First Round K.O.

We measured performance using two metrics: the average time it took to fulfill a request to the web server, and the total number of templates (pages) served by the web server during the 30-minute test period. The two numbers are related, but both are useful to look at in order to get an idea of the real world difference in performance between the platforms.

All of our tests were done on dual processor configurations. So, to make the charts easier to read, we omitted any 2-way labeling on the CPU names themselves.



Frankly, we were shocked when we saw the first performance results, and we ran and re-ran them to make sure our numbers were correct. In the end, they were.

The Opteron 248 setup managed to outperform Intel’s fastest, largest cache Xeon MP by a whopping 45%. Boasting 141 ms request times, the Opteron 248 system was 12% faster than the Opteron 244 setup, indicating very good scaling with clock speed — a 50% increase in performance for every 100% increase in clock speed.

It is widely known that the Opteron and Xeon should not be compared on a clock for clock basis, but with the 2.0GHz Xeon MP being the fastest Xeon MP available just about a year ago, it is interesting to note the performance advantage AMD can offer over aging Intel systems.

You don’t even have to go for the top-of-the-line Opteron system in order to achieve performance greater than an Intel Xeon platform; although not depicted here, even the Opteron 240 should be able to be, at least, as fast as the 2.8GHz Xeon MP.

Intel’s 533MHz FSB Xeon 3.20GHz with its 1MB L2 cache may be a better match for the Opteron, but it is going to take much more than a 400MHz increase in clock speed to close the 45% performance gap that exists here. These Xeon parts are hard to come by and we’d love to re-run the tests with the new 3.2GHz parts (although they have smaller caches, the extra clock speed and faster FSB should help performance a bit) to see how they stack up.



Here, you can see the real-world performance advantages from another angle. Instead of looking at it as how much more responsive the Opteron server was, look at it from a standpoint of how many more people were able to access the site being hosted.

The performance, once again, speaks for itself. Just as the Athlon MP was a leader in web and database serving performance, the Opteron carries the torch for AMD this time around.

Keep in mind that web and database server applications are very sensitive to memory performance. So, although the Xeon attempts to hide larger memory access latencies with its 2MB L3 cache, the Opteron’s on-die memory controller helps improve performance significantly. The Opteron’s TLB optimizations work alongside the on-die memory controller to ensure that accesses to main memory (which will happen more frequently on the Opteron than on the Xeon because of the absence of any L3 cache) occur as quickly as possible.

The Test Final Words
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  • Pandaren - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    cramitpal, speaking as an advocate of the k8 architecture, I have to say that you are acting like an asshat. cut the holy jihad crap and jerry falwell flaming - frankly you sound like a Steve Jobs worshiper or a Linux-happy script kiddie.

    k8 is a nice architecture for servers. it has been clear to me for some time that intel designed netburst for multimedia applications, and this emphasis has hurt netburst Xeons ever since the days of the Willamette (anyone remember the Willamette based Xeons getting matched or beaten by Pentium III based Xeons?)
    Reply
  • PaperclipGod - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    I really enjoyed this article. Very well written. Looking forward to the Itanium 2 comparison. Reply
  • CRAMITPAL - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    What a humbling experience for Intel... Results mirror other website tests of the latest and greatest Xeon w/L3 cache. AMD just HAMMERS Intel's Xeon into the ground.

    You would think Intel would be anxious to provide a 2P Itanic for comparison, wouldn't you??? Do you think Intel is afraid enterprise will realize that Opteron can provide Itanic 64-bit performance, and superior 32-bit performance for tens of thousands less??? The clowns in Satan Clara must STILL think the World is full of sheep! This review should make the Intel fanboys go POSTAL again.

    SOS same dumbass Intel fanboys. Maybe these confused fanboys are actually Intel SpinMeisters looking to keep their jobs as Intel's sales and market share diminish???
    Reply

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