Microsoft uses additional cores to work in the Azure SQL database • The Register

Microsoft is expanding its Azure SQL database services on the back of Intel’s “Ice Lake” Xeon and AMD’s “Milan” Epyc Server chipsets.

The company this week launched a public preview of its Standard series – formerly known as Gen 5 – provisioned databases and elastic pools, which can now scale up to 128 virtual cores and 625 GB of memory, a jump from the previous 80 virtual maximum cores and 415 GB of memory.

The expansion meets user demand for greater scalability of the service, says Scott Kim, principal product manager for Azure SQL Database.

“More cores improve workload throughput, and newer chipsets improve single-core performance,” Kim wrote in a blog post.

The 128 vCore compute size runs on Intel’s Xeon Platinum 8370C and AMD’s Epyc 7763v chipsets. With the new size, the databases and elastic pools deliver maximum input/output operations per second (IOPS) of 327,680 and 409,600, respectively. According to Microsoft, this is the highest of any Azure SQL compute size.

Elastic pools enable organizations to manage and scale multiple databases with unpredictable usage demands. All databases in a pool reside on a single server and share different resources, so SaaS developers can theoretically find the cheapest way to get the most performance.

At the same time, the number of concurrent workers for general and mission-critical databases and pools also increases to 12,800 (for the databases) and 13,440 (for the pools).

Organizations can create a new database and elastic pool, or scale an existing Azure SQL Database to 128 vCores.

Currently, the 128 vCore public preview is only supported in 10 regions, including four in the US, two in Europe, and one each in Canada, Australia, Japan, and the UK. Kim also wrote that zone redundancy for 128 vCore compute quantities will be supported early next year.

Additionally, the renaming of Gen 5 hardware to the Standard Series only applies to the Azure portal and related documentation. For developers using the REST API or an ARM template to create the SQL database, Microsoft says the existing scripts will continue to work.

Microsoft is also bringing more processors into the new Premium Series hardware for Azure SQL Hyperscale Databases, designed for compute- and data-intensive workloads. The configurations are in preview.

Like the 128 vCore standard version, the premium configurations – both the hyperscale and memory-optimized series, which is also in preview – are based on Intel’s Xeon 8370C and AMD’s Epyc 7763v chips, but offer “significantly improved Performance and scalability over the [current] Standard series hardware offerings…” Kim wrote in an accompanying blog post.

A key difference to the memory-optimized premium series is the 10.2 GB of memory per core – twice as much as the other premium hyperscale offerings – and 830 GB per instance, as well as the 40 percent higher price.

“Because of the extra storage and the lower price [the] The Premium Series memory-optimized option is a great alternative to the M-Series hardware in Azure SQL Database, which will be retired in September 2023,” Kim wrote.

Microsoft is also trying to make the switch to the Premium series hyperscale configuration more attractive by making the price per vCore similar to the Standard series, writing that “going to Premium makes perfect sense”.

A sample demo of a HammerDB benchmark with TCPP-like workloads showed that the premium-series hyperscale hardware offers about a 20 percent increase in performance at a similar price, he wrote.

Both Premium Series preview configurations are supported in three US regions and one each in Canada and the UK. As with the Standard Series public preview, zone redundancy will be introduced next year, as will the maintenance window for Azure SQL Database.

A sample demo of a HammerDB benchmark with TCPP-like workloads showed that the Premium series hardware offers about a 20 percent increase in performance at a similar price. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/12/01/microsoft_azure_database_chips/ Microsoft uses additional cores to work in the Azure SQL database • The Register

Rick Schindler

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