A SQL Server Hardware Nugget A Day – Day 2

For Day 2 of this blog series, I am going to talk a little about the upcoming Intel Westmere-EX processor family. Instead of this processor series being called the Intel Xeon 7600 series (as was expected), it is going to be called the Intel Xeon E7 series, with separate model numbers for two socket, four socket and eight socket servers.

The Intel Xeon E7 processors have up to ten cores (plus hyper-threading in most models). They have four Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) links and two memory controllers, which each have two dual-channel interfaces per memory controller. The new memory controllers support 32GB DIMMs and low-power memory modules. This means that a four socket system could support up to 2TB of RAM (which is the current operating system limit for Windows Server 2008 R2).  Of course, you will need pretty deep pockets to do that, because 32GB DIMMs will be very expensive when they are first available. My guess is that 32GB DIMMs will cost around $3000 each, at least initially.

Using the on-board memory buffer, the E7 processors can run DDR3-1333 memory at data rates of 800, 978 and 1066 MHz.  The E7 processors will support AES instructions, Trusted Execution Technology, and Virtualization VT-x, VT-d and VT-c.

Intel claims up to 40% better database performance for the top E7-4870 model in comparison to the previous generation Xeon X7560 model. Performance of the E7-4870 CPU in integer and floating-point applications is better than the X7560 by up to 22% and 19% respectively. The E7 processors will be socket compatible with the current Xeon 7500 processors, which means that existing systems from your favorite vendor should be able to use them as soon as they are available.

Here are some specifications for the four-socket E7 models.

Model Cores Frequency L3 Cache QPI TDP
E7-4870 10 2.4GHz 30MB 6.4GT/s 130w
E7-4860 10 2.26GHz 24MB 6.4GT/s 130W
E7-4850 10 2.0GHz 24MB 6.4GT/s 130W
E7-4830 8 2.13GHz 24MB 6.4GT/s 105W
E7-4820 8 2.0GHz 18MB 6.4GT/s 105W

The E7-4850 and above have 10 cores, plus hyper-threading, so a four socket server could have 80 logical cores. Don’t forget that you need to have SQL Server 2008 R2 running on top of Windows Server 2008 R2 in order to use more than 64 logical cores.

The E7-4850 and above will also use Turbo Boost to increase the clock speed of some cores by up to 400MHz, which can give a nice performance boost to single-threaded workloads.

Finally, here is some Intel “marketechure” about this series.

I think Intel might be launching this series in the next week or so.

This entry was posted in Computer Hardware, SQL Server 2008 R2 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A SQL Server Hardware Nugget A Day – Day 2

  1. Pingback: A SQL Server Hardware Nugget A Day – Series Recap | Glenn Berry's SQL Server Performance

  2. Jeremy W says:

    Glenn thanks for putting all of this info together. I am currently looking at a server replacement strategy and am interested to hear your thoughts on the Intel EP family versus the EX family for a 2 socket system – I did have my server vendor in a day or two ago and the big push was the EX family but there was no compelling database specific metrics in my mind. In day one of this series the argument is made for the EP family being the best processor for SQL Server in a 2 socket system in the near term. Is this still your opinion given the release of the EX E7 series servers?

    • Glenn Berry says:

      The EP family for a given generation typical has higher clock speeds and an earlier release date (by anywhere from 6-18 months) compared to the EX family for that same generation. Because of this, an EP processor is going to be better in a two scocket server for most workloads.

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