I plan to create a SQL Server 7 database containing about 40 – 70GB of data. The data will be generated by queries. How should I spend my money for a development server? What is most important–fast disk, cache, RAID or RAM, or processor speed? Will I be able to benefit from two processors?
First of all, you ask the question concerning your development server. Do you know what your production server will look like? Your development server should, if possible, mimic production so that you can conduct proper stress tests to simulate your actual production environment.
How many users do you foresee having?
How many queries and transactions will you have per hour?
Is this a data warehouse or an OLTP application?
As far as benefiting from two processors, you can benefit if you need it–that is, if you are maxing out on CPU cycles. I’d recommend getting a machine with two processors that allows for later expansion.
Its hard to say what is most important. A deficiency in CPU, RAM, or IO can cripple your performance. The key is to get the proper configuration of each. As a general rule, people seem to pay more attention to CPUs and RAM. They buy lots of both but overlook the importance of IO. This is especially the case when it comes to planning for backups (dumping to disk is fastest).