• What
    is this?
    You've landed on the AMD Portal on AnandTech. This section is sponsored by AMD. It features a collection of all of our independent AMD content, as well as Tweets & News from AMD directly. AMD will also be running a couple of huge giveaways here so check back for those.
    PRESENTED BY

Conclusions

To help summarize the current situation in the server CPU market, we have drawn up a comparison table of the performance we have measured so far. We'll compare the new Interlagos Opteron 6276 against the outgoing Opteron 6174 as well as teh Xeon X5650.

  Opteron 6276 vs.
Opteron 6174
Opteron 6276 vs.
Xeon X5650
ESXi + Linux -1% -2%
ESXi + Windows = +3%
Cinebench +2% +9%
3DS Max 2012 (iRay) -9% to + 4% -10% to +3%
Maxwell Render +4% +6%
Blender -4% -24%
Encryption/Decryption AES +265% / +275% +2% / +7%
Encryption/Decryption Twofish/Serpent +25% / +25% 31% / 46%
Compression/decompression +10% / +10% -33%/ +22%

Let us first discuss the virtualization scene, the most important market. Unfortunately, with the current power management in ESXi, we are not satisfied with the Performance/watt ratio of the Opteron 6276. The Xeon needs up to 25% less energy and performs slightly better. So if performance/watt is your first priority, we think the current Xeons are your best option.

The Opteron 6276 offers a better performance per dollar ratio. It delivers the performance of $1000 Xeon (X5650) at $800. Add to this that the G34 based servers are typically less expensive than their Intel LGA 1366 counterparts and the price bonus for the new Opteron grows. If performance/dollar is your first priority, we think the Opteron 6276 is an attractive alternative.

And then there is Windows Server 2008 R2. Typically we found that under heavy load (benchmarking at 85-100% CPU load) the power consumption was between 3% (integer) to 7% (FP) higher on the Opteron 6276 than on the Xeons and Opteron 6100, a lot better than under ESXi. Add to this the fact that the new Opteron energy usage at low load is excellent and you understand that we feel that there is no reason to go for the Opteron 6100 anymore. Again, AMD still understands that it should price its CPUs more attractive than the competition, so from the price/performance/watt point of view, the Opteron 6276 is a good cost effective alternative to the Xeon...on the condition that you enable the "high performance" policy and that AMD keeps the price delta the same in the coming months.

That is the good news. We cannot help but to feel a bit disappointed too. AMD promised us (in 2009/2010) that the Opteron 6200 would be significantly faster than the 6100: "unprecedented server performance gains". That is somewhat the case if you recompile your software with the latest and greatest optimized compiler as AMD's own SPEC CINT (+19%), CFP 2006 (+11%) and Linpack benchmarks (+32%) show.

One of the real advantages of a new processor architecture (prime examples where the K7 and K8) is if it performs well in older software too, without requiring a recompile. For some people of the HPC world, recompiling is acceptable and common, but for everybody else (that is probably >95% of the market!), it's best if existing binaries run faster. Administrators generally are not going to upgrade and recompile their software just to make better use of a new server CPU. Hopefully AMD's engineers have been looking into improving the legacy software performance of their latest chip the last few months, because it could use some help.

On the other side of the coin, it is clear that some of the excellent features of the new Opteron are not leveraged by the current software base. The deeper sleep and more advanced core gating is not working to its full potential, and the current operating systems frequently don't appear to know how to get the best from Turbo Core. The clock can be boosted by 39% when half of the cores are active, but an 18% boost was the best we saw (in a single-threaded app!). Simply turning the right knobs gave some tangible power savings (see ESXi) and some impressive performance improvements (see Windows Server 2008).

In short, we're going to need to do some additional testing and take this server out for another test drive, and we will. Stay tuned for a follow-up article as we investigate other options for improving performance.

Other Tests: TrueCrypt and 7-Zip
POST A COMMENT

106 Comments

View All Comments

  • Kevin G - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I'm curious if CPU-Z polls the hardware for this information or if it queries a database to fetch this information. If it is getting the core and thread count from hardware, it maybe configurable. So while the chip itself does not use Hyperthreading, it maybe reporting to the OS that does it by default. This would have an impact in performance scaling as well as power consumption as load increases. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    They are integer cores, which share few ressources besides the FPU. On the Intel side there are two threads running concurrently (always, @Stuka87) which share a few less ressources.

    Arguing which one deserves the name "core" and which one doesn't is almost a moot point. However, both designs are nto that different regarding integer workloads. They're just using a different amount of shared ressources.

    People should also keep in mind that a core does not neccessaril equal a core. Each Bulldozer core (or half module) is actually weaker than in Athlon 64 designs. It got some improvements but lost in some other areas. On the other hand Intels current integer cores are quite strong and fat - and it's much easier to share ressources (between 2 hyperthreaded treads) if you've got a lot of them.

    MrS
    Reply
  • leexgx - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    but on Intel side there are only 4 real cores with HT off or on (on an i7 920 seems to give an benefit, but on results for the second gen 2600k HT seems less important)

    where as on amd there are 4 cores with each core having 2 FP in them (desktop cpu) issue is the FPs are 10-30% slower then an Phenom cpu clocked at the same speed
    Reply
  • anglesmith - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    which version of windows 2008 R2 SP1 x64 was used enterprise/datacenter/standard? Reply
  • Lord 666 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    People who are purchasing SB-E will be doing similar stuff on workstations. Where are those numbers? Reply
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Probably waiting in the pipeline for SB-E base Xeons. Socket LGA-2011 based Xeon's are still several months away. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I'm not so sure I'd fault AMD too much because 95% of the people that their product users, in this case, won't go through the effort of upgrading their software to get a significant performance increase, at least at first. Sometimes, you have to "force" people to get out of their rut and use something that's actually better for them.

    I freely admit that I don't know much about running business apps; I build gaming computers for personal use. I can't help but think of my Father though, complaining about Vista and Win 7 and how they won't run his old, freeware apps properly. Hey, Dad, get the people that wrote those apps to upgrade them, won't you? It's not Microsoft's fault that they won't bring them up to date.

    Backwards compatibility can be a stone around the neck of progress.

    I've tended to be disappointed in AMD's recent CPU releases as well, but maybe they really do have an eye focused on the future that will bring better things for us all. If that's the case, though, they need to prove it now, and stop releasing biased press reports that don't hold up when these things are benched outside of their labs.

    ;)
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    The problem is that a lot of server folks buy new servers to run the current or older software faster. It is a matter of TCO: they have invested a lot of work into getting webapplication x.xx to work optimally with interface y.yy and database zz.z. The vendor wants to offer a service, not a the latest technology. Only if the service gets added value from the newest technology they might consider upgrading.

    And you should tell your dad to run his old software in virtual box :-).
    Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    Ah I hadn't thought of it in terms of services, which is obvious now that you say it. Thanks for educating me!

    ;)
    Reply
  • IlllI - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    amd was shooting to capture 25% of the market? (this was like when the first amd64 chips came out) Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now