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

  • UberApfel - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    If anyone finds me a madman; let me explain this simply by example. Benchmark choices aside...

    If this test were to compare any of the top or middle-tier processors on the "AMD vs. Intel 2-socket SKU Comparison" chart ( http://www.anandtech.com/show/5058/amds-opteron-in... ) with their matching competition; this article would tell a different story in essence. Which does in fact, regardless of how fair the written conclusion may be, makes it biased.

    Examples:
    X5650 vs 6282 SE
    E5649 vs 6276
    E5645 vs 6272
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    "Yet handpicking the higher clocked Opteron 6276 (for what good reason?) seems to be nothing but an aim to make the new 6200 series seem un-remarkable in both power consumption and performance"

    Do you realize you are blaming AMD? That is the CPU they sent us.

    "The 6272 is cheaper, more common, and would beat the Xeon X5670 in power consumption which half this review is weighted on."

    The 6272 is nothing more than a lower speedbin of the 6276. It has the same power consumption but slightly lower performance. Performance/wat is thus worse.

    "PostgreSQL/SQLite? Facebook's HipHop? Node.js? Java? Something relevant to servers and not something obscure enough to sound professional? "

    We use Zimbra, Phpbb, Apache, MySQL. What is your point? that we don't include every server software on the planet? If you look around how many publications are running good repeatable server benchmarks? If it would be so easy as running Cinebench or Truecrypt, I think everybody would be.

    "Even the chart on Page 1 is designed to make Intel look superior all-around. For what reason would you exclude the Opteron 4274 HE (65W TDP) or the Opteron 4256 EE (35W TDP) from the 'Power Optimized' section?"

    To be honest, those CPUs were not even in AMD's presentation that we got. We were only briefed about Interlagos.
    Reply
  • UberApfel - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Did they send you the Xeon X5670 also? I suppose who's ever handling media relations at AMD is either careless or disgruntled. eg. Sending a slightly overclocked processor with a 30% staple that happens to scale unusually bad in terms of power efficiency.

    Please just answer this honestly; if you had compared a Opteron 6272 w/ a E5645 ... would your article present a different story?

    Fair as you may have tried to be; you don't have to look far to find a comment here that came to the "BD is a joke" conclusion.

    ---

    Using a phpbb stress test is hardly useful or relevent as a server benchmark; nevermind under a VM. Unless configured extensively; it's I/O bound. "Average Response Time" is also irrelevant; how is the reader to know if your 'response time' does not favor processors better with single-threaded applications?

    Additionally; VM's on a better single-threaded processor will score higher in benchmarks due to the overhead as parallelism isn't optimized. Yet these results make zero sense in real-world usage. It contradicts the value of VM's; flexible scalability for low-usage applications.

    Finally; I'd estimate that less than 5% of servers are virtual (if that). VM's are most popular with web servers and even there they have a small market share as they only appeal to small clients. Large clients use clusters of dedicated; tiny clients use shared dedicated.

    Did you even use gcc 4.7 or Open64? In some applications; the new versions yield up to 300% higher performance for Bulldozer.
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    "if you had compared a Opteron 6272 w/ a E5645 ... would your article present a different story?"

    You want us to compare a $551 80W TDP Intel cpu with a $774 115 AMD CPU?

    "Unless configured extensively; it's I/O bound."
    We know how to monitor with ESX top. There is a reason why we have a disk system of 2 SDDs and 6 x 15k SAS disks.

    "Average Response Time" is also irrelevant
    Huh? That is like saying that 0-60 mph acceleration times are irrelevant to sports cars.

    "Finally; I'd estimate that less than 5% of servers are virtual (if that)"
    ....Your estimate unfortunately was true in 2006. We are 2011 now. Your estimate is 10x off, maybe more.
    Reply
  • UberApfel - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    "You want us to compare a $551 80W TDP Intel cpu with a $774 115 AMD CPU?"
    $539

    "The 6272 is nothing more than a lower speedbin of the 6276. It has the same power consumption but slightly lower performance. Performance/wat is thus worse."
    By your logic; the FX-8120 and FX-8150 have equal power consumption. They don't.

    "We know how to monitor with ESX top. There is a reason why we have a disk system of 2 SDDs and 6 x 15k SAS disks."
    It's still I/O bound unless configured extensively.

    "Huh? That is like saying that 0-60 mph acceleration times are irrelevant to sports cars."
    Yeah; it is if you're measuring the distance traveled by a number of cars. The opteron is obviously slower in handling single requests but it can handle maybe twice as many at the same time. Unless your stress test made every request @ T=0 and your server successfully qued them all, dropped none, and included the que time in the response time... it would favor the xeon immensely. Perhaps it does do all this; which is why I said "how is the reader to know" when you could have just as easily done 'Average Requests Completed Per Second'.

    "....Your estimate unfortunately was true in 2006. We are 2011 now. Your estimate is 10x off, maybe more."
    Very funny. Did the salesman that told you that also recommend these benchmarks? Folklore tells that Google alone has over a million servers, 20X that of Rackspace or ThePlanet, and they aren't running queries on VM's.
    Reply
  • boomshine - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    I hope you included MS SQL 2008 performance just like in opteron 6174 review:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/2978/amd-s-12-core-m...
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    Yes, that test failed to be repeatable for some weird reason. We will publish it as soon as we get some reliable numbers out of it. Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    "SMT can only execute a single thread at once. "

    The whole point of SMT is to have one thread in one execution and another thread in the other execution slot.

    In fact, the very definition of SMT is that two or more threads can execute in parallel on a superscalar execution engine.
    Reply
  • TC2 - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    another joke from AMD with their BD "server-centric" architecture - bla-bla! amd 8\16 against intel 6\12 and again can't win! Reply
  • pcfxer - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    " make of lots of DLLs--or in Linux terms, they have more dependencies"

    Libraries is the word you're looking for.

    I also see the mistake of mixing programming APIs/OS design/Hardware design...

    Good software has TLBs, asynchronous locking where possible, etc, as does hardware but they are INDEPENDENT. The glue as you know, is how compiled code is treated at the uCode level. IMO, AMD hardware is fully capable of outperforming Intel hardware, but AMD uCode is incredibly good.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now