Minimum requirement for a Server CPU

Gas
Gas used Ask the Experts™
on
What is the minimum requirement for a server CPU  in terms of cores and Hertz.
I speak about a windows 2016 server which it will work only as file server without any virtualization

I think a 10 cores cpu at 2GHz it will be ok. Isn't it?
If not what are the minimum requirement?

In another case for a server with 2 VM what are the minimum requirement for the CPU?
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
I would say yes to the question as you ask it (File Server role).  No issues I can see.

Further, almost any commercial name brand server will have adequate CPU to run DC/AD/File Server without issue.

You may need to add memory depending on your use.
John TsioumprisSoftware & Systems Engineer

Commented:
Well the bitter truth is that :the best your money can buy...just check your budget and make the best configuration in terms of CPU/RAM/HDD
File server is a rather easy workload so even a pretty basic (of course i am talking about simple file sharing...if you need something more then each feature requires more power)..server  can do the job rather nicely.
If its for light/moderate usage maybe you could take a look at refurbished market ....you could buy a pretty decent server for a slice of the money you would spend for a new one....e.g. starting from  $150+ (depends on the country/shipping costs) (minus the drives) you could get a dual cpu/16gb/dual psus/dual nic machine..
Gas

Author

Commented:
(I am worry about the 2Gzh is it ok?)

For a server with 2 VM or 3 VM what is the requirement in term of CPU?
Expert Spotlight: Joe Anderson (DatabaseMX)

We’ve posted a new Expert Spotlight!  Joe Anderson (DatabaseMX) has been on Experts Exchange since 2006. Learn more about this database architect, guitar aficionado, and Microsoft MVP.

MaheshArchitect
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
normal server minimum memory requirement is I believe 512 MB and X64 bit CPU with single core along with 32 GB HDD space for system drive

For virtualized host you need to check what is your guest configuration is required, physical server should have enough RAM and HDD space to accommodate virtual hardware

With 10 cores you can assign up to 80 (10 * 8) Cores CPU for multiple VMs, this is fact with 2008 R2, may be this has changed and you may be allowed to use entire 80 or less

Not all 80 cores can be assigned to one VM, VM can be allowed to create vcpus equal to logical cores of physical CPU
MaheshArchitect
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
2 GHZ would be sufficient for server acting as DC \ DNS \ DHCP and file server and even other roles except CPU intensive application servers

Still 10 Cores CPU is pretty much powerful as compared to dual core  / quad core 2 GHZ CPU
John TsioumprisSoftware & Systems Engineer

Commented:
Ghz is not the factor to judge a processor...better to take a look at the passmark to get the CPU processing power...
For example (not in the server world) ...newer Pentiums are much faster than old i7 running at higher speeds...
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
I am more a fan of good solid commercial hardware with good specs than I am of the "finest" specs.  

Common analogy:  Most user are well served with an i5 / 8 GB of memory commercial workstation.
My laptop is 16 Gb, i7, 1 TB NVMe fast drive. I paid a handsome premium for it but most people do not need this
10 cores at 2GHz will certainly work; performance is the question.

"only as file server without any virtualization": will you have a separate Domain Controller or will this be a workgroup?

Why no virtualization?  There are MANY good reasons for it and very few against.

You could do a 2-VM server with a quad-core CPU, but performance may not be adequate.  It's all a matter of what you want the server (or VMs) to do.

How many workstations are you expecting to support?

If you have enough RAM and fast drives, performance should be good for a small network.

Commented:
Generally CPU isn't a big factor for file servers. The more important factors are usually disk capacity, disk I/O, and network.

Imagine you hire someone to fetch files for you from your file cabinet. It's not really a highly intellectual job. The efficiency of fetching files from a cabinet is affected more  by things like how easily you can access the cabinet, how many people are trying to access the cabinet at the same time, etc...

It's a similar thing with file servers. You should focus on having multiple, fast drives in a configuration that provides resilience to failure and distributed access. Basically you're looking for possible bottlenecks. As long as the file server isn't doing a lot of processing, then just about any normal, semi-recent server should have a plenty-capable CPU.
Rowan HawkinsSystem Integrator

Commented:
10 Cores (Xeon probably) is overkill unless you are file server handling requests for hundreds of people. Even then, your Disk IO and Network bandwidth is a bigger limit and it may make sense to go with 2  lower core count CPU's to open up additional IO bandwidth on the motherboard. knowing the actual motherboard is architecture is key though.

To put it a way that will help you overall in planning, More cores = more simultaneous processes serviced in a single cycle. Even if they are slower executed once the data is actually in the CPU. Getting the data to the CPU takes the same amount of time if you are comparing apples you are putting them in the same architecture. so just the middle step is faster and then probably not that much faster in the greater scheme of things.

When you start talking real server hardware, things like IO bandwidth really matter more than processor frequency. I'm going to use an example of a much older generation that better illustrates what I want to show.

This is a 2011 generation Xeon E5600 Dual processor motherboard block diagram. It maxes at 6 cores per CPU. The motherboard has 6 SATA, Intel Soft Raid on the motherboard, 2x 1G  Lan ports and 7 card slots.

Almost everything is off of CPU1 which is logical because 1 CPU is all that is needed for a system. Motherboard Slots 1, 2, and 3, are linked to the Single CPU. You could access the slots the empty socket CPU but it would be a bunch of extra task switching steps needed to be processed by that CPU so it is not advised.

Now if you want to support more users and more IO access, install CPU#2 and additional matching RAM  which would  make Slots 4, 5, 6, and 7 available for Direct access to CPU2. Install an x16 LSI Hardware Raid card with 512M of ram in Slot-6 that would take all disk access off of the primary CPU.

Data than needs to pass between the CPUs would pass across the 6.3 Gbit/s QTI bus and go out the network interface. If I needed even more performance, I would install an I350 Intel network card in Slot 7 or 4 and move all of the off system user data requests to that interface. I would keep the on board network Interfaces for system management access. Now all user file requests are handled by CPU2 with a dedicated IO path and the core OS and general and maintenance traffic would flow on  the lower performing Intel 82576 Chip on CPU1.

Does  all of this make sense for why CPU speed is not the key driver and why even a single CPU with higher core count could be less preferred than 2 CPU's and a smaller individual core count?
 
x8dah_mbd_block.png
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
While I understand the question, you are approaching it in a way that the responses are all correct, but not apply to you.

In the first question, using simple terminology/horse power and handling.
You are asking whether a single horse drawn carriage is enough to move people around town. The answer is yes,
In you second question you are asking whether the same horse and carriage can handle two or three different tasks, Tasks that have yet to be defined nor do these tasks include whether the issue is that the horse can not pull that much weight, even if the carriage can hold that much weight.

My Suggestion is as follows:
Define what your needs are a file server does not exist by itself. If not mistaken, a file server that runs atop of a Dc would commonly be part of the foundation/essential version 15 or 25 users. How many users/devices are in your scenario?

IT is commonly better to have at least a pair of DCs to provide....
If you are talking about two, a standard version of the OS will support two, if you are talking about three VMs, you would need to purchase additional cpu licenses for the OS.

Commonly, the applications that you need to run on these VMs will specify the Physical minimum server requirement or VM based minimum VM server requirements.
These will include number of processors, speed and amount of memory, amount of storage and type that is needed.

If all the application that you intend to setup meet the 2.1 GHz processor and the cummulative amount of memory your systems require and the number of CPUs the VMs need versus what the host has...
In that case you should be fine. However, the goal of your setup is not to remain at the current status for the rest of the business... enterprise.
In such a case you should take account of how the amount of data/demand on the system will grow over the next five years when all goes well and as planned.
And setup the specification for the host server to at least last you the five years without having to go out and deal with either upgrading/adding memory, storage , etc.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
I have two very thorough EE articles on all things Hyper-V:

Some Hyper-V Hardware and Software Best Practices
Practical Hyper-V Performance Expectations

A simple file server with no LoB database back ends could get away with an Intel Xeon E3-1230v6 with 64GB ECC memory, a hardware RAID controller with 1GB of non-volatile cache, and 8x 2.5" 10K SAS drives of your choice to get decent IOPS.

We'd start with the above but with E3-1270v6 for a virtualization platform.
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
We seem to have gone backwards in computing efficiency. 20 years ago a twin CPU (single core) server with 4GB RAM could do the task of file serving for 20 users.
Software & Systems Engineer
Commented:
@andyalder ....it still can ....no problem on that...just pick a server with these specs ...load a lightweight OS (Linux/Core) and if a Gigabit NIC is present it can do the job nicely....a lot of companies still have ancient file server that are even consumer grade...

Commented:
Andy - you also have to figure that the needs were different. Twenty years ago, 20 users on a file server was typical. Now, it's common for entire companies to have every user connected to a file server. It's also common for a file server to be used as backends for public-facing sites that served millions of users.

There's a corresponding uplift in OS infrastructure and thus CPU requirements for that, but it's not that different in terms of cost-to-performance.

What you would actually spend back then (adjusting for inflation) is likely about the same you would spend today for equivalent or greater performance, relative capacity, and capability.

Nowadays, you could easily serve 20 people from a raspberry pi (not that that's a good idea but just saying you could).
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
In 1999 that file server was soaking 800 watts easily.

Core and Nehalem cut that in half.

Today's performance per watt is exponentially superior to that box in 1999. We can, and do, run entire companies on one server with a single Xeon E3-1270v6 or the new E-2100/E-2200 series processors with 64GB or 128GB RAM and SAS 10K spindles or Intel SSDs.

Heh ... we had our HVAC set up to heat our shop with those old boxes! Core changed all that. :(
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
They asked for the minimum spec, so you have to assume there are only a few users. The minimum spec for a fileserver is not 64 or 128GB RAM, an entry level NAS will suffice.

Commented:
They asked for the minimum spec for a "windows 2016 server" not a NAS. Technically speaking that's a 1.4Ghz 64-bit CPU with 512 MB of RAM (suuuure, Microsoft...). But a realistic minimum for a Windows 2016 server should not result in a nearly-crippled server and should account for at least a small amount of growth / elbowroom.
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
But if you stretch the point then hardware running Windows Storage Server 2016 is a NAS and it is Windows 2016 except for some roles being disallowed.

Dell and HPE (and others) make them and they just have a single slow 6 core CPU and 16GB RAM in the entry level ones. Can't really go much lower in spec as they don't make tiny DIMMs and single core CPUs any more.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
Storage Spaces Direct 2-Node Cluster

Storage Spaces Direct 2-Node Cluster
That's an Intel Xeon E3-1270v6, 64GB ECC, Intel S1200SP board, Intel SAS HBA, 2x Intel SSDs for cache, and 6x HGST NearLine for capacity. It's more than enough to run most of the smaller accounting firms we support.

"Minimum spec" can be a very subjective term as this discussion has brought about.

For a file server, an Intel Xeon E3-1230v6, 32GB ECC (less than the 64GB I quoted above), a RAID controller with non-volatile cache, and 8x smallish 10K SAS in RAID 6 would more than fit the bill and be quite inexpensive to boot. All that can be fit in a 1U platform with dual power supplies to remove that single point of failure. A pair of Intel D3 S4510 or S4610 series SATA SSDs with enough storage for the files would more than fit the bill too. It's all in what's going to be on that file server (Sage/Intuit/AC Vault/ETC).
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
If you really do want a minimum spec server could I suggest the ProLiant Microserver, Only takes 4 disks and max 16GB RAM but it comes with a free Linux based OS and is dirt cheap.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
We used the HPE ProLiant MicroServer in quite a few different roles. One was as a physical domain controller for cluster settings another was as a Windows Home Server and then Windows Small Business Server Essentials 2011.

It's a stout box and comes with HPE's warranty that can include on-site if needed.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial