Sockets vs Cores vs vCPUs


May 5, 2017

What are the differences between Sockets, Cores, and vCPUs.

For example,
a. 4 Sockets, 1 Core, 1 vCPU.
b. 1 Socket, 4 Cores, 1 vCPU.
c. 1 Socket, 1 Core, 4 vCPUs.
are these 3 VMs have same performance?

Vladimir Bulgaru

Active Member
Jun 1, 2019
Moscow, Russia
  • Socket is the physical slot for a CPU. It matters if, for instance, you need NUMA (allocated RAM per CPU, which speeds up computation).
  • Core - is the physical core a CPU has. Here it gets a bit confusing - within Proxmox the number of cores equals the number of threads, so if your CPU supports hyper-threading, the cores count is double the physical cores of the CPU. Within Proxmox settings, it tells how many threads per each socket should be allocated.
  • vCPU - by default, it's the product of sockets and cores per socket allocated. To cite the docs:
    In Proxmox VE the maximal number of plugged CPUs is always cores * sockets. To start a VM with less than this total core count of CPUs you may use the vpus setting, it denotes how many vCPUs should be plugged in at VM start.
    As far as i understand, you can start a VM with less vCPUs than set via sockets and cores and increase them upon need (ballooning style).
Given your scenarios:
  1. 4 Sockets, 1 Core, 1 vCPU means that a max of 4 vCPUs are possible, but you are starting a VM (only Linux support) with one vCPU
  2. 1 Socket, 4 Cores, 1 vCPU - same situation - max of 4 vCPUs are possible, but you are starting a VM with one vCPU
  3. 1 Socket, 1 Core, 4 vCPUs - not possible to set it up, as vCPUs are <= sockets * cores.
At the same time:
  1. 4 Sockets, 1 Core, 4 vCPUs - allows for NUMA optimisations if your server has actual 4 sockets
  2. 1 Socket, 4 Cores, 4 vCPUs - identical to previous scenario, if NUMA is not used / considered, but may influence the cost of licensing
To sum up:
  • most likely you don't need to touch vCPU settings
  • more sockets with less cores each (but <= than physical sockets on the system) allows for NUMA optimisation
  • less sockets with more cores each may decrease the licensing costs, since some licenses are socket-based


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