AMD got the attention of Microsoft with their 64-bit Athlon 64/Opteron platform, and it was enough attention to warrant a new OS port to x86-64. Just weeks ago AMD scored another victory, with Intel announcing the adoption of AMD's 64-bit extensions to x86.

Future Xeon and Pentium 4 processors will ship with the x86-64 extensions enabled but architecturally they will be identical to the currently available Prescott based Pentium 4. The architectural similarity between Intel's IA-32e ad IA-32 processors (IA-32e is Intel's marketing equivalent to AMD64) is an important point to note as it means that if Opteron is able to outperform Xeon in 32-bit mode, it will maintain a performance advantage in 64-bit mode as well. We are assuming that Intel has no specialized hardware to improve 64-bit performance over AMD's solution, so the Xeon vs. Opteron comparisons we've brought you in the 32-bit world should still hold true in the 64-bit world later this year.

There has been much editorializing about Intel's recent 64-bit announcement, and we'll add nothing more than this to it all: it's a very good thing that Intel has gone the x86-64 route, it will mean that we see software support, drivers and overall market acceptance sooner. We have AMD to thank for Intel's backing x86-64, which is a big feather in AMD's cap but if there's one thing to be said about business it's that there's no room for pride.

Intel made the right decision; they would be losing sales if they didn't adopt x86-64, leaving those who needed a 64-bit x86 solution no option other than Opteron. However Intel gives AMD nothing if they adopt x86-64 in their own CPUs; AMD's sales don't increase and remember what we said about pride in business.

We'll talk more about Intel's upcoming 64-bit Xeons (Nocona and Potomac) in the conclusion, but let's get to what we're all here to see today: AMD's Opteron and Intel's Xeon go head to head in a real-world database serving comparison.

We compared the two titans in our web serving tests late last year, where AMD left Intel in a cloud of dust. Now the stakes are much higher, can Intel's deeply pipelined architecture contend with AMD's server-grown Opteron?

A Confusing Market


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  • Blackbrrd - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Hmm... the site below has some info about Numa (non unified memory architecture), and it looks like the os you're using isn't Numa enabled... Is this correct? Is there any real world benefit from Numa with Opteron?
  • zarjad - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Could you speculate which way the advantage should be going in a BI benchmark (say TPC-H type of a test)? These are long running queries with gigabytes size tables. Reply
  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    We started playing around with a couple of mysql benchmarks a few weeks ago namely OSDB and some new multithreaded benchmarks from MySQL themselves. We're hoping to get some valid tests that produce real results in the future.

  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    In fact we did some recent testing to start out 64bit linux testing and mysql 4.0.17 on suse 64 had a segmentation fault starting <WINK> known issue for mysql as well... <WINK> <WINK> Reply
  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Steveoc, it hardly runs like a dog. Let's not turn this into a one sided os war :) The test make sense as they are, but a 64bit article is on the books for later. We've already been playing around with Suse 64bit and some others and whether you agree or not 64bit is still immature, period full stop. Support is there but it has some maturing to do. Reply
  • steveoc - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    All these tests show is that Opteron, running Windows, runs like a Dog. As if we couldnt predict that result already ...

    The tests will only make sense once you are running 64bit linux. In fact, Id love to see a test of Dual Xeon + Win2003 + MSSQL vs Dual Opteron + 64bit Gentoo + 64bit MySQL .. that would be very interesting indeed.

    For anyone out there claiming that '64bit software has a looong way to go', that is only true for Windows. Unix (and Linux) have been running 64bit for a long time now, and the AMD64 has very good support under Linux.
  • dweigert - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    Seeing the difference whether NUMA us used or not would be *VERY* interesting. Also comparing against other NUMA aware OS's (Linux 2.63 or better kernel, or whatever) would be a good test too. Reply
  • hirschma - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    #25 - Seems that it is not for sale to the general public, not that I could find. If anyone knows where/how to get one, please let me know.

    I have an application that is quite expensive and is licensed by the box, no matter how many CPUs it has ;) I'm guessing that building a low-end quad would give me more throughput per $$ than a second license/second box.

  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    We're also looking at some 64bit .NET benchmarks as we're real close to having a real-world application that we can hammer. Reply
  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    An interesting article would be the effect of NUMA on enterprise level applications. GamePC did a bit of a write up on it, but it was limited to desktop and synthetic benchmarks. Would any of you be interested in seeing the effects of NUMA on and off on the sql tests? Reply

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