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SQL 2005 VM on ESXi 4 will not use more CPU resources from host.

Posted on 2012-03-27
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Last Modified: 2012-10-09
We have SQL 2005 running on Windows Server 2003 as a VM on an ESXi 4 host.  The host started off with single socket 4 core CPU.  Due to high CPU utilization, we added a second socket 4 core CPU.  The VM is running by itself on the host.  What is happening is, when you look at the CPU usage in windows its stilll high averaging 80%-90%.  If you look at the performance tab of the VM in ESXi its also reporting 80% plus.  However if you look at the performance tab of the host itself without any other VMs assigned, it only reports about 35% usage.  The VM is set to 4 vCPU and the host itself has 2 socket of 4 core totaling 8.  Any ideas?
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Question by:autocrib
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Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE) earned 250 total points
ID: 37772786
whats the issue?

poor SQL performance, slow queries?

was performance poor with 1 vCPU?

adding many vCPU can have a detrimental effect?

if you have single VM only, why not just install on Bare Metal, with hypervisor?
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Expert Comment

by:coolsport00
ID: 37772842
The issue could be memory, not CPU; Since you're using 2K3, & if you're using 32bit, you only have a 4GB limit. That could be the problem... (but, also depending upon license Edition - Ent, DC, etc)

~coolsport00
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Author Comment

by:autocrib
ID: 37772872
Of course when it peaks at 100% we have sql requet timeouts, the server was converted with the existing 4 cpu so we left it at 4 vCPU.  This has been running fine at this setting for years.  We of course have grown and added load to the SQL server.  Is it a good idea to set it back to only one vCPU at this point? We converted to a virtual enviroment to take advantage of seamless hardware upgrades and management so no way we are going back to bare metal.
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Author Comment

by:autocrib
ID: 37772902
No we can rule out RAM or disk usage ever since we upgraded to 32GB and 64bit editions of both 2003 and sql 2005, disk usage have dropped to barely anything and we have ample RAM available.  The only thing that have steadily climb over the years have been CPU usage.  I believe this is more of a ESXi issue then windows or SQL.  Any ESXi experts out there?
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LVL 117
ID: 37772913
Yes move the SQL database off the ESXi server, and it will solve your issue.
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LVL 40

Assisted Solution

by:coolsport00
coolsport00 earned 250 total points
ID: 37772924
It could be the host. Sometimes DBs don't play nice with vSphere. Same goes with Terminal Services. Can they run on vSphere? Sure. Is it supported. Absolutely. But, is it the best for resource? No, not necessarily...
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LVL 117
ID: 37772968
We have been working with clients and moving, via Virtual to Physical conversions at moving SQL servers from virtual to physical servers, because the Hypervisor sucks to much resources from the SQL server on bare metal.

So if the performance of your database as a virtual machine does not meet your requirements I would suggest the same course of action.

As an example we used a HP DL360 G5, Dual Processor Quad Core 3.0GHz, 32GB RAM, single virtual machine with 8GB RAM, 2 vCPU.

Querys took 13 minutes to respond, flatlined the VM at 100%, and also the Host.

Same configuration without the hypervisor, queries were instant, no CPU issues.

It was permamently migrated back to a physical VM. Adding additional resources, cpu, memory, did notbhelp.
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LVL 117
ID: 37773024
Video of the Performance we experienced on troublesome SQL VM

Video - Poor Microsoft SQL Performance caused by Virtualisation - Not all servers are equal!
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Accepted Solution

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autocrib earned 0 total points
ID: 38464430
Upgrading to ESXi 5 enabled the option for the VM to user 8vcpu.  It now allows for the single VM to fully utilize both socket and all 8 cores.  Usage on the host went from 100% down to 60% usage.  Thanks for you input but it was a ESXi issue and we are running fine with MS SQL 2005 now.
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Author Closing Comment

by:autocrib
ID: 38476670
The issue was with ESXi 4 and the particular hardware compatibility.  The experts comments was on the course of getting away from virtualization which was not an option for us.
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