Step-by-Step Guide

Step 10: Optimize CPU activity and speed

Number of CPUs

Most SQL Server operations take advantage of multiple processors, but you have to determine how much spillover goes to the second or subsequent processors. For most workloads, Task Manager will reveal that CPU activity occurs on the first processor with little on the second processor and even less on the third and fourth. If at all possible, study a representative workload to see how many processors you must have to satisfy needs. You can save on the per-processor licensing costs by using fewer processors, and then add them using the affinity switch as your workload increases.

CPU speed

In general, most complex SQL Server operations (i.e., joins, aggregate operations, etc.) are processor intensive, and performance will improve on higher CPU systems. Study the processor queue length to determine if CPU is a bottleneck. If the queue length will consistently be above 2, you should consider using additional or faster processors.

L2/L3 cache

L2/L3 cache is temporary processor storage used by the microprocessor. For processor-intensive workloads, select the largest L2/L3 cache available. Currently, the largest cache on Xeon processors is 1 MB. The new Itanium processors have an L1, L2 and L3 cache -- the largest L3 cache is 9 MB.

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Spec your SQL Server hardware needs

 Home: Introduction
 Step 1: Invest in good application design
 Step 2: Understand your workload
 Step 3: Know your memory support limitations
 Step 4: Choose a reliable hardware brand
 Step 5: Take advantage of 64-bit
 Step 6: Take advantage of storage area networks
 Step 7: Properly configure your RAID arrays
 Step 8: Use separate disk controllers
 Step 9: Choose and optimize your disks wisely
 Step 10: Optimize CPU activity and speed

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   
Hilary Cotter
Hilary Cotter has been involved in IT for more than 20 years as a Web and database consultant. Microsoft first awarded Cotter the Microsoft SQL Server MVP award in 2001. Cotter received his bachelor of applied science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto and studied economics at the University of Calgary and computer science at UC Berkeley. He is the author of a book on SQL Server transactional replication and is currently working on books on merge replication and Microsoft search technologies.
Copyright 2006 TechTarget

This was first published in January 2006

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