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


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  • Pandaren - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    cramitpal, speaking as an advocate of the k8 architecture, I have to say that you are acting like an asshat. cut the holy jihad crap and jerry falwell flaming - frankly you sound like a Steve Jobs worshiper or a Linux-happy script kiddie.

    k8 is a nice architecture for servers. it has been clear to me for some time that intel designed netburst for multimedia applications, and this emphasis has hurt netburst Xeons ever since the days of the Willamette (anyone remember the Willamette based Xeons getting matched or beaten by Pentium III based Xeons?)
  • PaperclipGod - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    I really enjoyed this article. Very well written. Looking forward to the Itanium 2 comparison. Reply
  • CRAMITPAL - Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - link

    What a humbling experience for Intel... Results mirror other website tests of the latest and greatest Xeon w/L3 cache. AMD just HAMMERS Intel's Xeon into the ground.

    You would think Intel would be anxious to provide a 2P Itanic for comparison, wouldn't you??? Do you think Intel is afraid enterprise will realize that Opteron can provide Itanic 64-bit performance, and superior 32-bit performance for tens of thousands less??? The clowns in Satan Clara must STILL think the World is full of sheep! This review should make the Intel fanboys go POSTAL again.

    SOS same dumbass Intel fanboys. Maybe these confused fanboys are actually Intel SpinMeisters looking to keep their jobs as Intel's sales and market share diminish???

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