Importance of Number of Cores in choosing CPU

I am trying to set up a new VMWare box with SuperMicro SM X10DRL-I Motherboard 128GB RAM,  four Samsung 850 PRO - 2TB SSD HDs on Raid 10  off On-board LSI 3108 MegaRAID.

This VMWare box will host several VMs: (1) SBS2011, (2) Windows 2012 Web Server running several websites (mostly non-transaction intensive) supported by Cold Fusion software, and (3) some misc 2008 servers and Windows 10 virtual workstations for various tasks for about 20 users on the network. Standard office app is  Office 2013 Word/Excel/Access.

Quite honestly I am not sure what kind of CPU I should get and how many. CPU price varies depending on # of cores and Ghz: 6 core Intel Xeon E5-2603 V2 1.6Ghz 15MB Cache for $250, 8 core Intel Xeon E5-2630 V3 2.4Ghz 20MB Cache for $800, 10 core Intel Xeon E5-2650 V3 2.3Ghz 25MB Cache for $1,350, 12 core Intel Xeon E5-2670 V3 2.3Ghz 30MB Cache for $1,800.

Question:
Do I need two 6 core Intel Xeon E5-2603 V2 1.6Ghz 15MB Cache CPUs or just get 1 fast CPU like  12 core Intel Xeon E5-2670 V3 2.3Ghz 30MB Cache?
Since I am getting so much RAM and high speed SSDs, I wonder how important it is to get fast CPUs.
Based on my experience, the speed of HD (like SAS HDs) and amount of RAM allocated for each VM seems to have made the difference.
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sgleeAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
It's better to get two processors, so Dual Processor Xeons, and as many Cores as you can afford.

So/ I would opt for 2 x 12 core Intel Xeon E5-2670 V3 2.3Ghz 30MB Cache

Is this for Production or Lab ?

Why are you building a server which is not on the Hardware Compatibility List, and therefore will not be certified to run ESXi ?

Also many which have tried to RAID SSDs and build servers for VMware ESXi, have been surprised at how poor the performance has been....due to RAIDing SSDs.

So be warned.

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sgleeAuthor Commented:
"Is this for Production or Lab ?" - Production.
"Why are you building a server which is not on the Hardware Compatibility List" --> What specific part(s) are you referring to? MB, HD, or Raid Controller?
"many which have tried to RAID SSDs and build servers for VMware ESXi, have been surprised" - Every review that I see on Amazon or other sites are overwhelmingly positive. If you think it is a bad idea, can you give me some specific links so that I can read upon?
Also do you have personal experience regarding these SSD HDs? This new SAMSUNG 2TB SSD received great reviews and I spoke to SamSung Rep who told me that this particular model will be great for VMware and VMs that I intend to build.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Your entire "thing" you are building is not certified for VMware vSphere (ESXi), so therefore it's big risk, if you ever need support from VMware Support, because it's not a qualified server.

Think very seriously about building and rolling your own, and purchasing a ready made, Dell, HP, IBM or Fujitsu qualified and certified server.

Is this for your company or a client ?

I would search the EE forums, and you will see Experts have asked the same question, I've just purchased 4,6,8 SSDs connected to to my server, create a VMFS datasore, and the performance sucks, I might as well have saved money and purchased disks. Seen it many times, so do not assume, just purchase SSDs, RAID them, and I'll have a superfast datastore.

Did you ask the Samsung Rep, how they will be configured for VMware, and VMware what?

Yes, lots of experience..... used as a JBOD, single disk.... but I assume you want redundancy....

we use the in VMware vSphere vSAN.
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sgleeAuthor Commented:
"Your entire "thing" you are building is not certified for VMware vSphere (ESXi),"  --> I picked this  Supermicro model from my hardware vendor website and according to them, it is VMware certified. Otherwise they would be selling them. I have purchased servers from the same builder and had no problem whatsoever. I personally never needed to call VMware tech support. I purchase VMware Essentials product for small business environment with less than 20 users.

"so do not assume, just purchase SSDs, RAID them, and I'll have a superfast datastore."--> It is so strange that I see so many reviews about how fast SSDs are, but when put on RAID, it slows down?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Your decision, and your risk, but a handful of parts does not equal a certified qualified server on the HCL.

"so do not assume, just purchase SSDs, RAID them, and I'll have a superfast datastore."--> It is so strange that I see so many reviews about how fast SSDs are, but when put on RAID, it slows down?

correct, are these reviews you are reading are specific to the use of these SSDs, in VMware vSphere (e.g. ESXi 6.0) as a VMFS datastore, for use of hosting VMs ?

and performance compared to what?

SSDs are fast compared to standard HDDs, when used singley, but they perform and behave differently, when use RAID them, and you will require specialist controllers to get the most performance from them.

It's advice, do not assume, just because you RAID HDDs, and get good performance, the same applies to RAIDing HDDs.

I'll try and get you an EE Expert Question and Answer, and you can read a qualified Question and Answer.

So I would recommend, you try out different combinations of RAID, and Read and Write Caching, to get the best performance.

Do you require super fast performance and IOPS for these servers ?

You may want to think about the performance required between the sets of VMs, e.g. Servers versus Desktops, the Windows 10 VMs will require more IOPS than the servers.

Are the Windows 10 VMs, just going to be access via Remote Desktop Connection of VMware Horizon View and PCoIP for Good End User experience, any use of vGPU, e.g. nVidia GRID cards to optimum experience.

Windows Desktops suck performance out of disks.....SanDisk Fusion-IO cards maybe better for Windows 10 VMs, we use these, and standard HDDs for Servers.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
"are these reviews you are reading are specific to the use of these SSDs, in VMware vSphere (e.g. ESXi 6.0) as a VMFS datastore, for use of hosting VMs ?' --> No, the reviews that I read on Amazon.com and others were not in the same environment. Besides this Samsung 2TB SSD came out 2 months ago and of course ESXi 6 came out recently. Therefore it is almost impossible to get any reviews based on these two combination.
I traditionally get  6Gb15K 600GB SAS HDs and very happy with them. But as I build a new server, I was looking for newest and greatest.
I also looked into 12Gb 15K 600GB (or bigger) SAS, but they are fairly pricey too. Again not many renews on these either because they came out recently.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
ESXi 3,4,5 etc does not matter about the version....People are reviewing them in desktop environments. Not server or hypervisor.

15K 6 and 12GB SAS disks are great...work well, good power horses, but again, wasted if you do not need the performance.

It's like building a Grand Prix Formula 1 car, and using it to go to the shops, along a rural road, behind a tractor, at 20mph!

and this is just a single server, no resilience?
sgleeAuthor Commented:
"this is just a single server, no resilience" --> Are you referring to "Fault Tolerance"?
What I am going to do is actually set up a server with two SSD HDs and create some VMs so that I can compare the performance.
I have Test Server (HP Proliant G6 Server with 16GB RAM and LSI MegaRAID 9260-4i controller, one 4TB Enterprise SATA HD) running VMware ESX 5.5 with several VMs (Win7, Win10, W2012 .. they are all Test VMs). I am going to measure the boot time speed on various VMs.
I purchased two Crucial BX100 500GB SSD HDs for testing. I am going to connect them to LSI MegaRAID 9260-4i controller, set up VMware/ESXi V6 and compare the performance.
I will report the results by this weekend.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
No, you just have a single ESXi host, if it fails, all your VMs are dead and off.

Again, unless you need the performance, a waste of money, so VMs boot quicker....that is obvious, because SSDs have zero latency, and higher IOPS.

so what, how often are you shutting down and starting VMs....

What you need to do is simulate a VM workload......or use IOMeter, to generate load....
andyalderSaggar maker's framemakerCommented:
24 cores for an environment that has less than 20 users? Sounds a bit like overkill to me.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
@andyalder
The discussion took a wrong turn and we started discussing HCL and hard drive types.
The real question was if I should go with single higher speed CPU with less number of cores or lower speed of CPU with more cores for my environment with about 20 users.

@Andrew
Anyway, since I mentioned that I would post the result of "BOOT TIME" testing, here are some results:
I installed ESXi 5.5 HP ProLiant G6 with 16GB RAM and two Micron 500GB SSDs on RAID 1 on LSI 9240 SAS/SATA 6Gbps MEGARaid controller.
(1) ESXi 5.5 :                                           1 min 41 sec    vs    1 min 32 sec   (SSD  vs SATA 7200 rpm)
(2) Fresh install of WIndows 10:         19 sec               vs    17 sec
(3) Fresh install of Windows 2012:     19 sec               vs    29 sec
(4) Fresh install of SBS2011:                3 min 17 sec    vs   2 min 24 sec

Overall SSD ran much faster as you said "VMs boot quicker....that is obvious, because SSDs have zero latency".
You also said "so what, how often are you shutting down and starting VMs...." and you are right. I am not going to restart these VMs every day or every several hours. I will restart VMs when only necessary, so the gain in time is a mute point in this particular environment.

If I use SSDs anyway, maybe I can see 20-30% faster response in every thing (based on the results above) whether users open Word/Excel/Outlook/MS Access files and databases, but the difference may be marginal or unnoticeable by most users anyway.
If it takes 1-5 seconds to open a Word/Excel documents, 30% increase in response time would results in 0.3 to 1.5 seconds which is, again, unnoticeable on 20 user network.

So as you said, SSDs may well be a waste of money at this point.

Now I will have to decide if I want to go with 6Gbps or new 12Gbps 15K 600GB SAS HDs.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Installing ESXi on SSD is a definate waste of money, you would better off installing on USB flash drive or SD card, and isolated the ESXi OS and datastores. Again, the SSD are only used during boot time, e.g. the ESXi OS is read into memory.

To be honest your timings are negligible, I've seen much quicker, using PCI-E Flash Devices, e.g. SanDisk Fusion IO.

If you have the money, and want something really special look at SanDisk Fusion IO cards!
Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions ConsultingCommented:
Consider esxi licensing as well when choosing. A common setup is 2x 8 core xeons in a box to fit in with essentials plus limitations.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
I went with 2 CPUs, 8 cores.
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