Server Performance – The Database Conundrum

Managing data is like herding cats.  There’s so much of it flying around your enterprise that it’s really hard to get your arms around it.  With growth in “everything internet-connected” it’s only going to get worse.  But it’s your job to control it, secure it, and manage it and databases can help.

One big challenge with every database project is – How do I keep up with unpredictable growth and control costs at the same time?

Well I’m here to tell you that the answer lies in one simple word – PERFORMANCE.  It’s kind of obvious that deploying higher performing servers gives you the headroom to handle database growth:  More horsepower = More transactions per minute = Higher productivity and faster response times.  With higher performing servers you can put in place more headroom with fewer servers to handle peak demands.

But you can’t have your cake and eat it too, can you?  Well I’m here to tell you that in this case the answer is – yes.  This one is a little less obvious.  You usually have to pay for that performance in the form of higher-priced servers.  But if you look at total cost of ownership (TCO) you will find that higher performing servers reduce TCO.  Because you can get by with fewer servers, you get additional savings in rack space, power, cooling and software licensing costs.  Whether you are replacing your aging servers or comparing alternatives, in many cases you will find that higher performing database servers reduce the complexity in your data center and save you money.

Let’s take a look at some of the highest performing database servers in the industry.  In case you haven’t heard, Intel introduced two new server processors just four months ago and OEMs are setting new bars with industry standard database benchmarks.

First, The Big Kahuna – Intel® Xeon® processor 7500 series – is designed for expandable servers that support 2, 4, or even 8 or more processors with loads of memory (up to 1 Terabyte in a 4-socket server!).  This platform delivered the biggest server performance leap in Intel’s history with ~3X the performance vs. the previous generation.  That level of capability and performance was unheard of in any previous X86 server, and is perfect for large mission critical databases.  These workloads demand lots of efficient processing threads, maximum cache and memory capacity, as well as reliability features for data integrity and 24x7 operation.

Fujitsu recently published a 4-socket Database benchmark result using TPC* Benchmark* E which simulates online database transactions in a brokerage firm.  Their new PRIMERGY RX600 S5 rack server using the Xeon® 7500 set a new bar with 2,046 Transactions per second (TpsE) @ 193.68 $/TpsE (4P/32C/64T), 36% better $/TpsE than the next best X86 4-socket result.  Imagine the TCO you can save with this baby!

The other processor launched – Intel® Xeon® processor 5600 – is targeted at energy efficient 2-socket servers.  This processor was a refresh to the Nehalem architecture servers introduced in 2009 based on the Xeon® 5500 (pdf).  With the Xeon® 5600 you can optimize for server performance and energy efficiency in your mid-sized database deployments.  They can increase performance by up to 36%1 at the same power level, or reduce power by up to 30%2 at the same performance level compared to Xeon® 5500 based servers.  The Xeon® 5600 also includes new security features designed to speed up database encryption, which is great for e-commerce transactions.

Hewlett Packard posted multiple record-setting 2-socket database performance results using the Xeon® 5600 with their new ProLiant DL380 G7 rack server.  The TPC Benchmark* C simulates order-entry transactions at a wholesale supplier managing stock from multiple warehouses. HP’s result of 803,068 Transactions per minute (TpmC) @ 0.68 $/TpmC (2P/12C/24T) delivered 14% better performance than the next best X86 2-socket result.  They also set a new 2-socket TPC Benchmark* E record with 1,110 TpsE @ 294 $/TpsE (2P/12C/24T).

Where do you go from here?

Systems based on these new processors are available today from the server vendor of your choice.  They’re the perfect solution for your next database challenge delivering more headroom, greater efficiency, and lower TCO.  For server refresh they offer a quick Return on Investment.  Check it out using the Refresh Savings Estimator Tool.

Let me know if you agree, and stay tuned to the server room for more on performance, efficiency and lower TCO.

1 Comparing HP’s new TPC-E result of 1,110 TpsE @$294/TpsE (2P/12C/24T) to IBM’s TPC-E result using Xeon X5570 of 817 TpsE @ $319.15/TpsE (2P/8C/16T).

2 Source: Fujitsu Performance measurements comparing Xeon L5650 vs. X5570 SKUs using SPECint_rate_base2006,,