The New Intel Platform

The biggest advantage of Intel's newest Bensley platform is longevity: the Dempsey, Woodcrest and quad-core Clovertown Xeon all use the same socket and platform.



Bensley also eliminates the shared Xeon bus by giving each CPU an independent bus running at 1333 MHz. This is somewhat similar to the old Athlon MP platform, and it should be noted that this makes the Blackford Northbridge or MCH a pretty complex chip. Blackford also offers up to 4 memory channels and 24 PCI Express lanes.



The Dual Independent Bus (DIB) will not make much difference for Woodcrest and Dempsey as only some HPC applications are really limited by the FSB bandwidth. Three years of benchmarking tell us that most server and workstation application are not bottlenecked by the modern FSB speeds. The Opteron platform does not scale so much better thanks to NUMA in dual and quad core configurations. No, in most applications, the low latency integrated memory controller makes the difference, not FSB/NUMA bandwidth. Of course, with Clovertown, or two Woodcrests on one chip, a shared FSB might become a bottleneck, and in that case a DIB is a good idea.

The biggest innovation of Blackford is the introduction of fully buffered DIMMs (FB-DIMMs). On the FB-DIMM PCB we still find parallel DDR-2, but the Advanced Memory Buffer (AMB) converts this parallel data stream into a serial one to the Blackford chip. The serial links between the memory subsystem and the chipset not only eliminate skew problems but they also greatly simplify the routing on the motherboard. Routing quad-channel DDR-2 would be a nightmare.



The AMB, which you see under the heatsink in the middle of the DIMM, solves the skew and routing problems, and it comes with a relatively small price premium. The AMB also allows full duplex operation from the chipset to the AMB, where other memory bus designs are half duplex and introduce extra latency when alternating between send and receive modes. However, the AMB dissipates about 5 Watt and increases latency. This means that with 8 DIMMs or more, the advantage of using 65 Watt Woodcrest CPUs over 89-92 W Opterons will be gone.

The Blackford chipset uses X8 PCI Express links to talk to other various chips such as the ESB-2 I/O bridge, or "Southbridge" to keep it simple. The other PCI Express links can be used for 10 Gbit Ethernet or a SATA or SAS controller. A workstation version of Blackford, Greencreek will offer dual X16 PCI Express for running multiple workstation graphic cards.

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  • 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

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