The launch of the Athlon MP was a bittersweet victory for AMD just under two years ago. AMD was able to deliver performance that was significantly faster than Intel’s brand new Xeon, but despite performance leadership, the CPU never really took off.

AMD had limited success in the server market with the Athlon MP, with most of their sales going to HPC customers for large clusters, but very few sales in the web and database server arenas. With no Tier 1 OEMs supporting the platform, most of the larger IT firms wouldn’t touch the Athlon MP with a 10-foot pole, so Intel enjoyed uninterrupted dominance in the web/database server markets.

By the end of the Athlon MP’s life, Intel’s performance had improved significantly to the point where AMD no longer held a performance advantage (although their usual low cost was a factor), further reducing any reason to pursue Athlon MP based servers.

The launch of the Opteron processor gave AMD a much needed breath of new life and energy, especially with the announcement that IBM would be producing servers based on the new Opteron platform. Unfortunately, IBM’s designs are, once again, targeted at the HPC market and left the web and database servers for Intel and IBM processors to handle.

More recently, Sun announced support for the Opteron in their 2004 product line, but again, it is on the shoulders of the 2nd and 3rd tier manufacturers to provide Opteron solutions for web and database serving applications. But before there can be a demand, there must be some information on the performance of the Opteron in these sorts of applications.

We’ve already seen how the Opteron can perform in most computation-intensive applications as well as workstation applications, but what about as a web server? Or a database server? In our original coverage of AMD’s Opteron, we offered some performance analysis of both web and database server applications with the Opteron, but AMD has made a couple of steps recently to warrant a second look at the performance picture.

First and foremost, the launch of 4-way Opteron platforms has made many of our IT readers (and us included) wonder how a 4-way Opteron would stack up against a 4-way Xeon MP box. With AMD’s more scalable Opteron architecture, any performance advantages a 2-way Opteron had over a 4-way Xeon should, in theory, be greater.

AMD has also recently launched higher clock speed versions of the Opteron at 2.2GHz, equal in speed to the fastest Athlon 64 FX currently available.

But quite possibly one of the biggest reasons for this comparison is that we’ve been looking internally to upgrade our server platforms from the aging Athlon MPs and needed to evaluate the Opteron as a potential upgrade path.

Since we last wrote about our server upgrades at AnandTech, we added a 2-way Xeon DP 2.8GHz server with Hyper-Threading and were pleasantly surprised with the performance offered by the platform. We have also spent a great deal of time looking at 4-way solutions for a potential upgrade to our database servers, also requiring a more in-depth look at the latest in Opteron offerings.

We have more than just this one article to bring to you the full spectrum of Opteron performance; but to kick it all off, we’re going to look at web serving performance in a head-to-head match between the Opteron and Xeon.

We’re not going to rehash any of the Opteron’s architecture in this article, so make sure that you’ve read our Intro to Opteron/K8 Architecture before proceeding.

AMD Updates their 2xx Series


View All Comments

  • Superbike - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    CRAMITPAL right as always! Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    You'd think some people here have a huge investment in AMD the way they touch their balls every time AMD comes out ahead in a benchmark.

    Anyway, it's nice to see some benchmarks that clearly show what AMD processors are capable of... only other thing I'd like to see is the cost of the configurations used. That would even extend AMD's "lead."
  • morcegovermelho - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    The last sentence should be read as:
    try in calculator 141 + 82.3%. The result is 257,043.
  • morcegovermelho - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    "The Opteron 248 setup managed to outperform Intel’s fastest, largest cache Xeon MP by a whopping 45%"
    I think the number should be 82,3%.
    If the Opteron was twice as fast (100% faster) as the Xeon the Average Request Time would be half of 257ms (128.5ms). The Opteron Average Request Time is 141ms (82% faster than Xeon).
    Try in calculator: 141 + 82%. The result is 257,043.
  • Shinei - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    The message is clear: Opteron wins, flawless victory. Now if only I could AFFORD a 248 setup... ;) Reply
  • RZaakir - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    "it would of been nice to have taken out a singnal(sic) opteron also so(sic) see 1x proformance."

    Knowing how well Opteron chips scale, this was probably a decision made out of mercy for Intel.
  • Nehemoth - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    Awesome Reply
  • dvinnen - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    it would of been nice to have taken out a singnal opteron also so see 1x proformance. Reply
  • jerkweed - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    Quote: Intel was not very receptive to the idea of doing a head-to-head; not out of a fear of losing, but out of a desire not to lend AMD any credibility by showing that the Opteron is indeed a competitor to the Itanium 2.

    That might be what Intel told AT, but honestly, Intel is terrified of seeing a head-to-head benchmark for an application like this. Itanium/Itanium 2 (known by most HPC/64-bit gearheads as 'Itanic') will show numbers much slower than even their Xeons for a web benchmark. The vast majority of all web-server cpu usage is INT specific... look at the numbers for spec INT yourself:
  • Falco. - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    all i can say is damn...
    can't wait for that 4 way shootout and the opteron vs itanium test ...


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