Windows. It is available for download at This tool is very popular with hardware enthusiasts, who like to use it to document how much they have been able to overclock their processor.  You can use it for a more mundane purpose, i.e. finding out some of the low level hardware details about your database server. I always use the no install version, which is just an executable file inside of a zip file. Running this executable analyzes a system in a few seconds, answering several important questions that you may have about the machine, such as whether the hardware is 64-bit capable, the size of the installed memory sticks (is it four 1GB sticks or two 2GB sticks), and the exact model number of the processor(s).

The CPU tab gives you a very high level of detail about the CPU(s) in a machine, including the model number, codename, manufacturing technology, clock speed, supported instruction sets and cache types and sizes. It also shows the number of cores and number of threads (which equates to logical CPUs visible to the operating system). The Caches tab gives you more information about the various CPU caches, while the Mainboard tab reveals information about the manufacturer, model number, chipset and main MIOS version of the server motherboard. The Memory tab tells you the type and total amount of RAM installed in the system, while the SPD tab tells you how many memory slots are available in the system, and what size and type of memory stick is installed in each slot. This is extremely useful when you are considering whether you can add more RAM to an existing system.

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