MS SQL Server 2008 Power Analysis

We'll let power consumption be the final judge:

Concurrency CMT No CMT Power Increase
CMT vs. No CMT
HTT No HTT Power Increase
HTT vs. No HTT
25 144 141 2% 159 156 2%
40 156 160 -2% 169 163 4%
80 185 194 -5% 182 174 4%
100 211 209 1% 192 177 8%
125 223 224 0% 201 186 8%
200 250 254 -2% 235 213 10%
300 290 283 3% 277 251 10%
350 305 288 6% 299 275 9%
400 316 288 10% 303 275 10%
500 316 291 9% 314 275 14%
600 324 299 9% 312 285 9%
800 324 308 5% 320 289 11%

CMT increases the amount of power consumed by 6-10%, but only at high loads. The extra clusters probably allow the modules (as AMD likes to call the cores) to sleep more frequently at lighter loads, and we measure no increase or even a small decrease in power consumption. The message is clear: there is no reason to disable CMT when running MS SQL Server.

Hyper-Threading seems to increase the power dissipation always. At higher concurrencies, the higher performance must be paid with a 10-14% power increase, so you might consider disabling Hyper-Threading if your want to cap maximum power output for some reason (e.g. getting to close to the maximum amount of amps allowed in your rack).

MS SQL Server OLAP Conclusion

We invested 10 times more time in our MS SQL Server testing, but frankly we are glad we did. The Opteron 6174 seems to be a true champion from a simple "throughput/power at 100%" analysis, but the reality is that servers hardly ever run at such loads. Under light loads, the Opteron 6174 is either slower and consumes more power (Balanced power setting) or it consumes quite a bit more (High Performance power setting) while being roughly on par with the competition in terms of performance. At medium load, the Opterons are beaten solidly by the Xeon; the Xeon consumes quite a bit less power in "Balanced" and performs a lot better (response times).

At the end of the day, the Xeon X5650 is the better chip (especially in "Balanced" mode) but it's also the more expensive one. The Opteron 6276 price/performance/watt ratio remains quite attractive, but if pricing is taken into account everything will depend on which MS SQL Server License you will get. We will leave that analysis to other people as an economic analysis of complex, customer unfriendly licensing is definitely out of the scope of this article.

Threading Tricks or Not? MySQL OLAP Testing
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  • Jaguar36 - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    I too would love to see more HPC related benchmarks. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) or Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) programs scale very well with increased core count, and are something that is highly CPU dependent. I've found it very difficult to find good performance information for CPUs under this load.

    I'd be happy to help out developing some benchmark problems if need be.
  • dcollins - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    These would indeed be interesting benchmarks to see. These workloads are very floating point heavy so I imagine that the new Opterons will perform poorly. 16 modules won't matter when they only have 8 FPUs. Of course, I am speculating here.

    Going forward, these types of workloads should be moving toward GPUs rather than CPUs, but I understand the burden of legacy software.
  • silverblue - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    They have 8 FPUs capable of 16x 128-bit or 8x 256-bit instructions per clock. On that level, it shouldn't be at a disadvantage.
  • bnolsen - Sunday, February 12, 2012 - link

    GPUs are pretty poor for general purpose HPC. If someone wants to fork out tons of $$$ to hack their problem onto a gpu (or they get lucky and somehow their problem fits a gpu well) that's fine but not really smart considering how short release cycles are, etc.

    I have access to a quad socket magny cours built mid last year. In december I put together a sandy-e 3930k portable demo system. Needless to say the 3930k had at least 10% more throughput on heavy processing tasks (enabling all intel sse dropped in another 15%). It also handily beat our dual xeon nehalem development system as well. With mixed IO and cpu heavy loads the advantage dropped but was still there.

    I'd love to be able to test these new amds just to see but its been much easier telling customers to stick with intel, especially with this new amd cpu.
  • MySchizoBuddy - Friday, March 9, 2012 - link

    "GPUs are pretty poor for general purpose HPC."
    tell that to the #2, #4 and #5 most powerful supercomputers in the world. I'm sure no one told them.
  • hooflung - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    I think I'd rather see some benchmarks based around Java EE6 and an appropriate container such as Jboss AS 7. I'd also like to see some Java 7 application benchmarks ( server oriented ).

    I'd also like to see some custom Java benchmarks using Akka library so we can see some Software transactional memory benchmarks. Possibly a node.js benchmark as well to see if these new technologies can scale.

    What I've seen here is that the enterprise circa 2006 has a love hate relationship with AMD. I'd also like to see some benchmarks of the Intel vs AMD vs SPARC T4 in both virtualized and non virtualized J2EE environments. But this article does have some really interesting data.
  • jibberegg - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the great and informative article! Minor typo for you...

    "Using a PDU for accurate power measurements might same pretty insane"
    should be
    "Using a PDU for accurate power measurements might seem pretty insane"
  • phoenix_rizzen - Thursday, February 9, 2012 - link

    MySQL has to be the absolute worst possible choice for testing multi-core CPUs (as evidenced in this review). It just doesn't scale beyond 4-8 cores, depending on CPU choice and MySQL version.

    A much better choice for "alternative SQL database" would be PostgreSQL. That at least scales to 32 cores (possibly more, but I've never seen a benchmark beyond 32). Not to mention it's a much better RDBMS than MySQL.

    MySQL really is only a toy. The fact that many large websites run on top of MySQL doesn't change that fact.
  • PixyMisa - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    This is a very good point. While it can be done, it's very fiddly to get MySQL to scale to many CPUs, much simpler to just shard the database and run multiple instances of MySQL. (And replication is single-threaded anyway, so if you manage to get one MySQL instance running with very high inserts/updates, you'll find replication can't keep up.)

    Same goes for MongoDB and, of course, Redis, which is single-threaded.

    We have ten large Opteron servers running CentOS 6, five 32-core and five 48-core, and all our applications are sharded and virtualised at a point where the individual nodes still have room to scale. Since our applications are too large to run un-sharded anyway, and the e7 Xeons cost an absolute fortune, the Opteron was the way to go.

    The only back-end software we've found that scales smoothly to large numbers of CPUs is written in Erlang - RabbitMQ, CouchDB, and Riak. We love RabbitMQ and use it everywhere; unfortunately, while CouchDB and Riak scale very nicely, they start out pretty darn slow.

    We actually ran a couple of 40-core e7 Xeon systems for a few months, and they had some pretty serious performance problems for certain workloads too - where the same workload worked fine on either a dual X5670 or a quad Opteron. Working out why things don't scale is often more work than just fixing them so that they do; sometimes the only practical thing to do is know what platform works for what workload, and use the right hardware for the task at hand.

    Having said all that, the MySQL results are still disappointing.
  • JohanAnandtech - Friday, February 10, 2012 - link

    "It just doesn't scale beyond 4-8 cores, depending on CPU choice and MySQL version."

    You missed something: it does scale beyond 12 Xeon cores, and I estimate that scaling won't be bad until you go beyond 24 cores. I don't see why the current implementation of MySQL should be called a toy.

    PostgreSQL: interesting several readers have told me this too. I hope it is true, because last time we test PostgreSQL was worse than the current MySQL.

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