A SQL Server Hardware Nugget A Day – Day 9

For Day 9 of my SQL Server hardware series, I want to give my current recommended AMD Processor List for different sizes of database servers and different workload types. There is not as much change on the AMD front as there has been on the Intel side recently, so that makes this list a little easier. Recommending AMD processors is made even simpler by the fact that AMD lets you use the exact same processor in two socket servers and in four socket and above servers, and they have had that capability for several years. Until the very recent release of the Intel Xeon E7 family of processors, Intel had completely separate processor lines for one socket, two socket and four socket and above servers.

Until the AMD Bulldozer family of processors is released sometime later in 2011 (presumably in Q3) the processor you want is either an Opteron 4184 or an Opteron 6180 SE. These are they best processors they have in their respective server form factors. Generally speaking, these two processors (especially the Opteron 6180 SE) do better with DW/DSS workloads than with OLTP workloads, because of their high physical core counts. The Opteron 6180 SE “Magny Cours” has twelve physical cores per processor, without using anything like hyper-threading to produce logical cores. Having lots of physical cores is helpful for DW/DSS type workloads, where you often have long-running, complex queries that are likely to be parallelized by the query optimizer.

In all honesty, I believe you are better off with an Intel processor for SQL Server OLTP workloads. The Intel Xeon X5690 will simply smoke the Opteron 6180 SE in single-threaded performance. As I have said before, I really hope that the Bulldozer lives up to its advance billing, so that AMD can close the performance gap with Intel.

So, here is my current list of recommended AMD processors:

One socket or budget two socket server
•    Opteron 4184 (45nm Lisbon), six cores
•    2.8GHz, 6MB L3 cache, 6.4GT/s

Two socket server
•    Opteron 6180 SE (45nm Magny-Cours), twelve cores
•    2.5GHz, 12MB L3 Cache, 6.4GT/s

Four socket server
•    Opteron 6180 SE (45nm Magny-Cours), twelve cores
•    2.5GHz, 12MB L3 Cache, 6.4GT/s

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6 Responses to A SQL Server Hardware Nugget A Day – Day 9

  1. Really appreciate this series, thanks for the brain dump.
    I can attest to the AMD vs. Intel difference. In my own head-to-head comparisons the Intel X7560s rebuilt identically fragmented indexes 20% quicker than AMD 6180s.

    • Phillip says:

      I can get 4 6180 SE’s for $6300, or 4 X7560’s for $17,500. Is the 20% speed difference in rebuilding fragmented indexes (not really a valid test IMO) worth a 277% price increase?

  2. Pingback: A SQL Server Hardware Nugget A Day – Day 12 | Glenn Berry's SQL Server Performance

  3. Glenn Berry says:

    Hi Phillip,

    When I just checked prices for those two processors online, I am seeing the AMD Opteron 6180 SE in the $3200-$4000 range.

    I see the Intel Xeon X7560 in the $3600-$4400 range. The Intel does significantly better on OLTP workloads, so I think it is worth the extra cost, especially if you factor in the cost of a SQL Server Enterprise Edition license.


    • Phillip says:

      To clarify, that is the price if purchased with a new system – HP DL585 G7/HP DL580 G7. The premise of which, is that if I can show a price/perf. graph, is the performance increase from the X7560 worth the increased cost?

      Now i’m working up specs for new servers based on the Westmere-EX.

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

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