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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  • 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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