As a database performance engineer there are certain things that get me really excited. One of them is hardware. Not just any hardware, but the latest, greatest, bleeding edge stuff. It is especially exciting when the latest generation of CPUs are twice as fast as the previous generation, and those being no slouch. This is how Intel’s new Nehalem-EP Xeon 5500 series processors are shaping up.

The big launch was on March 30th so in the past few days all the benchmark reports and blog posts have been rolling in. Here are a few that I think are worth highlighting:

The SQL Server Performance Blog reports:

Pat Gelsinger did a side-by-side performance demo which launched an SSRS report, running reporting queries against a 1.5 TB SSAS OLAP cube, built using a Microsoft adCenter data set. The demo showed how Nehalem-EP is 2X faster than a Xeon 5400 on the same workload, with the same DRAM and I/O configuration. Not too shabby, but we’ve seen even faster results (~3-4X faster) on workloads which are more memory bandwidth-intensive, like data warehousing or in-memory OLAP workloads.

Intel’s Dave Hill over at the The Server Room Blog writes:

As of March 30, 2009, Intel based 2 socket Xeon® 5500 series servers set at least 30 world performance records across a wide range of benchmarks that cover virtually every application type on the market. The performance results, just by themselves, are utterly amazing, and in general they are greater than 2x the Intel® Xeon® 5400 series processors (Harpertown).

There are numerous other benchmarks listed over at the Intel® Xeon® Processor Performance summary page. Check them out. You should be nothing less than amazed. It surely is a great time to be using commodity hardware and if you are not, perhaps you should be! And for those database vendors who are using proprietary hardware like FPGAs, well, I guess you are wishing that Intel’s Nehalem-EP processors are an April Fools’ joke, but you would be wrong.