CPU - More Cores vs Higher Clock



  • Hello All-

    We've been using pfSense for years and love it. We recently added on an addition subnet through another interface, and the traffic seems to be bogging down the firewall a bit. We decided to buy a new server for pfSense, and are wondering what to choose in terms of the processor. I've read several resources online that specify the speed and core count for processors depending on the speed of the network. I read that for 750 Mbps to 10 Gbps, you should use a processor with at least 3.5 GHz and 6 to 8 cores. When looking at newer generation servers, the processors seem to favor Cores over Speed. We would like to build out a server that is powerful enough for our purposes, without breaking the bank. the options for the processor are Intel Xeon Platinum 8100 series, or Intel Xeon Gold 6100 series. Considering the cheapest we could find the Xeon Platinum 8158 ( 12-core 3.0 GHz ) was about $7000.00, it seems cost prohibitive. If we truly need to be above 3.5 GHz, then there is an Intel Xeon Platinum 8156 ( 4-core 3.6 GHz ) that we could buy for the same price, again cost prohibitive. Otherwise, we could buy an Intel Xeon Gold 6154 ( 18-core 3.0 GHz ) for roughly $3600.00, or an Intel Xeon Gold 6136 ( 12-core 3.0 GHz ) for $2500.00.

    I guess what I'm asking is, would it be better to have more cores with a lower clock speed, or less cores with a higher clock speed. Will pfSense efficiently make use of the extra cores, or would we be better off spending our money on a processor that is faster, yet has less cores. We don't have a whole lot of VPN activity, and lightly use Squid. Otherwise, we have 4 interfaces that we are using and routing between ( including WAN ). We are not utilizing multi-wan or load balancing. We have a single router with a LAN ( approximately 300 connected devices - not yet VLAN tagged ), two DMZs ( one for Video Cameras - roughly 128 - high traffic,  and a Wireless Guest Network - moderate traffic ).

    We would appreciate some insight into what would be best for our needs. Thanks in advance for your help.

    –Joe



  • I'd look at along the lines of a E3-1275v6 (for value) or D-1531 (or hold out for the newer D-1533N for future capability) for this application before looking at anything in the new medal color lineup.