Introduction

A "Simulated 2.6GHz" AMD quad-core would beat the best Intel Xeon by 42%, or so we were told back in March at CeBIT. AMD's latest is a device with 463 million transistors designed to run at a clock speed of at least 2.2GHz, possibly 2.8GHz. Scheduled for launch in the middle of 2007, Intel's best Xeons would be once again in the rearview mirror of their AMD competitors. AMD's third generation Opteron sure looked very promising back in early spring 2007.

June, July, and August went by, but still no Barcelona, and when the news started to trickle in that AMD's newest quad-core would only reach 2GHz, AMD's future didn't look so bright anymore. It became even worse as the launch date and details of the newest 45nm Xeons popped up on a public webpage for resellers: November the 11th. New Xeons at clock speed up to 3.16GHz are thus only a few months away. "Not so bright" turned into "grim" - even "dark, really dark".


Luckily, today is the launch of AMD's third generation Opterons. It's only at 2GHz right now, but it's packed with many clever tricks to improve the number of instructions per cycle (IPC). There's also a surprise in store: 2.5GHz samples are already in the AnandTech lab, and they will be available to everyone in the fourth quarter. So there is a chance we still are going to experience an old fashioned breakneck race; a heated battle of epic proportions between AMD and Intel for the top spot in the server market. However, this will only occur if AMD's newest quad-core is able to outperform the Intel alternatives clock for clock by a decent margin. Read on to see whether AMD has been able to pull that one off...

Before we start, here are a few important notes on our testing. We were only given a few days with the newest quad-core before the NDA was finished. As a result our server benchmarking is only a preview, and we'll follow up with more details in the near future. Also, instead of repeating all of AMD's improvements to the core again, we'll simply refer to our previous article about Barcelona's architecture. We'll discuss these architectural improvements further together with the relevant benchmarks.

Finally, for those that are wondering what happens if you pick up a quad-core Opteron server and try to use it as a desktop (or just a hardware editor looking to predict Phenom performance as best as we're able), Anand has put together an AMD Phenom Preview where he does exactly that. Getting the GeForce 8800 GTX into a server chassis took some work, and the focus is on K8 versus Barcelona performance scaling, but the results might give a decent indication of where Phenom X4 will land in a couple months.

AMD's Newest Quad-Core
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  • erikejw - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    I take back what I said.
    I mixed up 3 different reviews that does not correlate and is not comparable.
    I did not realize that until now even though I looked at them again.
    Optimizations put off on AMD processors was just hearsay and likely with the results presented but since I was wrong about the results that part is probably wrong too.
    So now everything I have to say is, great article :)

    Now I look forward to the tests with the 2.5GHz part and some overclock on it to see what a 2.8 or even a 3GHz part would do.
    Reply
  • kalyanakrishna - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    Sorry ... with all the discussion, your methodology is incomplete and leading to a biased result. Maybe there is code that is optimized for Intel processor - but the focus of the article is performance - thats what you intended it to be ... if not, please redo the article, change your deductions and focus it on code compatibility. No one measuring performance on their systems will use Intel Xeon optimized code on AMD processors. There are bunch of other compilers and performance libraries available. If not, please use a compiler that WILL optimize for both - pathscale, gcc and more ...

    I agree with your processor frequency aspect ... however, neither did Intel have a high speed freq on the launch date. The way it should have been presented is "at same frequency ... there is not much difference in performance" "at higher clocks, Intel does have advantage that comes at a price" Is this the same deduction you brought out in your article? Far from it ... do you concur?

    And your reasoning that you didnt have time to optimize the code is not acceptable. What was the point of this article - throw out some incomplete article on the day of the launch so everyone doesnt think AnandTech doesnt have a comment on Barcelona or maintain your high standards and put out a well written, mature and complete article based on results based from a rock solid testing methodology with critical analysis?

    The article was leaning towards a dramatic touch than presenting a neutral analysis. And, please stop saying Linpack is Intel friendly. The code is NOT, the way you compiled it is optimized for LinPack!! There is a HUGE difference. A code can only be Intel "friendly" when it is written with special attention to make sure it fully exploits all the features that Xeon has to offer and not necessarily by any other processors. And, if you do read my email to you - you will notice my stand on that point and lot more.


    So, I kindly request you to immediately take down this article with a correction or redo your article and change the focus. Maybe you had a different idea in your mind when writing it ... but the way it was written is not what you said you wanted it to be. All the comments you made now are not brought out in the article.

    Thank you for your time.
    Reply
  • kalyanakrishna - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    And of course, we didnt even get to the point where the test setup says "BIOS Note: Hardware prefetcing turned off" but in your analysis section it says
    "but masterly optimization together with hardware prefetching ensures most of the data is already in the cache. The quad-core Xeon wins again, but the victory is a bit smaller: the advantage is 20%-23%."

    That says enough about the completeness and accuracy of your article. The article is full of superlatives like masterly, meticulous to describe Intel processors. The bias cant be any more blatant.

    Now, will you please take it down and stop spreading the wrong message!!! There is nothing wrong in saying it was an incomplete article and in the interests of accuracy we would like to retract our claims!! Stop sending the wrong message to your huge reader base and influence their opinion of a potentially good product!
    Reply
  • fitten - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    Potentially... but not yet a good product, IMO. Hopefully AMD will have another stepping out sometime by the end of the year that may actually be competitive. As of right now, Barcelona isn't competitive with Intel offerings. The problem is that the target is moving as Intel will be releasing new chips by the end of the year.

    As far as Intel compilers are concerned, you do realize that Intel's compilers are better than GCC (which is NOT known for agressive optimizations and stellar performance) and are downloadable from their site. Code compiled with Intel compilers tends to execute faster on both Intel and AMD processors than code compiled with GCC in many cases.

    As far as accuracy of the various reviews... it's AMD's fault for getting only a few systems to a few reviewers only 48 hours before the launch date. I believe this was intentional in order to delay any thorough testing of Barcelona in the short term. Plus, there's the whole bit about AMD requiring that reviewers submit reviews to AMD for sanitizing before publishing them, as well. I'm quite convinced that AMD knew (and knows) that Barcelona is a turd and are just trying to buy time by various nefarious methods so that they can have a little more time to get their act together. If it weren't for investors and the world pushing AMD to actually release on their (much delayed) launch date, I'm quite sure AMD would have rather waited a few months so they'd have a better stepping to debut.
    Reply
  • kalyanakrishna - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    This is exactly what I am talking about ... see the comments on Digg:

    quote:

    And it's not looking pretty. Roughly same performance as the 2.33GHz Xeon in single and dual socket configurations; faster in some, slower in most, slightly less power consumption. We waited 18 months for this?!?


    http://www.digg.com/hardware/Finally_AMD_s_Barcelo...">http://www.digg.com/hardware/Finally_AMD_s_Barcelo...

    Now, please retract your observations.
    Reply
  • kalyanakrishna - Wednesday, September 12, 2007 - link

    Johan,

    Comment by swindelljd below ...
    quote:

    I'm trying to use the Anandtech benchmarks to help project how much performance gain we'll see in a new machine.


    I believe you underestimated the impact your article has on purchasing decisions of the customers. :)

    I hope customers do continue to look at AnandTech as a source of impartial, genuine and correct data on performance of new technologies.

    As Spiderman's uncle would say "With great power, comes great responsibility". :) :)
    Reply
  • swindelljd - Thursday, September 13, 2007 - link

    Yes, I would say anandtech.com has the most comprehensive, thoughtful, well organized, un-biased and current analysis of any site/content that currently exists. Many other sites even reference or simply use anandtech.com's analysis barely augmenting with their own.

    I have definitely used them in the past for both personal purchases (enthusiast OC'ing) and business purchases of my production hardware environment. In each case I've used multiple sources but always find myself returning to anandtech.com.

    I'd hate to see them delay the release of an article just because there was "just one more test to run". Like many things in life, sometimes it's more important to simply work with the information at hand (even if not quite complete) than to wait to make a decision. Some might call that "analysis-paralysis".

    Ultimately it's up to me when making purchasing decisions to weigh all the information and consider how much issues such as you pointed out regarding "not quite complete" analysis would impact a real world scenario.

    I applaud anandtech.com for all the work they do (and the LONG hours they must put in) in quantifying what in some cases is unquantifiable.

    Now back to my original question - why do the Woodcrest/MySQL benchmarks taken approx 14 months apart vary by so much and for the worse? Did the benchmark used change or am I just misreading the benchmark?

    thanks,
    John



    Reply
  • kalyanakrishna - Thursday, September 13, 2007 - link

    John,

    Its great that you trust the site content so much. I know many people who do. That is why I was shocked to see the shortcomings in the article ... most of which are, I must say, basic to some extent.

    I myself have been reading the site since many years and I know many colleagues who refer this site for just about anything ... hence my stand that they realize the importance of their work and publishings.

    Maybe its your fondness for the site ... but the specific comments I made are very important and do affect real world results. For any one looking to make a cluster or build an HPC system - thats their real world. Just like database performance is real world to you.

    Just to make it explicit... its not a flame war or anything like that ... it is to make sure that the data is correct and a relevant comparison is made.

    thanks.
    Reply
  • flyck - Tuesday, September 11, 2007 - link

    quote:

    It not wrong. It is incomplete and we admit that more than once. But considering AMD gaves us a few days before the NDA was over, it was impossible to cover all angles


    When will there be an update available? :).
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Monday, September 10, 2007 - link

    quote:

    1) they choose faster Intel processors, 2 GHz Opteron. There are 2 GHz processors available across all the processors used in this analysis.


    2 GHz Intel's were not available to us. And considering AMD's pricepoints, a 2 GHz Opteron 2350 are targetting 2.33 GHz Xeons. It is fairly accepted that AMD has to lure customers with a small price advantage.

    quote:

    And this gentleman used Intel optimized code on AMD to test performance. Who in the right mind measuring performance would do that?


    Because there is a lot Intel optimized code out there? Do you deny that there are developers out there that use the Intel MKL?



    Reply

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