Upgrading to SQL Server 2022

Introduction

A number of ongoing and upcoming developments in software and hardware, are shaping up to make the next twelve to eighteen months an ideal time to migrate from a legacy version of SQL Server to a modern version of SQL Server. This post is about the value of upgrading to SQL Server 2022 during CY2023.

This is relevant whether you are running bare metal on premises, virtualized on premises, or in a cloud VM in an IaaS scenario.

Software Developments

SQL Server 2022 is scheduled to release “before the end of CY2022”. Despite what some people seem to think, I am convinced that SQL Server 2022 will be a very significant and useful release that will provide a lot of value.

These are the highlights (so far) according to Microsoft.

With my focus on performance and scalability, I have my own list. Most of these items help you get better performance with virtually no engineering effort. Simply upgrade to SQL Server 2022, change your database compatibility level to 160, and enable Query Store (on existing databases), and most of these features will light up.

Query Store Hints

Some of these features will kick in just by upgrading to SQL Server 2022, without making any other changes.

Whether or not all of these new features will work as well as advertised remains to be seen. But at least Microsoft is making a concerted effort in this area.

Upgrading to SQL Server 2022
New IQP Features by Version

I believe that SQL Server 2022 will be an important release, like SQL Server 2016 was, only more so. Many people are running legacy versions of SQL Server on legacy versions of Windows Server, on old out of warranty hardware and storage. If you are in that situation, SQL Server 2022 gives you more reasons to finally upgrade.

Another reason to upgrade is your support status.

SQL Server Support Status

Personally, I consider any version of SQL Server prior to SQL Server 2019 to be a legacy version of SQL Server in late 2022. Here is the support status of the most recent previous versions:

Mainstream support means that there are functional bug fixes, security fixes, and new features/feature improvements. Extended support means that there are only security fixes. Once you are out of extended support, there are no more updates or (unless you pay for additional extended security support or move your SQL Server instance to an Azure VM).

Besides all the new features and improvements, SQL Server 2022 will be in mainstream support for a longer period than SQL Server 2019. BTW, regardless of what major version of SQL Server you are running, you should make a concerted effort to patch it! I still see many instances of SQL Server that are running on extremely old builds for whatever major version of SQL Server is installed.

Windows Server 2022

Windows Server 2022 was released on August 18th, 2021, so it has been available for over a year now. It doesn’t have a scary new UI (like Windows 11), so it is not a jarring change from Windows Server 2019.

Here is some reference material about Windows Server 2022.

If you are going to migrate to SQL Server 2022, I think you should use Windows Server 2022 rather than an older version of Windows Server. SQL Server 2022 will run on Windows Server 2016 and newer, but it is a mistake to use anything besides Windows Server 2022.

Hardware Developments

Whether you are running in the cloud or on-premises, hardware still matters! Cloud providers currently offer many different VM types with many different available CPUs and configurations. Some of these are good choices for SQL Server, while some are not so good.

Both AMD and Intel are pretty close to releasing new generation processors that will also require new model servers. Unlike some recent CPU generations, these upcoming releases promise some very substantial single threaded performance improvements. Both AMD and Intel will have DDR5, PCIe 5.0 and CXL support in these new processors which will be very useful for database servers. They will also have AVX-512 support, which can be leveraged in SQL Server 2022.

The cloud providers are very interested in these upcoming CPUs, and you should be too. This is true whether you will be running in the cloud or not.

AMD EPYC

AMD is supposed to release the 5nm Zen 4 Genoa in Q4 2022 and the 5nm Zen 4c Bergamo CPU families in early 2023. Genoa is general purpose, while Bergamo is for cloud native usage (with up to 128 physical cores).

AMD Server CPU Roadmap

Genoa will have up to 96C/192T, with 12 channels of DDR5 RAM and CXL 1.1. It will also have PCI 5.0 support and AVX-512 support.

AMD Genoa Features

This is a supposedly leaked slide that shows upcoming Genoa and Bergamo SKUs. Of keen interest for SQL Server are the “F” frequency optimized SKUs, such as the EPYC 9374F.

AMD EPYC 9004 Family

This supposedly leaked slide shows how to understand model numbers for modern AMD EPYC processors.

AMD EPYC Zen 4 Naming

Intel Sapphire Rapids

After many delays, Intel is supposed to release their upcoming Sapphire Rapids Server processors in early 2023. Depending on which leaks you believe, Sapphire Rapids will have up to either 56 or 60 physical cores.

These CPUs will have multiple hardware offloading processors built into the CPU itself. These include:

  • Quick Assist Technology (QAT)
    • Cryptographic and compression operations
    • SQL Server 2022 will use this, possibly for more than just backup compression
  • Data Streaming Accelerator (DSA)
    • Data movement operations, within CPU, to RAM and to storage
    • This might be useful for a DBMS
  • Advanced Matrix Extensions (AMX)
    • This is mainly for AI and ML, used in tensor operations

This is the Intel Server CPU roadmap from earlier this year (before the latest Sapphire Rapids delay).

Upgrading to SQL Server 2022
Intel Server CPU Roadmap

This has some of the new features in Sapphire Rapids.

Upgrading to SQL Server 2022
Sapphire Rapids Features

I will have more detailed information about both these new AMD and Intel server processors in upcoming blog posts.

Final Words

Over the next few months, we are going to see the release of SQL Server 2022, along with new generations of server processors from both AMD and Intel.

This convergence of events makes it much easier to build a business and technical case for moving from a legacy version of SQL Server running on a legacy operating system on old, out of warranty hardware and slow storage, to a much better and more flexible data platform that is able to take advantage of all of these new developments to get better performance and scalability.

Start Building Your Case

Nobody has ever come to me and said, “Hey Glenn, would you like to have a new database server?”. I have also never had anyone ask me if I would like to upgrade to the latest version of SQL Server. It has always been up to me to build the technical and business case for a hardware or version upgrade. Now is the time to start building your case!

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 GlennAlanBerryThanks for reading!

 

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