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With some of the new 10-core Xeon E7 ,which can work on 20 simultaneous computational threads along with quad-socket motherboards it is possible to specify servers with 80 computational threads and 1 TB of memory. Though it is certainly possible to utilize all of these resources, does anyone know when the laws of diminishing returns start to kick in?

From a Windows Server 2008 R2 perspective, how does the OS handle all of these resources?

Is there a fairly well known maximum that should be considered?

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There's no answer to this question. I bet someone asked the same thing when the first quad-core with HT processors hit the market (a few years ago now), where you could easily total 32 threads in a single chassis (note, that that's still only 16 cores).

Now, I wouldn't spec a system with less than 12 cores in total (which with Intel gives 24 threads), but I can achieve that in just dual socket.

I still remember when I specced up a Dual Athlon MP as a workstation back in 2002. All my friends and collegues thought I was insane, and they were very jelous that my Windows XP task manager showed OMFG TWO theads and a full gigabyte of RAM. In a WORKSTATION. My laptop just 9 years later has 8 threads, 8Gb of RAM, 750Gb of HDD and a TV tuner.

If you're buying with a 5-year plan, in 5 years time that 80-thread (which is still "only" 40 cores) and your 1Tb of RAM may very well be closing in as the "norm" for a virtualisation or database server.

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In addition the question is too open because different applications have different requirements. OLTP (analysis) over hundeds of gigabytes of data may warrant that much RAM, and threads to handle multiple suers at the same time. Some calculations need the processing, but not the memory. This is totally dependant with tons of edge cases around. –  TomTom Dec 6 '11 at 8:44

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