Pricing

Pricing steers most of the purchasing decisions so let's look at how the best server CPUs from Intel and AMD compare. We compare the 45nm "Nehalem" Xeon with the 45nm "Shanghai" Opteron.

Pricing
Intel Xeon model Speed (GHz) / TDP (W) Price AMD Opteron model Speed (GHz) Price
X5570 2.93 / 95W $1386      
X5560 2.80 / 95 W $1172      
X5550 2.66 / 95W $958 2389 2.9 / 75-115W $989
      2387 2.8 / 75W $873
E5540 2.53 / 80W $744 2384 2.7 / 75-115W $698
E5530 2.4 / 80W $530 2382 2.6 / 75-115W $523
L5520 2.26 / 60W $530 2376 HE 2.3 / 55-79W $575
L5510 2.13/ 60W $423 2374 HE 2.2 / 55-79W $450
E5520 2.26 $373 2380 2.5 / 75-115W $377
E5506 2.13 $266 2378 2.4 / 75-115W $255
E5504 2 $224      
E5502 1.86 $188 2376 2.3 / 75-115W $174

A few interesting observations can be made. First, AMD's 45nm process is a lot healthier than the 65nm process. Only a few months after the introduction of a 2.7GHz part, AMD is not only capable of boosting the clock speed to 2.9GHz but it does so without increasing the TDP. It is also interesting that AMD CPUs are covering a very narrow clock speed band at 75W from 2.4GHz to 2.9GHz. This indicates that AMD is really getting some good clock speeds out of the 45nm CPUs. This is a huge contrast with what we saw in 2007 and the first half of 2008. We were used to seeing AMD stuck at 2.3GHz, and those clock speeds are now all low energy parts.

AMD recognizes that Intel has the faster micro architecture and positions the 2.9GHz Shanghai at the level of the X5550. Intel is untouchable at the high-end but leaves AMD some chances at the low end. It positions a 1.86GHz without any Hyper-Threading or Turbo mode against a 2.3GHz chip. Unfortunately, those chips are not in our lab so we can't draw any conclusions.

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  • gwolfman - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Why was this article pulled yesterday after it first posted? Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Because the NDA date was noon in the pacific zone and not CET. We were slightly too early... Reply
  • yasbane - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Hi Johan,

    Any chance of some more comprehensive Linux benchmarks? Haven't seen any on IT Anandtech for a while.

    cheers
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Yes, we are working on that. Our first Oracle testing is finished on the AMD's platform, but still working on the rest.

    Mind you, all our articles so far have included Linux benchmarking. All mysql testing for example, Stream, Specjbb and Linpack.
    Reply
  • Exar3342 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the extremely informative and interesting review Johan. I am definitely looking forward to more server reviews; are the 4-way CPUs out later this year? That will be interesting as well. Reply
  • Exar3342 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Forgot to mention that I was suprised HT has such an impact that it did in some of the benches. It made some huge differences in certain applications, and slightly hindered it in others. Overall, I can see why Intel wanted to bring back SMT for the Nehalem architecture. Reply
  • duploxxx - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    awesome performance, but would like to see how the intel 5510-20-30 fare against the amd 2378-80-82 after all that is the same price range.

    It was the same with woodcrest and conroe launch, everybody saw huge performance lead but then only bought the very slow versions.... then the question is what is still the best value performance/price/power.

    Istanbul better come faster for amd, how it looks now with decent 45nm power consumption it will be able to bring some battle to high-end 55xx versions.
    Reply
  • eryco - Tuesday, April 14, 2009 - link

    Very informative article... I would also be interested in seeing how any of the midrange 5520/30 Xeons compare to the 2382/84 Opterons. Especially now that some vendors are giving discounts on the AMD-based servers, the premium for a server with X5550/60/70s is even bigger. It would be interesting to see how the performance scales for the Nehalem Xeons, and how it compares to Shanghai Opterons in the same price range. We're looking to acquire some new servers and we can afford 2P systems with 2384s, but on the Intel side we can only go as far as E5530s. Unfortunately there's no performance data for Xeons in the midrange anywhere online so we can make a comparison. Reply
  • haplo602 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    I only skimmed the graphs, but how about some consistency ? some of the graphs feature only dual core opterons, some have a mix of dual and quad core ... pricing chart also features only dual core opterons ...

    looking just at the graphs, I cannot make any conclusion ...
    Reply
  • TA152H - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Part of the problem with the 54xx CPUs is not the CPUs themselves, but the FB-DIMMS. Part of the big improvement for the Nehalem in the server world is because Intel sodomized their 54xx platform, for reasons that escape most people, with the FB-DIMMs. But, it's really not mentioned except with regards to power. If the IMC (which is not an AMD innovation by the way, it's been done many times before they did it, even on the x86 by NexGen, a company they later bought) is so important, then surely the FB-DIMMs are. They both are related to the same issue - memory latency.

    It's not really important though, since that's what you'd get if you bought the Intel 54xx; it's more of an academic complaint. But, I'd like to see the Nehalem tested with dual channel memory, which is a real issue. The reason being, it has lower latency while only using two channels, and for some benchmarks, certainly not all or even the majority, you might see better performance by using two (or maybe it never happens). If you're running a specific application that runs better using dual channel, it would be good to know.

    Overall, though, a very good article. The first thing I mention is a nitpick, the second may not even matter if three channel performance is always better.
    Reply

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