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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  • rayl - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    "Best Performance/Watt in the high end "

    Which part of performance per watt do you not understand? Do more, pay less.
    Reply
  • MrKaz - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    Dual Opteron 275 HE 2CPU's (275HE) - 4 GB RAM 192 Watts!!!
    Dual Opteron 275 2CPU's - 4 GB RAM 239 Watts!!!
    Dual Xeon 5160 3 GHz 2 CPU's - 4 GB RAM 245 Watts!!!

    http://www.intel.com/performance/server/xeon/ppw.h...">http://www.intel.com/performance/server/xeon/ppw.h...
    Even Intel numbers show Xeon 3.6Ghz on par with AMD (obvious fake)

    And the do more pay less, is not like you say on the server market, while your PC is doing lot of work (processing) with a computer game, most servers stand there doing almost nothing. Our servers for example from 0:00 to 8:00 do almost zero. Even in the day they work very little. Our Xeon 2.4 is more than enough, and I think most people think the same. Of course this depends a lot what you do, but this is generic. I think you know why virtualization is very important right?
    Reply
  • rayl - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    Isn't this obvious to you. Those are power consumption numbers at 100% CPU load. This is where performance/watt number really matters.

    If you're running idle, the power saving mode starts kicking in, you'll need a separate table to draw your conclusion.

    Why this preoccupation with power consumption? 6-watts for a performance leap; it's moot.
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link


    It will be interesting to note the Delta difference between 1 Woodcrest 5160 and 2 is 59W as reported by TechReport, and since the TDP for Woodcrest 5160 is 80W TDP we can extrapolate and since the TDP for Woodcrest 5148 is 40W I can expect it to spew about 30W per processor.

    245W - (2x29W) = 187W

    This bring the Low Power Woodcrest system to ~ the same power usage as the HE Opteron 275's even with the heat spewing FB-DIMM's with higher performance per watt, pretty impressive.
    Reply
  • Questar - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    Yeah I'm worried about those six watts of power when I'm getting twice the performace. Reply
  • fikimiki - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    You forgot about Intel chipset consumption - 22 Watts.
    So Intel has 245+22=267 vs. 192 and even if you are running in power-saving mode, chipset is running all the time...
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    No Wrong, they measured the system power consumption hence why the Woodcrests systems are so hungry in comparison to the Opteron the FB-DIMM's are what eating away at the wattage.

    So in the end it's 223 + 22 = 245, if indeed the chipset is consuming 22W.
    Reply
  • Questar - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    That was system power consumption - it included the chipset dufus. Reply
  • Saist - Wednesday, June 07, 2006 - link

    I amd going to make the argument that evaluating only one version of Linux in this type of situation is not a good idea in and of itself. Not to knock Gentoo directly, it is a fine distro to itself, but it has a very small slice of the Linux market. It would have made more sense for Anandtech to have benchmarked using other distrobution types for a couple of reasons.

    The first reason is the ability to duplicate the tests. This is actually a strike against Gentoo for what the operating system is. While it possible to duplicate an installation of Gentoo and the applications used, generating an exact copy of the exact configuration used without clear description of the compile targets used is very hard. This means that anybody wishing to reproduce these results on their own will be very hard-pressed to do so.

    The second reason is commercial and residential use. Gentoo has it's market, that market just isn't very widespread. It would have made more sense for Anandtech to have tested a RPM based distro such as Mandriva, RedHat, Fedora Core, Novell Suse, or OpenSuse against a .deb based distro such as Debian(sid), Ubuntu, Mepis, or Xandros. The reason why it would have made more sense is that .deb and .rpm distros are actually used in the commercial and residential spheres, and used in great quantities. Had Anandtech used a distrobution that is in active use it would mean more to buyers currently looking to replace their Windows computers with a new system.

    It would only be in the interests in providing a point of perspective that one would test a different type of Linux distrobution like Gentoo or Slackware.

    Going back to the first point, had Anandtech benchmarked these on a Debian based system it would be fairly easy to duplicate the tests. Anandtech would just need to list the base version of the Debian distro they used, list the apt-repositories they pulled from, and the application in apt that were pulled. Anybody else who comes along afterwords with a Debian based distro would easily be able to duplicate the steps and the benchmarks.

    The overall point is that while it is nice to see a non-dedicated Linux site approaching hardware, this isn't the way to approach it. As it stands now, the Anandtech tests are useless, reguardless of whatever results the benchmarks returned.
    Reply
  • BasMSI - Thursday, June 08, 2006 - link

    These tests are also 100% useless.....
    The MSI K2-102 is numa aware....
    But for some reason the K8N-Master isn't shown in the graphs....that board is NOT NUMA aware.
    I'm also missing the HP server everywhere in the graphs.

    I realy believe all these tests are done on the K8N-Master board for all Opteron tests.
    No way the graphs are showing all the systems.

    These tests are a total fraude, letting us believe Intel all of a sudden became that fast.
    No way on earth I believe any of these results.

    Also, why using Gentoo? Why not Debian 64bit?
    This puzzles me, as Gentoo is compiled but not known to be faster on every system.
    Why not using precompiled Linuxes? Like Debian 64bit....that one is stable as hell and incredible fast!
    Too much parameters missing here to get any judgement at all.
    Do it better, this is 100% rubbish.

    Bas.

    Reply

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