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


View All Comments

  • Fraggster - Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - link

    intel=pwnd again :) Reply
  • Jason Clark - Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - link

    64Bit tests are next on our agenda, once there is an Extended 64bit version of SQL Server.... :) We're looking into other avenues as well.

    Andreas, windows 2003 enterprise is what we used.
  • fukka - Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - link

    Would the Opterons gain any advantage using a 64bit OS (aka Linux) and a database that is much bigger than 4GB in size?

    That would be interesting to see, but I suppose the IA32e will address that advantage...
  • andreasl - Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - link

    Hey Anand have you thought about moving to Server 2003 instead of running 2000? And any chance of seeing 64-bit results anytime soon? (does a 64-bit version of your app even exist?) Reply
  • christophergorge - Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - link

    Opteron only works with ECC registered memory. They only come up to DDR333. Reply
  • raptor666 - Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - link

    Maybe because 4 way boards might not support it.

    Just a guess but honestly i'm not sure.


  • tolgae - Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - link

    Stupid question probably but why didn't you use DDR400 on the Opteron? Reply
  • CRAMITPAL - Tuesday, March 2, 2004 - link

    No surprises here... Anyone with a clue has known for a year that Opteron/A64 is a far superior architecture to anything Intel bulds, sells, or plans to produce in the next two years. Reply

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