Sql Server CPU licensing, edition support, and multi-core technology

Q:  In addition to hyper-threading and dual-core technology, chip vendors are beginning to release processors with additional cores (4,8,etc.). I am currently considering purchasing a new server with multi-core processors to support a Sql Server 2005 Standard Edition deployment and am curious if, when using a 4-core processor, I will only be able to make use of a single physical CPU (since Standard Edition is limited to 4 CPUs)?  Additionally, what is the overall licensing policy in relation to multi-core technologies with Sql Server 2005?

A:  One key competitive licensing advantage of Sql Server is related to this exact question - for the purposes of both licensing and CPU edition support, Sql Server considers the number of physical sockets/CPUs, regardless of the number of cores on the processor. So, for example, if you are planning to deploy Sql Server 2005 Standard, which supports up to 4 CPUs, that means Standard Edition will support 4 physical CPU sockets, regardless of the number of cores in each CPU (if you have 4 physical CPUs with 4-cores each, your Standard Edition deployment would have 16 logical CPUs to make use of). Additionally, even though you have 16 cores/logical CPUs, the licensing of this requires that you pay for only the 4 physical CPUs, not all 16 cores (quite a deal huh?).

For more information on Sql Server and Multicore licensing, see the following article: http://www.microsoft.com/sql/howtobuy/multicore.mspx

Chad Boyd

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Comments (3)

  1. AndrewWinch says:

    Which is better for SQL Server, Dual core with a high GHz or Quad-core with a low GHz?

    Just wondering?

  2. Spruce Media says:

    Hi Andrew.  That’s a loaded question for sure :-)…the answer is that it always depends on the workload. Some workloads that include smaller #’s of users with VAS-heavy type loads may perform better on a smaller # of CPUs with higher clock speeds, wheras many other workloads will perform better with a larger # of processors (in particular I would think that any workload with higher #’s of concurrent requests would perform better in this type of system). Obviously, a single request from a single thread will always perform better with a higher clock speed (assuming all else is equal), however total system throughput relies on much more than this…

    I’d strongly recommend taking a baseline of your particular workload on each configuration to see which works best in your environment…

  3. David Mustin says:

    Does the above license model still hold true now we are seeing processors with 8, 10 or even 12 + cores ?

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