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I am trying to work out which is more suitable for an SQL Server 2008 installation:

Two six core X7460 clocked at 2.66Ghz
or
Two Quad core X5570 clocked at 2.93Ghz.

Ideally, I'd like to know which is faster overall - bearing in mind that the X5570 is Nehalem/Gainestown and the X7460 is Dunnington.

Any advice would be appreciated!

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I just recently went through the same eval process myself. I found this thread, which kicked me firmly into the Nehalem camp:

communities.vmware.com/thread/202280 (can't post a hyperlink because I'm a new user)

Essentially, the results indicate that for memory-intesive applications, 8 Nehalem cores will typically outperform up to 16 of the previous generation Xeons, or Opterons for that matter.

Poke around on anandtech.com and you'll find similar benchmarks.

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  • Clock-speed is still king, even if there are more cores at a lower clock-speed. I agree with adamico, go with the Nehalem procs.
    – JFV
    May 19 '09 at 15:40
  • Thanks for the input - the VMWare thread was useful! I am confident that the efficiency of the Nehalem will more than make up for the lack of cores.
    – PCurd
    May 19 '09 at 18:23
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The answer, like so many "what is the best setup?" questions, depends on your specific workload.

Some numbers:

  • 2 x X7460@2.66 = 31.92GHz
  • 2 x X5570@2.93 = 23.44GHz

Obviously, the hexcores are faster overall. However:

  • Is your workload parallelizable? Maybe fewer, faster cores makes sense.
  • Is your workload CPU-bound? Is it disk-bound? Memory-bound?

If you have a parallel, CPU-bound workload that accesses a smaller set of memory, I think the X7460s may be better.

However, you may find that the new Nehalem architecture gives you better performance on your particular workload (faster RAM & IO).

There is no right answer - it depends.

All other things being equal, I would recommend going with the Nehalem, as you can always upgrade to the hex-cores when Intel decides to release them :)

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You are best off with the Nehalem processors they are nearly 2 times as fast as the previous generation of intel processors. I would certainly suggest the nehalem over the older generation of processor.

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