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When it comes right down to it, a database is only useful if you can use it to get access to the information you need, when you need it. That’s why performance is so important whether you are running on bare metal, in virtual machines or containers. Regardless of whether you’re running on-premises or in the public or private cloud. One of the key factors influencing performance is traditionally the choice of an underlying operating system. 

Red Hat and Microsoft have been collaborating for the last five years to deliver interoperable high-performance data solutions for enterprise customers. With Microsoft SQL Server 2019 on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8, we’ve been providing performance for the most mission-critical transactional systems and data warehouses, along with integrated business intelligence and advanced analytics solutions for building intelligent applications. 

The RHEL Performance Team posted on the blog last year about optimizing performance with Microsoft SQL Server 2019 on RHEL 8 where they discussed in detail many of the changes that have been made to RHEL to deliver improved SQL Server performance. Microsoft followed up this year by publishing new performance best practices and configuration guidelines for SQL Server on Linux with detailed instructions on how to optimize RHEL systems for SQL Server workloads that allow you to take advantage of the new RHEL capabilities.

Now we’re seeing the results of all of this collaborative effort in the form of top performance benchmark results being published by leading hardware vendors. A great example of this, one that demonstrates the advancements in SQL Server performance when running RHEL 8 with a simulated workload, is TPC Benchmark H (TPC-H) results. A decision support benchmark, TPC-H consists of a series of business information ad-hoc queries and concurrent data updates. The workload is designed to simulate decision support and data warehousing.

And the Winner is...

As of March 25th, 2021 the leading performance results for SQL Server TPC-H benchmarks1 are all on systems running RHEL 8. This includes tests across a range of standard database sizes including 1,000 GB, 3,000 GB, 10,000 GB, and 30,000 GB. In addition to raw performance numbers, the same is also true for the leading SQL Server TPC-H results in terms of price for performance1. Here is a summary for the leader in each category:

SQL Server 2019 on RHEL 8 running on  a Dell Technologies PowerEdge MX740c Server consisting of a 2-socket Intel Xeon Platinum 8268 2.9GHz processor configuration and 48 cores was able to deliver 824,693 TPC-H Composite Query-per-Hour performance at .46 USD per QphH when testing a 1,000 GB database.

SQL Server 2019 on RHEL 8 running on a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) ProLiant DL345 Gen10 Plus server consisting of a single socket AMD EPYC 7763 64-Core 2.45 Ghz Processor configuration and 64 cores was able to deliver 1,346,932 TPC-H Composite Query-per-Hour performance at .40 USD per QphH when testing a 3,000 GB database.

SQL Server 2019 on RHEL 8 running on an HPE ProLiant DL385 Gen10 Plus V2 server consisting of a 2-socket AMD EPYC 7763 2.45 Ghz processor configuration and 128 cores was able to deliver 1,883,497 TPC-H Composite Query-per-Hour performance at .56 USD per QphH when testing a 10,000 GB database.

SQL Server 2019 on RHEL 8.2 running on an HPE Superdome Flex 280 Server consisting of a 4-socket Intel Xeon-Platinum 8380 HL 2.9GHz processor configuration and 112 cores was able to deliver 1,446,701 TPC-H Composite Query-per-Hour performance at .75 USD per QphH when testing a 30,000 GB database.

Conclusion

These TPC-H results demonstrate that Microsoft SQL Server on RHEL is able to provide the performance organizations need to accelerate their business at a low cost. What’s more, it’s not just about the cost per transaction. Time is money, and when you can deliver information in less time, that can often translate to business process improvements that help organizations grow. 

Whether you are running SQL Server today or considering it in the future, RHEL 8 as a platform is clearly worth a look. To learn more about SQL Server on RHEL visit the Microsoft SQL Server on Red Hat Enterprise Linux resource center.

Additional References

  1. Quickstart: Install SQL Server and create a database on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

  2. Performance best practices and configuration guidelines for SQL Server on Linux 

  3. SQL Server on RHEL preconfigured images in Azure Marketplace

TPC is a trademark of the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC). For more information about the TPC and it's benchmarks see www.tpc.org.

1 All claims as of 3/25/2021 for non-clustered TPC-H publications.


About the authors

Louis Imershein is a Product Manager at Red Hat focussed on Microsoft SQL Server and database workloads. He is responsible for working with Microsoft and Red Hat engineering to ensure that SQL Server performance, management, and security is optimized for Red Hat platforms. For more than 30 years, Louis has worked in technical support, engineering, software architecture, and product management on a wide range of OS, management, security, and storage software projects.

Karl Abbott is a Senior Product Manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux focused on the kernel and performance. Abbott has been at Red Hat for more than 15 years, previously working with customers in the financial services industry as a Technical Account Manager.