First Round K.O.

We measured performance using two metrics: the average time it took to fulfill a request to the web server, and the total number of templates (pages) served by the web server during the 30-minute test period. The two numbers are related, but both are useful to look at in order to get an idea of the real world difference in performance between the platforms.

All of our tests were done on dual processor configurations. So, to make the charts easier to read, we omitted any 2-way labeling on the CPU names themselves.

Frankly, we were shocked when we saw the first performance results, and we ran and re-ran them to make sure our numbers were correct. In the end, they were.

The Opteron 248 setup managed to outperform Intel’s fastest, largest cache Xeon MP by a whopping 45%. Boasting 141 ms request times, the Opteron 248 system was 12% faster than the Opteron 244 setup, indicating very good scaling with clock speed — a 50% increase in performance for every 100% increase in clock speed.

It is widely known that the Opteron and Xeon should not be compared on a clock for clock basis, but with the 2.0GHz Xeon MP being the fastest Xeon MP available just about a year ago, it is interesting to note the performance advantage AMD can offer over aging Intel systems.

You don’t even have to go for the top-of-the-line Opteron system in order to achieve performance greater than an Intel Xeon platform; although not depicted here, even the Opteron 240 should be able to be, at least, as fast as the 2.8GHz Xeon MP.

Intel’s 533MHz FSB Xeon 3.20GHz with its 1MB L2 cache may be a better match for the Opteron, but it is going to take much more than a 400MHz increase in clock speed to close the 45% performance gap that exists here. These Xeon parts are hard to come by and we’d love to re-run the tests with the new 3.2GHz parts (although they have smaller caches, the extra clock speed and faster FSB should help performance a bit) to see how they stack up.

Here, you can see the real-world performance advantages from another angle. Instead of looking at it as how much more responsive the Opteron server was, look at it from a standpoint of how many more people were able to access the site being hosted.

The performance, once again, speaks for itself. Just as the Athlon MP was a leader in web and database serving performance, the Opteron carries the torch for AMD this time around.

Keep in mind that web and database server applications are very sensitive to memory performance. So, although the Xeon attempts to hide larger memory access latencies with its 2MB L3 cache, the Opteron’s on-die memory controller helps improve performance significantly. The Opteron’s TLB optimizations work alongside the on-die memory controller to ensure that accesses to main memory (which will happen more frequently on the Opteron than on the Xeon because of the absence of any L3 cache) occur as quickly as possible.

The Test Final Words


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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