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
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  • snorre - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    Anandtech is going down the drain, there are no doubts left about it IMHO.

    "Woodcrest" may be a nice improvement for Intel, but comparing it to clearly crippled (both software and hardware wise) Opteron systems is pretty lame by any standard.

    Remember: Fool us once shame on us, fool us twice shame on YOU!

    This is your third strike in my book, so now your officially out in THG hell.

    I hope you wake up and smell the coffee soon...
    Reply
  • Slappi - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    Exactly.

    I just can't believe what I am seeing here.

    This site was once THE HARDWARE SITE for me and I always recommended it to others.

    If Intel has a better chip hey that's great! But.... what is with the OBVIOUS underhanded reporting against AMD and for INTEL that has been going on here for the past few months?


    It is so blatant here that I am starting to wonder of Intel's new chips are a lot of smoke and mirrors. If it is such a great chip it should speak for itself, not with all this closed testing and crippled AMD machines. Makes me wonder.


    You would think after reading all the Anand Intel press that the new CPUs could cure cancer and cook dinner.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    i can give 2 pages full of rather strange figures and compares about this review. but i hope you'll bring the readers the windows benches fast and compare with other published benches so everybody can see that the linux optimization can shift wherever you want.

    you use workstaion/budget motherboard against the intel server board. use a sun galaxy or hp proliant.

    the specint and specfp are not correct, even intel gives way other numbers

    some benches are done with one socket others with 2 socket. why?

    mysql benches are optimized for two cores thats very clear.. the perfromance drop on opteron is much more the the one on woodcrest. knowing the architecture of the opteron this should be the other way round. the opteron is lacking here due to the motherboard

    you can extrapolate it in a different way showing different results, again you use 2 different opterons and use thsi difference to calculate 3.0, both setups are workstation and therefore performance is wrong. some benches you even talk and calculate 2 systems but not showing on the graphs.

    your conclusion: is rather funny. you state that the wooodcrest is the best performing server on a platform that has maybe 2% worlwide support with benches that can not be compared to other publication. no linnear powerconsuption with other servers because no exual hardware setup and most systems use 2gb/cpu thats a +28w consumption for the woodcrest.

    as stated from line 1 give some real world benches where people can compare with other posted results.
    Reply
  • zsdersw - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    quote:

    you use workstaion/budget motherboard against the intel server board. use a sun galaxy or hp proliant.


    The MSI K8N Master2-FAR board is a server motherboard. So are the boards in the other two Opteron servers.
    Reply
  • MrKaz - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    I don’t know if you all already have realized but that is what it will look like the 4x4 boards.

    And that’s NOT a server board, ONLY ONE of the processors is accessing directly to the memory and that must IMPACT the performance.

    http://www.msi.com.tw/images/product_img/mbd_img/9...">http://www.msi.com.tw/images/product_img/mbd_img/9...
    Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    Anyone that calls that MSI mobo a "server board" is a freakin retard.

    As for this "review" it has to be the worst on Anandtech in at least 6 months.
    Reply
  • zsdersw - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Anyone that calls that MSI mobo a "server board" is a freakin retard.


    I guess MSI themselves must be retards then. Look where it's listed: http://www.msi.com.tw/program/products/server/svr/...">http://www.msi.com.tw/program/products/server/svr/...
    Reply
  • ashyanbhog - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    for those who think MSI board must be good because they list it on their server pages,

    Just look at the memeory banks

    MSI has a single bank, forcing the 2nd CPU to share the memory channel, reducing memory bandwidth to both CPUs, and increasing memory latencies. They are discarding NUMA capabailities to keep the price at around 250$

    http://www.msi.com.tw/program/products/server/svr/...">http://www.msi.com.tw/program/products/server/svr/...

    Now check Tyan k8we and Supermicro h8dci boards linked below. Notice that they all carry two seperate memory banks, giving each processor its own dedicated bank. This doubles the available memory bandwidth and keeps lantencies low.

    http://www.tyan.com/products/html/thunderk8we.html">http://www.tyan.com/products/html/thunderk8we.html

    http://www.supermicro.com/Aplus/motherboard/Optero...">http://www.supermicro.com/Aplus/motherboard/Optero...

    Iwill D8kn is another similar board that I can recall. They all recommend that you put atleast on card in each bank in a two processor setup to utilize the extra bandwidth.

    But adding this extra bank comes at a cost, all the above boards are priced around $500 mark. Its common knowledge in the AMD community that one needs get the boards with seperate memory banks if on is looking for a high performance machine.

    If you still have doubt, check the review on GamePC, linked below. Notice that the Tyan TIGER k8we, (with single memory channel to both CPUs like the MSI board) is beaten in every benchmark by Tyan THUNDER k8we (which has dedicated memory channels for both CPUs)
    Reply
  • BasMSI - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    MSI lists them as Workstation boards, not server boards.

    http://www.msi.com.tw/program/products/server/svr/...">>>See link<<

    They should have used the K8D-Master series, those are server boards and do have NUMA.
    Reply
  • zsdersw - Friday, June 09, 2006 - link

    It's under the "Server and Rackmount" section of their website. Reply

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