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Best CPU(s) to use for commercial heavy duty database server

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August 13, 2006 6:58:20 AM

I am putting together a heavy duty database server that will serve to a group of ~20 web servers, each supporting hundreds of thousands of users a day and tons of SQL transactions. Fedora environment.

I'm looking to identify the absolute fastest and most durable CPU available in the marketplace. Our co. has a great budget for this so the primary concern is on finding the absolute best performance specs money can buy. We are being shown a number of options by one vendor (Rackable Systems), who is suggesting high end Xeon processor with woodbridge MB..however I don't know if these processors have heating issues at the higher speeds or are realistic to take such heavy abuse as this DB server will be getting on a 24/7 basis.

Because I haven't done this sort of thing in a number of years, I'm not up to date on the latest and greatest in the market and I'm hoping to save some research time through any input I can get here on the board. Thanks in advance for any replies!
August 13, 2006 7:44:01 AM

Quote:
I am putting together a heavy duty database server that will serve to a group of ~20 web servers, each supporting hundreds of thousands of users a day and tons of SQL transactions. Fedora environment.

I'm looking to identify the absolute fastest and most durable CPU available in the marketplace. Our co. has a great budget for this so the primary concern is on finding the absolute best performance specs money can buy. We are being shown a number of options by one vendor (Rackable Systems), who is suggesting high end Xeon processor with woodbridge MB..however I don't know if these processors have heating issues at the higher speeds or are realistic to take such heavy abuse as this DB server will be getting on a 24/7 basis.

Because I haven't done this sort of thing in a number of years, I'm not up to date on the latest and greatest in the market and I'm hoping to save some research time through any input I can get here on the board. Thanks in advance for any replies!


I take it that you have already ruled out HP, Sun, and IBM database server platforms?

Our HP N series platforms have no problems with millions of transactions / sec... And they aren't even top of the line. Note that I have also used database servers from both of the above platform makers mentioned, and have experienced similar results.
August 13, 2006 9:09:04 AM

Sounds like you want some extreme multi-threading capability, so assuming you haven't ruled out anything, i'd be forgetting about Xeons, at the least i'd be going for 4- or 8-way dual-core Opterons in a Tyan mobo (hey, SocketF will be out in a few days).

But if you want good, then it's gotta be an HP Itanium2 server (i don't know who else makes decent Itanium systems, but HP are allegedly the best), or a Sun UltraSparc T1, T2s might be out now or soon too.

I know you said Fedora, but have you considered SuSE Enterprise Server? works best on HP Itaniums, from what i've heard. I don't know what the UltraSparcs use, methinks they use some kind of SunOS Unix. But Fedora should be usable on either of them...
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August 13, 2006 10:20:42 AM

Quote:
Sounds like you want some extreme multi-threading capability, so assuming you haven't ruled out anything, i'd be forgetting about Xeons, at the least i'd be going for 4- or 8-way dual-core Opterons in a Tyan mobo (hey, SocketF will be out in a few days).

But if you want good, then it's gotta be an HP Itanium2 server (i don't know who else makes decent Itanium systems, but HP are allegedly the best), or a Sun UltraSparc T1, T2s might be out now or soon too.

I know you said Fedora, but have you considered SuSE Enterprise Server? works best on HP Itaniums, from what i've heard. I don't know what the UltraSparcs use, methinks they use some kind of SunOS Unix. But Fedora should be usable on either of them...


T2's have been out for quite a while, but I'd still go for a clustered HP N class with the afore-mentioned Itanium's. I'd not recommend the 2's, (no recent experience with them) but HP is pushing them strongly so they must be ready for prime time.
August 13, 2006 11:34:09 AM

I too strongly recommend Socket F, falling back to S940 if Socket F is not an option.

AMD64s have a substantial lead in SQL benchmarks.

Which version of Fedora do you plan to use?

And what kind of DB?

GL :-D
August 13, 2006 3:53:44 PM

Quote:
I am putting together a heavy duty database server that will serve to a group of ~20 web servers, each supporting hundreds of thousands of users a day and tons of SQL transactions. Fedora environment.

I'm looking to identify the absolute fastest and most durable CPU available in the marketplace. Our co. has a great budget for this so the primary concern is on finding the absolute best performance specs money can buy. We are being shown a number of options by one vendor (Rackable Systems), who is suggesting high end Xeon processor with woodbridge MB..however I don't know if these processors have heating issues at the higher speeds or are realistic to take such heavy abuse as this DB server will be getting on a 24/7 basis.

Because I haven't done this sort of thing in a number of years, I'm not up to date on the latest and greatest in the market and I'm hoping to save some research time through any input I can get here on the board. Thanks in advance for any replies!



That's strange because Rackable is mainly an AMD shop (90%). If you want the best DB server right now it's either Opteron 285(dual) or Opteron 885(quad). Tell them you want Opteron.
August 13, 2006 4:57:56 PM

Quote:
Sounds like you want some extreme multi-threading capability, so assuming you haven't ruled out anything, i'd be forgetting about Xeons, at the least i'd be going for 4- or 8-way dual-core Opterons in a Tyan mobo (hey, SocketF will be out in a few days).

But if you want good, then it's gotta be an HP Itanium2 server (i don't know who else makes decent Itanium systems, but HP are allegedly the best), or a Sun UltraSparc T1, T2s might be out now or soon too.

I know you said Fedora, but have you considered SuSE Enterprise Server? works best on HP Itaniums, from what i've heard. I don't know what the UltraSparcs use, methinks they use some kind of SunOS Unix. But Fedora should be usable on either of them...


Word.
August 13, 2006 5:40:07 PM

Sun makes AMD based servers as well as SPARC based servers.

Both are capable of running Linux, although the SPARCs sometimes run Solaris.

Solaris replaced SunOS 14 years ago!

The SPARCs are RISC based and while decent are slower than their AMD based counterparts.

HP, IBM and others also make AMD64 servers however I would not recommend them. I would recommend AMD64s using commodity hardware if possible.

Tyan, Supermicro and Iwill make good Opteron boards.

Itaniums are not considered a good option. They completely suck in 32bit x86 mode. In native IA64 mode they run ok but they do not perform very well compared to Opterons.
August 13, 2006 6:26:52 PM

OK, now you've got my interest piqued re: the HP Itanium2 server. Are these considered to be at the top of the high end DB server market?

If I could find a pre-existing solution and avoid the 1 month super slow lead time in buying from Rackable (that's how long they are telling us it will take to build the machine), I'd love to go HP, but only if that is the best money can buy, performance wise--for this SQL DB server app.

Also, FYI we have been using Postgres SQL under Fedora for this app.
August 13, 2006 6:46:47 PM

Quote:
Sun makes AMD based servers as well as SPARC based servers.

Both are capable of running Linux, although the SPARCs sometimes run Solaris.

Solaris replaced SunOS 14 years ago!

The SPARCs are RISC based and while decent are slower than their AMD based counterparts.

HP, IBM and others also make AMD64 servers however I would not recommend them. I would recommend AMD64s using commodity hardware if possible.

Tyan, Supermicro and Iwill make good Opteron boards.

Itaniums are not considered a good option. They completely suck in 32bit x86 mode. In native IA64 mode they run ok but they do not perform very well compared to Opterons.


Why does it matter if it sucks in x86-32? It's a heavy duty database build, which should only be running in 64bit. 51xx's are faster than current K8 based Opterons and the I2 will run circles around x86 offerings if running correct binaries.
August 13, 2006 7:10:36 PM

Quote:
Sounds like you want some extreme multi-threading capability, so assuming you haven't ruled out anything, i'd be forgetting about Xeons, at the least i'd be going for 4- or 8-way dual-core Opterons in a Tyan mobo (hey, SocketF will be out in a few days).

But if you want good, then it's gotta be an HP Itanium2 server (i don't know who else makes decent Itanium systems, but HP are allegedly the best), or a Sun UltraSparc T1, T2s might be out now or soon too.

I know you said Fedora, but have you considered SuSE Enterprise Server? works best on HP Itaniums, from what i've heard. I don't know what the UltraSparcs use, methinks they use some kind of SunOS Unix. But Fedora should be usable on either of them...


T2's have been out for quite a while, but I'd still go for a clustered HP N class with the afore-mentioned Itanium's. I'd not recommend the 2's, (no recent experience with them) but HP is pushing them strongly so they must be ready for prime time.

Or could it be the billions HP sank into Itanium? Theres a reason HP sells over 75% of Itanium absed products (mainly because other vendors dumped the product line...). The Opterons will outperform Xeons in a 4 or 8 way configuration. While Xeon processors (Woodcrest version) are superior at lower configurations they DO NOT scale well accordignt o benchmarks. Hence the reason Dell put Opterons into its 4-way boxes (but not one or two-way). Your two choices are between an HP Itanium2 setup or a Opteron setup. I would look into the pros and cons for yourself (perhaps discuss it with a vendor that offers both like HP, look for benchmarks). Do NOT make a purchase decision based solely on what you read here....
August 13, 2006 7:24:04 PM

Don't concentrate to much on CPU for an RDBMS: the most important thing is fast hard drives!
Anyway Opterons are a little faster in such applications, because EMT64 is not true 64bit processing and professional DBs (MySQL, Oracle, PostGres) always use 64bit numbers for indices calculations: benchmarks with Oracle and MySQL shows clearly that an old Opteron 240 is faster than a 5xxx Xeon. But it's a matter of very little difference, the main component in a DB is the hard drive and then... a lot of memory for big filesystem cache.

If you have a redundant and absolutely secure UPS then use XFS as a filesystem: it uses a very aggressive cache strategy, it's the fastest filesystem ever designed, but you must have a very good UPS because it can take hours to write dato onto disc in heavy load conditions.

Anyway if you plan to serve such a number of transactions per second don't focus too much on a single very fast machine: you'll be better with a cluster because hard drives would be your bottleneck, and RAID5 can't help you too much.
August 14, 2006 4:44:29 AM

Any suggestions for hardware vendors that specialize in building/selling super high performance, commercial grade database servers?
August 14, 2006 6:01:59 AM

Options:

0. http://penguincomputing.com/

1. http://www.sun.com/nc/2006-0711/index.jsp

2. http://www.linux.org/vendor/system/server.html

3. http://www-03.ibm.com/servers/eserver/opteron/

4. http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/ss/WF05a/15351-241...

5. my company builds custom fully optimized and tested systems for a small fee.


Again I strongly recommend Socket F or Socket 940 because they offer 2, 4, 8 times the memory and IO bandwidth as you scale up ( they scale linearly as you add CPUs ).

Memory and IO bandwidth is critical for high-end database applications.
August 14, 2006 6:38:46 AM

Personally, I'm quite happy with the DB servers I currently have. Perhaps you should re-post this to plat511?
August 14, 2006 1:17:12 PM

My heavy recommendation is go with the Xeon 5100 series, aka Woodcrest.

I've had a good amount of experience dealing with the new Intel chips, and they are absolute beasts in every sense.

The combination of the lower power and higher performance is great.

You could wait it out a while, and near the end of the year and into early next year, pick up dual socket quad core Xeon machine.

*very cool*
August 14, 2006 2:04:08 PM

I respectfully disagree.



I believe this diagram illustrates what I have been saying.

An 8way opteron has 8 times the memory and IO bandwidth over a single Opteron.


P4 Xeons have to share the FSB resulting in:

1/2 bandwidth in a 2way configuration

1/4 bandwidth in a 4way configuration

1/8 bandwidth in a 8way configuration


The woodcrest suffers from this as well although not quite as bad as the P4 Xeons.

AMD has a very significant advantage in 4way, 8way and up.

In 1 and 2 way systems the jury is still out as far as AMD64 vs Woodcrest is concerned.

AMD64 beats P4 Xeons across the board.
August 14, 2006 2:39:21 PM

Quote:
I respectfully disagree.



I believe this diagram illustrates what I have been saying.

An 8way opteron has 8 times the memory and IO bandwidth over a single Opteron.


P4 Xeons have to share the FSB resulting in:

1/2 bandwidth in a 2way configuration

1/4 bandwidth in a 4way configuration

1/8 bandwidth in a 8way configuration


The woodcrest suffers from this as well although not quite as bad as the P4 Xeons.

AMD has a very significant advantage in 4way, 8way and up.

In 1 and 2 way systems the jury is still out as far as AMD64 vs Woodcrest is concerned.

AMD64 beats P4 Xeons across the board.


Intel loses out to AMD in the 4-way space, that's for sure. But, the current 4-way offererings from Intel are still based on the NetBurst architecture, not the new Core Microarchitecture that the Core 2 and Wodocrest procs use. The 4-way based on the Core Microarchitecture will be released in the following months.

In the 2-way space, the Woodcrest boxes do beat the AMD boxes.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/06/26/xeon_woodcrest_p...
August 14, 2006 2:58:10 PM

Quote:
I respectfully disagree.



I believe this diagram illustrates what I have been saying.

An 8way opteron has 8 times the memory and IO bandwidth over a single Opteron.


P4 Xeons have to share the FSB resulting in:

1/2 bandwidth in a 2way configuration

1/4 bandwidth in a 4way configuration

1/8 bandwidth in a 8way configuration


The woodcrest suffers from this as well although not quite as bad as the P4 Xeons.

AMD has a very significant advantage in 4way, 8way and up.

In 1 and 2 way systems the jury is still out as far as AMD64 vs Woodcrest is concerned.

AMD64 beats P4 Xeons across the board.


Intel loses out to AMD in the 4-way space, that's for sure. But, the current 4-way offererings from Intel are still based on the NetBurst architecture, not the new Core Microarchitecture that the Core 2 and Wodocrest procs use. The 4-way based on the Core Microarchitecture will be released in the following months.

In the 2-way space, the Woodcrest boxes do beat the AMD boxes.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/06/26/xeon_woodcrest_p...



I am sorry that is not an article, that is a paid intel advertisement.

I have yet to see solid 64bit benchmarks on woodcrest vs. Opteron.

AMD's lead over P4 Xeons in SQL benchmarks was very substantial ( 25-40% perhaps more ) so woodcrest has a lot of overcome.

With woodcrest Intel addressed CPU performance but is still lacking in memory and IO bandwidth.

We shall see what happens when 65nm AMDs are released.

Memory and IO bandwidth is critical in DB applications.
August 14, 2006 3:52:11 PM

You have lots of good CPU options and it's up to you to decide which is best suited to your needs.

I've seen lots of good advice wrt AMD Opterons and the 8 core Tyan MBs
I've seen the Sun T1/T2 and HP's Itanium recommendations and find these to be reasonable suggestions as well.
I haven't seen anyone point you toward the IBM p520q series which is a screaming chip, good IO pathways and a fairly good cost factor.

Any or all of these chips will do the work your interested in but I wonder if your not focusing on the CPU too much.

Performance is determined by the slowest component and without exception all these CPUs will outperform the network and disk subsystems.

Look at the SQL that'll be executing and ask if your database will cache most of all of the data in RAM? How much RAM are we talking about? Your database is larger than a few GBs than that RAM will cost a mint, so your better off looking at and spending your money on a very fast disk solution.

Don't forget high throughput networking, backup solutions etc.

In the end, I'd be much more concerned with the operational aspects of the total solution and not worry so focused on a particular CPU.
August 14, 2006 5:16:31 PM

http://www.intel.com/performance/server/xeon/intthru.ht...

what kind of benchmarks are you looking for?

memory and IO bandwith have been addressed w/ woodcrest. FB-DIMM's provide a much greater bandwith, and the increase in cache (shared between the cores, unlike AMD) coupled with the intel smart memory access, calls to memory are greatly reduced.

just curious .. why do you keep trying to reference the previous generation of Xeon's? the new dual core Xeon's are doing great, and quad core is not far behind.

netburst is old new.
August 14, 2006 5:36:45 PM

Quote:
http://www.intel.com/performance/server/xeon/intthru.ht...

what kind of benchmarks are you looking for?

memory and IO bandwith have been addressed w/ woodcrest. FB-DIMM's provide a much greater bandwith, and the increase in cache (shared between the cores, unlike AMD) coupled with the intel smart memory access, calls to memory are greatly reduced.

just curious .. why do you keep trying to reference the previous generation of Xeon's? the new dual core Xeon's are doing great, and quad core is not far behind.

netburst is old new.




This link is laughable. I did not insult you with AMD marketing please do not insult us with Intel marketing.

Intel CPUs have always been FSB limited this is true for woodcrest as well.

Intel improved their cores however they did not address the FSB limitations which is made worse with multiple cores.
August 14, 2006 5:46:06 PM

Quote:
http://www.intel.com/performance/server/xeon/intthru.ht...

what kind of benchmarks are you looking for?

memory and IO bandwith have been addressed w/ woodcrest. FB-DIMM's provide a much greater bandwith, and the increase in cache (shared between the cores, unlike AMD) coupled with the intel smart memory access, calls to memory are greatly reduced.

just curious .. why do you keep trying to reference the previous generation of Xeon's? the new dual core Xeon's are doing great, and quad core is not far behind.

netburst is old new.


The major problem for Intel's server system is the shared FSB.
August 14, 2006 8:58:01 PM

To the original poster - I suggest you check out the database benchmarks at http://www.tpc.org for yourself.
August 14, 2006 11:28:57 PM

Quote:
Solaris replaced SunOS 14 years ago!

*cough* not at adelaide uni, until last year they were running SunRay blade clients in the CS dept, from servers with SunOS.

anyway, to draw the conversation away from 2-socket and even 4-socket opteron vs xeon, i don't think that either of these will cut it. it's an 8-way opteron at minimum, unless you want to cluster. (or even if you do)

correct me if i'm wrong, but a read/write database on a cluster is nowhere near as efficient as a simple read cluster? i don't think you've said whether it's a read-only (or at least >90% reads), or transactional, but in any event, for read-only, some sort of load-balancing cluster may be in order (in which case, you could go for dual socket xeons now, or maybe dual socketF opterons once the benchmarks come out tomorrow). But issuing constant writes to a load-balanced mirror cluster will choke most of your bandwidth, as it has to be sent to every machine.


Quote:
If you have a redundant and absolutely secure UPS then use XFS as a filesystem

I'll just add another vote for that being a really BIG IF. Be prepared to spend half your budget on a UPS if you want it to remain constantly on, a few auto-start generators might be useful too. Or just use Reiser. not as fast, but secure in a power cut. And i'll assume you'll want to invest in a nice Tape drive and backup regularly anyway (if you haven't already)...


And as some others said, max out your RAM, Gigabit minimum (10-G would be nice, at least as interconnect if you cluster), and get some sick-fast hard drives. Serial Attached SCSI would be a good start. as for RAID, it depends on how your servers are setup. if you're going for a single box with 8-way opterons, then RAID 5,6,5+0,5+1,6+0,6+1 would be options (if you get a controller capable).

But if you're going for a load-balanced cluster (with anything more than 10 nodes), then, because each system will have the exact same data mirrored, you can go for RAID 0. If one hdd dies, just disconnect the node, replace the disk, add it back into the cluster, and copy data back from another node, with minimum fuss.
August 14, 2006 11:40:59 PM

It depends on how many CPUs are you planning to use for your server.

For 1P and 2P servers, the newly released Intel Woodcrest Xeon have a very substantial lead over AMD's Opteron.

Here's a test Anandtech did benchmarking dual-processor (4 cores total) Woodcrest and Opteron (and Sun's 8-core T1). Using 64 bit Gentoo, they found Woodcrest Xeon to be 45% faster running MySQL and 28% faster running Postgresql:

http://anandtech.com/printarticle.aspx?i=2772



Another advantage of the Intel architecture is that it uses FB-DIMM RAM which has a much higher memory capacity (up to 192 GB RAM.) More memory means more concurrent users your server can support.

For 4P and up servers, Opteron is probably the way to go as Intel's FSB starts to become a bottleneck with such a large number of CPUs while AMD's hypertransport scales up much better.
August 14, 2006 11:47:30 PM

Quote:
Options:

0. http://penguincomputing.com/

1. http://www.sun.com/nc/2006-0711/index.jsp

2. http://www.linux.org/vendor/system/server.html

3. http://www-03.ibm.com/servers/eserver/opteron/

4. http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/ss/WF05a/15351-241...

5. my company builds custom fully optimized and tested systems for a small fee.


Again I strongly recommend Socket F or Socket 940 because they offer 2, 4, 8 times the memory and IO bandwidth as you scale up ( they scale linearly as you add CPUs ).

Memory and IO bandwidth is critical for high-end database applications.


I recommend a 9xxx I2 they will obliterate the K8 is 4 way, 8 way, and 16 way. They also scale perfectly as you add processors, additionally 9xxx support FDIMMS and are currently available unlike socket F based processors and motherboards.

One side point if you want a HPC configuration I would suggest nothing other than a Power 5 or a I2 period end of discussion, either processor will deliver unbelievable performance, with 99.99999999% guaranteed uptime, and a significantly more robust error correction system than any x86 offering period.

9xxx I2, and Power5 overview.
August 14, 2006 11:51:21 PM

Quote:
I respectfully disagree.



I believe this diagram illustrates what I have been saying.

An 8way opteron has 8 times the memory and IO bandwidth over a single Opteron.


P4 Xeons have to share the FSB resulting in:

1/2 bandwidth in a 2way configuration

1/4 bandwidth in a 4way configuration

1/8 bandwidth in a 8way configuration


The woodcrest suffers from this as well although not quite as bad as the P4 Xeons.

AMD has a very significant advantage in 4way, 8way and up.

In 1 and 2 way systems the jury is still out as far as AMD64 vs Woodcrest is concerned.

AMD64 beats P4 Xeons across the board.


Stop speculating and downplaying products that haven't hit the market yet. There is currently no support in the 5xxx Xeon's for 4way or 8way right now so, in hindsight you have no information to support the "very significant advantage" statement... yet.
August 14, 2006 11:54:24 PM

Quote:

P4 Xeons have to share the FSB resulting in:

1/2 bandwidth in a 2way configuration

1/4 bandwidth in a 4way configuration

1/8 bandwidth in a 8way configuration

This is false. All of the Xeon MP platforms use dual-FSBs for 4 socket systems. Memory bandwidth is also increased as you add additional 4 socket nodes for IBM's and Unisys's high-socket count Xeon MP systems.

Quote:

AMD has a very significant advantage in 4way, 8way and up.

IBM's 4S Xeon systems outbench HP's DL585 at 4S/8P in the influential TPC-C database benchmark and SAP-SD (and this is with just Paxville MP). It and the Unisys also scale better. They can be configured to support 32S, Opterons stop at 8S. With HyperTransport 2.0, at 8S cache coherency traffic and the distances between CPUs greatly impairs scalability.
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