On August 23rd, 2022, Microsoft released SQL Server 2022 RC0, which is Build 16.0.900.6. One of the new features in SQL Server 2022 RC0 (that is now public) is Intel Quick Assist Technology (QAT) for SQL Server. This feature lets you use integrated offloading and acceleration with Intel QAT with SQL Server 2022. In order to use this feature, you must download and install the free Intel QAT driver. This post is about how to install the Intel QAT driver.
Why Does This Matter?
The initial use case for Intel QAT on SQL Server 2002 is backup compression. QAT backup compression has two modes, hardware and software. In order to use hardware mode, you must have SQL Server 2022 Enterprise Edition and some sort of Intel QAT hardware. The upcoming Intel Sapphire Rapids server processors will have QAT hardware support built in. You can also use an Intel QAT 8970 PCIe AIC, in any system that has an available supported PCIe slot.
Intel QAT will also work in software mode, with or without any Intel QAT hardware. If you have SQL Server 2022 Standard Edition, you can only use software mode, even if you do have QAT-capable hardware. Regardless of what QAT mode you want to use or what Edition of SQL Server 2022 you have, you must have the Intel QAT driver installed on the system.
If you decide to use Intel QAT backup compression with SQL Server 2022 on any of your systems, you will want to have the Intel QAT drivers installed on all of your SQL Server 2022 instances. This is because if you have a QAT-DEFLATE compressed backup, you MUST have the Intel QAT driver installed on your instance in order to be able to restore the backup.
This is especially relevant in a DR situation. BTW, this feature only works on SQL Server 2022 on Windows.
How to Install the Intel QAT Driver
The first step is to download the latest Intel QAT driver. It will come down as a zip file that is about 45MB in size. Next you need to extract the zip file and navigate to the QuickAssist/Setup directory.
Just double-click on QatSetup.exe to start the installation. In this case, I am installing on a system that does NOT have any Intel QAT capable hardware. This will be a common scenario right now, since most people will not have any Intel QAT capable hardware. I point this out because in this scenario, you will get a somewhat scary warning dialog as soon as the setup program starts.
You must click the Yes button to go ahead and install the QAT drivers when no QAT hardware is present. Intel could have eliminated the red X icon in the dialog and reworded the message to make it less intimidating.
After that, you must accept the license agreement.
Finally, click Install. The installation is very fast, since it is not installing very much.
On my system, the install was so fast, I could not get a screen capture of the installation progress before it was done. Here is the completion screen.
This is what the installation summary should look like when you don’t have any QAT hardware present. This will be a very common scenario.
After you install the Intel QAT drivers, you still need to do some configuration in SQL Server 2022 to enable the feature. I will cover that in a subsequent post.
I think this will be a very useful feature for many organizations. Luckily, I have been extensively testing it for quite some time and I am pretty impressed with how it works. It will give you more choices about how you can configure your database backups in order to meet different goals or mitigate real problems you may be having with older versions of SQL Server.
This is also relevant for cloud VMs. Different cloud providers are likely to offer QAT capable processors in the near future. Regardless of that, you can still use software mode (even on SQL Server 2022 Standard Edition) on any system, whether it is a cloud VM or not. Just install the Intel QAT drivers and do some simple configuration in SQL Server 2022.
This is another reason why hardware still matters in the cloud! I talk more about that in this post:
If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!