The short version: configure one volume/drive for TempDB. Divide the total space by 9, and that’s your size number. Create 8 equally sized data files and one log file, each that size. Presto, the drive is full and your TempDB is configured for easy performance.
The long version is a little more complicated.
If you’re on SQL Server 2012, get on SP1 Cumulative Update 10 or newer. Microsoft made performance improvements to SQL Server 2014 so that it writes to TempDB less frequently. Because you were so good this year, they even backported it to SQL Server 2012, too. Get on this level – and by this level, I mean the latest updates shown on SQLServerUpdates.com.
Create one volume/drive/array for TempDB. You want this to be a separate volume from your user database & log files – not just for performance reasons, but also for logistical management reasons. Any user can dump a ton of stuff into TempDB without your control, and they can even run TempDB out of space. If TempDB lives on the same volume as your user data and log files, and the drive runs out of space, you can have a tough time restarting SQL Server. However, if TempDB is on its own volume that runs out of space, no big deal – just restart the instance and you’re back in business.
If you’re using a SAN-backed cluster, use local SSDs for TempDB. Since SQL Server 2012, Microsoft has fully supported using local solid state drives even in a cluster. This has three benefits: the local SSD is often cheaper, it’s often faster, and it keeps your SAN path traffic freed up for your valuable user data file & log file reads and writes.
Create 8 equally sized data files. This helps you avoid the GAM/SGAM/PFS page contention issues described in Microsoft KB 2154845. In your journey through the blogosphere, you may have read that at one point you were supposed to create one data file per core. That’s no longer the case – just start with 8, and only add more when you’re facing the page contention issues described in that KB article.
Size them (and the log file) to fill up the drive. If the drive’s dedicated to TempDB anyway, why leave free space? You don’t want SQL Server pausing user activity to stop to grow the log file out, and you don’t want to have to hassle with possibly uneven data file growth sizes, and you haven’t got time for the pain. Just set it up and walk away with confidence.
And while you’re setting up the server, check out our free SQL Server Setup Checklist.