Changing Hardware

I’ve been an Intel user for most of my life. While I have owned Mac machines, and I did once have an AMD desktop for the kids, I have pretty much stuck with Intel as my CPU of choice. Certainly I’ve had other processors in mobile devices, but for work, I have almost always purchased servers, desktops, or laptops with Intel CPUs.

I remember the time in the 80s and 90s when there were lawsuits, advertisements, and innuendo put out by the companies, as well as fans of either side. I knew people that were sure Intel was the only way to go, fervently claiming that I’d have all sorts of issues trying to run my software on anything other than an Intel CPU. Just as insistent where others that assured me AMD worked fine and Intel was an overpriced waste of money.

Over the years, I’ve seen Glenn Berry note that SQL Server runs better on Intel, because of the superior single-threaded performance on Intel machines. He’s changed his mind recently, and talks about why in a post this week. Glenn does advocate moving to new hardware, which often can give you better performance over older hardware at a lower consumption. If you are stuck on an older 2008/2012/2014 system, perhaps a hardware refresh is worth considering.

Would any of you consider moving to AMD CPUs for your SQL Server instances? Is a hardware refresh something you might consider instead of upgrading software versions? If you got a 30-40% performance increase from a modern processor over a 2012/2013 era one, would that be worth the cost of changing hardware?

We know that changing hardware isn’t as simple or easy as replacing one part with another. Likely you’d have a fair amount of labor to change out a bit of server hardware, even if you didn’t have to change any of your storage. With the growth and advantages of the cloud, is this something to even consider these days?

I don’t know, though I tend to think that for most organizations, it’s not worth the time and hassle to update hardware without updating software. Perhaps you feel differently, and if so, tell us why.

Some of you might be like me, not even really thinking about what hardware choices are out there. You let someone else worry about the physical machines and you just ask for a certain level of RAM, a number of cores, and a certain amount of storage performance. That’s how I’ve built SQL Servers in the past, which is really what I do now in the cloud.

Steve Jones

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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