If the Westmere Xeon EP were a car engine, it would've been made by Porsche. With "only" six cores, each core in the new Xeon offers almost twice the performance of the competition. A 32nm CPU that only occupies 248 mm2 the Westmere Xeon EP embodies pure refinement and intelligent performance, both Porsche traits. It's just made in Portland, not Zuffenhausen.

AMD's offering today is very different. Magny-cours is the CPU version of the American muscle car. It's a brutally large 12-core CPU: two dies, each measuring 346mm2 connected by a massive 24 link Hyper Transport pipe. AMD's Magny-cours Opteron has almost two billion transistors and 19.6MB of cache on-die.


12 cores, 692 mm2 die, 19.6MB of cache on-die

It's not all raw horsepower though. At 2.2GHz this 12-core monster is supposed to be content with only 80 precious watts, and 115W at most. HT assist also makes an appearance to keep CPU-CPU accesses to a necessary minimum, a problem that could get out of hand with 12 cores otherwise. AMD originally added HT assist with its first 6-core Opterons. So Magny-Cours is a like hybrid V12 Dodge Viper with traction control. Will this cocktail of raw core muscle and energy savings be enough to beat the competitor from Portland?

For once we could not resist the temptations of car analogies. As interesting as we found the Xeon Westmere EP, something was missing: a challenger, a competitor to make things more exiting.  In the last review, we just knew that the Xeon X5670 would crush the competition. This time is going to be close. AMD still won’t have a chance if your application does not scale well with extra cores. In that case you are better off with the higher clocked and better per-core performance of the Intel CPUs. But it is unclear if Intel will prevail in truly multi-threaded software now that a grim and determined AMD is willing to offer two CPUs for the price of one just to win the race.  

Magny-Cours
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  • Cogman - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - link

    It should be noted that newer nehelam based processors have specific AES encryption instructions. The benchmark where the xeon blows everything out of the water is likely utilizing that instruction set (though, AFAIK not many real-world applications do) Reply
  • Hector1 - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - link

    I read that Intel is expected to launch the 8-core Nehalem EX today. It'll be interesting to compare it against the 12-core Magny Cours. Both are on a 45nm process. Reply
  • spoman - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - link

    You stated "... that kind of bandwidth is not attainable, not even in theory because the next link in the chain, the Northbridge ...".

    How does the Northbridge affect memory BW if the memory is connected directly to the processor?
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Depending on your definition, the nortbridge is in the CPU. AMD uses "northbride" in its own slides to refer to the part where the memory controller etc. resides. Reply
  • Pari_Rajaram - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - link

    Why don't you add STREAM and LINPACK to your benchmark suites? These are very important benchmarks for HPC.


    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Stream... in the review. Reply
  • piooreq - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Hi Johan,
    For last few days I did several tests with Swingbench CC with similar database configuration but I achieved a bit different results, I’m just wondering what exactly settings you put for CC test itself. I mean about when you generate schema and data for that test? Thanks for answer.
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, April 01, 2010 - link

    Your question is not completely clear to me. What is the info you would like? You can e-mail if you like at johanATthiswebsitePointcom Reply
  • zarjad - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Can't figure out if hyperthreading were enabled on Intels. Particularly interested in virtualization benchmark with hyperthreading both enabled and disabled. Also of interest would be an Office benchmark with a bunch of small VMs (1.5 to 2GB) to simulate VDI configuration. Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, April 01, 2010 - link

    Hyperthreading is always on. But we will follow up on that. A VDI based hypervisor tests is however not immediately on the horizon. The people of the VRC project might do that though. Google on the VRC project.

    Reply

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