Tip: Getting the good hardware in Azure

I was messing around while at #sqlsat275 with Mark Stacy (blog) and Glenn Berry (blog)with a goal to benchmark some Azure images to see if different VM’s had different performance profiles CPU and memory speed in the Amsterdam data centre.

We used geekbench which is available here:


The initial conclusion is that while there was not much variation on processor performance between the A2-A7 images there was a lot of variation in the memory speed between  older and newer images.

One the memory benchmark an older A4 image which I have had for a 4+ months only achieved a score of 697 whereas new images consistently scored 996 in the the Amsterdam centre. While the overall geekbench score was only 4% faster, the memory performance was Some 30% faster !! Pretty important for workloads like SSAS.

So if you have any older images or you get a slower one and you care about memory speed you could I guess just provision another image until you get the one you want 😉

How do I know if I have the faster memory?

The quickest way to test is to look at the clock speed of the CPU in either task manager or the computer properties. if it says “2.10” you are on the newer platform. if it says “2.09” you are on the older hardware. I don’t know if the extra “.01” on the processor is actual clock speed differences or just something Azure does so that they can internally distinguish between newer hardware (I suspect the latter).

Unfortunately I haven’t figured out a way to get the memory clock speed in Azure (yet). tools like CPU-Z don’t report this in virtual environments, but geekbench can help here. Any suggestions welcome.

Is Dublin any faster than Amsterdam?

I couldn’t resist a quick test of a Dublin VM to compare it on geekbench to an Amsterdam VM. The CPU benchmark scores were almost identical, but the memory very slightly faster again (like 2% faster).

Now don’t get me started on disk performance!! Quite a hot topic in the SQL community at the moment. It does seem like Azure has some work to do before a lot of SQL professionals start to take it seriously IO wise.

Don’t forget that soon the A9 images may become available for IaaS which should help memory performance no end. Hmmm 1600 memory clock speed…yum.


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