Intel CPU’s for a SQL DBA- Few Awesome Resources to start with!

In recent times, I started spending most of my time analyzing the Hardware of a Physical Server and thought of sharing few resources from Intel’s website which i found very useful myself(Exploring CPU). Believe me guys, underlying H/W is the most interesting aspect to explore if you’ve really started thinking about “Well, This is a brand new X64 Windows Server 2008R2 running SQL Server 2008R2  Everything Looks Okay with my Server, But why is not upto our expectations? What’s really missing in my Server??” When you start thinking about these aspects, you’ll come to know loooooooot of secrets which are hidden behind the scenes.

Most of the times as a SQL DBA, we are only concerned about Memory and IO but as far as CPU is concerned, we are masked at a very highlevel. How many of us(SQL DBA’s) really understand the underlying micro architecture of our CPU’s?? You might be thinking, well, do i really need to know that being a DBA? The answer is Yes, to Some extent at least! As a DBA, if you are responsible to architect your SQL Server, if you’ve liberty to recommend the underlying hardware, then definitely yes! You should know this.

Let’s consider a scenario, You were given a choice to choose between Intel Xeon Xxxxx, Intel Xeon Exxxx and Intel Xeon Lxxxx. What would you choose without understanding what X,E,L really mean to Intel??? (I’ve seen people choosing L3406 for SQL Servers even in Year 2011, which is one of the biggest flaw you could do while architechting a SQL Server.)

X –  Performance – Best choice for a SQL Server in general.(PS I’m not talking about new numbering-Modeling[E3/E7]/OLTP vs OLAP)

E – Mainstream(rack – optimized)

L – Power – Optimized – Worst choice for a SQL Server in general.

Below is the information I captured from Intel’s official public website.

Intel® Xeon® Processor E3 and E7 families

The latest Intel® Xeon® processor numbering system is an alpha numeric representation of product line, product family and version. An ‘L’ suffix will be used identify a low power processor. The version number will not be used in the first processor generation.

Processor Name = Brand (Intel® Xeon® processor) + Number (E3- 1 2 35)

Intel® Xeon® processor families and product lines

Processor Family Product Line System Type
Intel® Xeon® processor E7 Multi-processor
Intel® Xeon® processor E5 (future release)
Intel® Xeon® processor E3 Single-processor

Intel® Xeon® and Intel® Itanium® processors

Intel® Xeon® and Intel® Itanium® processor numbers are categorized in four digit numerical sequences, and may have an alpha prefix to indicate power and performance.

Processor Name = Brand (Intel® Xeon® processor) + Number (X5482)

Alpha Prefix Description
X Performance
E Mainstream (rack-optimized)
L Power-Optimized

Intel® Xeon® and Intel® Itanium® processor families and their number sequence

Processor Family Number Sequence System Type
Intel® Itanium® processor 9000 Multi-processor and dual-processor
Intel® Xeon® processor 7000 Multi-processor
Intel® Xeon® processor 5000 Dual-processor
Intel® Xeon® processor 3000 Single-processor

To architect a SQL Server is quite different from architechting any other Physical Server running any other application. Looks like i’m deviating a bit( a lot 😉 this post is not to discuss, what are the considerations for building a SQL Server) from what i actually thought of sharing with you all! Let’s go the actual intended content for this blog post..Sighs!!

My Fav places to explore Intel CPU Architectures:

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/silicon-innovations/intel-tick-tock-model-general.html

http://www.intel.com/products/processor_number/about/xeon_itanium.htm

http://ark.intel.com/#serverprocessors

Hope this gives a kick start to dive deep into Intel CPU architectures. Cheers!!…

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