Intel Hyperthreading Does Little for Oracle Workloads. Who Cares? I Want My Xeon 5500 CPU with Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT)!

Two years ago I was working on a series of blog threads about Oracle on AMD Opteron processors. I made it perfectly clear at that time that I was a total fanboi of AMD dating back to my first experience with Opterons in the HyperTransport 1.0 timeframe. I had a wide variety of hardware in those days. That was then, this is now.

I’ve not yet had personal experience with the Xeon 5500 (Nehalem-EP) processors,  but I’m chomping at the bits to do so. I blogged about Nehalem with CSI interconnect technology nearly two years ago. I am a patient man.

I’m very exited about these processors as they represent the most significant technology leap in Intel processors since the jump from Pentium to Pentium Pro (the first Intel MCM cpu). But, all that aside, what does it mean for real workloads? From the things I heard first hand from engineers of HP’s ISS team it looks like this processor offers contentious workloads like Oracle a doubling of throughput on a core-for-core basis. After I heard that I started digging for independent measurements that back that up.

Although this Nehalem SAP Sales and Distribution Benchmark result was performed with Microsoft SQL Server, I know enough about the SDU test to know that it is a very contentious workload that is difficult to scale. I can’t say the boost will map one for one to Oracle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. I like this result because it is nearly apples-to-apples and showing a 100% performance increase over Xeon 5400 “Harpertown.”  And, Harpertown CPUs are no slouches.

Systems based on Xeon 5500 processors are going to mow through Oracle workloads very nicely! As for packaging, I believe most servers are going to come in 2s8c and 4s16c configurations at first.

The other thing I like about these CPUs is the emergence of functional multithreading. Since these are NUMA systems it will be important to have processors that can get useful work done while a thread is stalled on remote memory. Not to be confused with Hyperthreading (Netburst), which didn’t do much if anything for Oracle workloads, the Nehalem (S)imultaneous (M)ulti-(T)hreading feature has proven helpful in a wide variety of workloads as this comprehensive paper shows.


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I work for Amazon Web Services. The opinions I share in this blog are my own. I'm *not* communicating as a spokesperson for Amazon. In other words, I work at Amazon, but this is my own opinion.

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