Frequently used knobs to tune a busy SQL Server


In calendar year 2014, the SQL Server escalation team had the opportunity to work on several interesting and challenging customers issues. One trend we noticed is that many customers were migrating from old versions of SQL Server running on lean hardware to newer versions of SQL Server with powerful hardware configurations. Typical examples would look like this: SQL 2005 + Win 2003 on 16 cores + 128 GB RAM migrated to SQL 2012 + Win 2012 on 64 cores + 1 TB RAM. The application workload or patterns remained pretty much the same. These servers normally handle workloads that is multiple thousand batches per sec. Under these circumstances, the normal expectation is that the throughput and performance will increase in line with the increase in the capabilities of the hardware and software. That is usually the case. But there are some scenarios where you need to take some additional precautions or perform some configuration changes. These changes were done for specific user scenarios and workload patterns that encountered a specific bottleneck or a scalability challenge.

 

As we worked through these issues, we started to capture the common configuration changes or updates that were required on these newer hardware machines. The difference in throughput and performance is very noticeable on these systems when these configuration changes were implemented. The changes include the following:

– SQL Server product updates [Cumulative Updates for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014]

– Trace flags to enable certain scalability updates

– Configuration options in SQL Server related to scalability and concurrency

– Configuration options in Windows related to scalability and concurrency

 

All these recommendations are now available in the knowledge base article 2964518:

Recommended updates and configuration options for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014 used with high-performance workloads

As we continue to find new updates or tuning options that are used widely we will add them to this article. Note that these recommendations are primarily applicable for SQL Server 2012 and SQL Server 2014. Few of these options are available in previous versions and you can utilize them when applicable.

If you are bringing new servers online or migrating existing workloads to upgraded hardware and software, please consider all these updates and configuration options. They can save a lot of troubleshooting time and provide you with a smooth transition to powerful and faster systems. Our team is using this as a checklist while troubleshooting to make sure that SQL Servers running on newer hardware is using the appropriate and recommended configuration.

Several members of my team and the SQL Server product group contributed to various efforts related to these recommendations and product updates. We also worked with members of our SQL Server MVP group [thank you Aaron Bertrand and Glenn Berry] to ensure these recommendations are widely applicable and acceptable for performance tuning.

We hope that you will implement these updates and configuration changes in your SQL Server environment and realize good performance and scalability gains.

 

Suresh B. Kandoth

SQL Server Escalation Team

Microsoft SQL Server


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