Conclusion

Two months of testing and tweaking allowed us to gather a lot of information. Our Sybase and DB2 tests still need a bit of tweaking before we can publish result on them, but with tests on SSL, JSP, LAMP, MySQL and PostGreSQL, what can we conclude so far?

Sun's T2000 server and it's 32 thread T1 CPU turned out very variable results. It is not the best choice for open source databases. PostGreSQL and MySQL scale better on Solaris than they do on Linux, but both RDBMS have trouble scaling over multiple cores. It is likely that the DB2 and Sybase results will be much better on the T2000. The SAMP web performance of the T2000 was good when we cached the PHP pages and we had few accesses to the MySQL database. When PHP pages had to regenerated with every access and the query cache of MySQL was used, performance was pretty bad compared to the x86 competition. The best purpose for the T2000 is a JSP server with SSL authentication.

The Intel Xeon 5160, a.k.a. Woodcrest, will simply be the most powerful server CPU this year (though it's not yet available for purchase of course). As our extrapolated calculations show, even a 2.6 GHz Woodcrest will outperform the current Opteron 285 with a 5 to 55% margin, nothing short of impressive. The new Xeon is however not invincible: the Opteron can still give some serious resistance when running some instruction mixes with lots of rotates, add-carry or load effective address instructions. RSA, AES and other benchmarks clearly show this. Intel will still have to convince some software vendors to port to SSE if it wants Woodcrest to be the completely superior CPU. The advantage in MySQL is also rather small, a result of the relatively high latency of the FB-DIMMs. But we are nitpicking: Intel's newest Xeon has taken back the performance/Watt crown. In one word: Woodcrest rocks!

And what about AMD? The Opteron remains a powerful architecture with a flexible platform. It is quickly becoming the most popular platform for 4 sockets and the upcoming Tulsa CPU is most likely not going to change that. However part of AMD's success has been Intel's Prescott/Nocona failure. In the K6 and Athlon (K7) years, AMD managed to improve the architecture every two years. In 1999 we had the original Athlon, in 2000 we got Thunderbird (integrated L2 cache) and in 2002 we got the Athlon XP. For the few past years, the Opteron architecture has made the move to dual-core and received a better memory controller, but the necessary IPC improvements and cache enlargements have not materialized. "Only the Paranoid survive", remember?

The Intel P-M architecture went from 1.7 GHz Single Core (Banias) in 2003 to 3 GHz (Conroe, Woodcrest) in 2006, while it quadrupled the L2 cache and significantly improved the IPC. At the same time, AMD's K8 series went from 1.8 GHz to 2.8 GHz dual-core, with the same amount of cache, and almost equal IPC. The result is that AMD will not be able to regain the performance crown in the dual and quad-core market until the K8L arrives. The future looks bright in the quad socket market however.

In summary:

Intel Xeon 5160 (Woodcrest)
Advantages:
  • Best server performance across all applications
  • Best Performance/Watt in the high end
  • Absolutely stunning web server performance
  • FB-DIMM enables high RAM capacity and bandwidth (quad channel)
Disadvantages:
  • Needs SSE optimized code for some special case code (RSA, AES)
  • FB-DIMM adds extra latency, cost (small) and power
UltraSparc T1 / Sun T2000
Advantages:
  • Superb SSL performance
  • Excellent Performance/Watt with SSL and Java code
  • Solaris, a robust and well scaling OS
  • Quad channel enables high RAM capacity
Disadvantages:
  • Heavy optimizing is necessary; out of box software performance is low
  • Low single threaded performance; also results in low performance in server software that scales badly
  • Price/Performance compared to Woodcrest
AMD Opteron
Advantages:
  • Well rounded CPU: performs well even with non optimized code; still excellent MySQL server results
  • Excellent Quad socket platform
  • Does not need FB-DIMM for high capacity thanks to NUMA
(DDR2 (socket-F) offers lower latency, less power and less cost )

Disadvantages:
  • Web server performance compared to Woodcrest
  • Power at higher clockspeeds (110 W vs. 80 W)
Performance Analyses
POST A COMMENT

91 Comments

View All Comments

  • JohanAnandtech - Saturday, June 10, 2006 - link

    The test you link is running apachebench while testing how fast STATIC html can be sent. Our LAMP test has to run PHP, access the MYSQL database, make calculations on that data ... this called DYNAMIC content.

    If you do not understand why a static HTML page can be served many times faster than a complex one with dynamic content, well...

    You are basically saying that a test is wrong because it doesn't give the same results as another test which tests with different software, different dataset. Duh.
    Reply
  • BasMSI - Wednesday, June 14, 2006 - link

    I noticed Johan.

    But still, it's stupid to use and publish benchmark results from a test that can't handle/test the systems at their max.
    Come on, get real, it's like testing a Lada and a Ferrari on a track that can't do more then 100KM/H and then state, look how well the Lada keeps up with the Ferrari.

    Also, what's wrong with static HTML tests?
    I see no harm in those, many websites are still static.
    And you used them before to show how fast the Opterons where, so why not again?
    Now we have absolutly nothing to compare or verify....so bogus test-results.
    Reply
  • BrechtKets - Saturday, June 10, 2006 - link

    quote:

    If you don't know how to setup a server, then stay away from trying to do such.


    Maybe you should check the author of the aces hardware article.

    Also not that those tests were done with apachebench en the tests now have been done with httperf and and autobench...
    Reply
  • FreakyD - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    Dell has released some new servers with the new Intel Woodcrest platform. The pricing is less than for the older Netburst architecture servers... It looks like we'll have a price war on our hands, and of course AMD will end up losing that battle since Intel has lower production costs with higher volume.

    Also interesting to note, the 3.0Ghz Woodcrest Intel processor that was quite competitive in this review is the lowest end processor on the new Dell servers. Their highest end one is a 3.73 Ghz part. AMD's highest end dual core server processor is currently 2.6 Ghz. So there's additional performance gains for Intel vs AMD in a highest end server processor shootout.

    I'm disappointed that AMD hasn't done more since they released the K8 architecture. AMD has also been slow to release their new server platform with Pacifica enhancements.

    It's too bad that Dell has taken so long to begin using AMD in servers. They've held the performance lead for quite some time. With technology and market leaders changing so fast, they should have been faster to adjust their product lineup.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    duh my dear friend.... the dell servers you are pointing to can be checked where? link?
    you are mixing woodcrest that is at max 3000mhz and the dempsey 3.73 both on the same platform. dempsey is still no match for the woodcrest and opterons, so thats normal that the price tag is that low...... and its already dead before it is even launched

    check this review, the dempsey is still wiped out on 90% of all the benches by an old architecture and certainly if you would check the power consumption/performance chart.

    http://www.gamepc.com/labs/view_content.asp?id=xeo...">http://www.gamepc.com/labs/view_content.asp?id=xeo...
    the proc cost of intel is certainly not lower than the amd ones... looking at the die size the woodcrest and conroe are bigger

    @anand, those type of benches would be nice on a woodcrest, if you fail to give them now by "any reason" they will be available in the near future by other reviewers. so its always better to be the first :)
    Reply
  • FreakyD - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    Ahh, my mistake, thanks for the correction so nobody else gets the wrong idea. Once again I'm confused by Intel's naming and numbering scheme to not know exactly what's being sold. Reply
  • Aileur - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    This is a sad sad display. And i dont mean the review, i mean everybody bashing this article and each other like their lives depended on it.
    Its a cpu review on a hardware site, try to put it into perspective.

    You read it, you draw your own conclusions if you want to, you go on with your life.
    Reply
  • ashyanbhog - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    Sure our lives dont depend on it,

    but Anandtech was a site you could rely onto get unbiased reviews. I have configured specs for atleast 25 machines based on Anandtech reports. Whenever somebody asked which CPU or someother part was better, I would suggest that they search for its review on Anandtech.

    Even in the IDF conroe demo, Anandtech failed to identify some parts of the Intel setup that could have impacted performance, it was only after readers expressed their displeasure that Anandtech did a second review with the updates that should have actually been part of the Intel setup preview

    If this new found low of Anandtech continues, I'll have to choose a different site to base my decisions on.

    Also remember, Intel has previously used and continues to use Anandtech review of its processors in its analysts meet and at other places. As somebody pointed out, even a $0.15 swing in Intel share prices alters its valuation by one billion dollar!!! Intel could buy a handful of review reports by favoring advertising budgets for a fraction of that money.

    Anandtech made my life a little easier by giving unbiased reviews, looks like I'll have to get back to comparing results from a few reviews as I used to do before I discovered Anandtech
    Reply
  • Slappi - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    The Message is Clear.......

    ....Anand is getting paid by the big Intel.


    Seriously.... you guys should at least TRY to hide your bias.

    I mean months of setting up and you miss a known error that falsely reports extremely low dual OP. numbers?!?


    Woodcrest ROCKS?~?~?

    Something tells me that is gonna come back to bite you one day in the near future.
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    well ya gotta love this statement:
    quote:

    "In one word: Woodcrest rocks!"


    That's two words LOL
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now