Since the excuse to not compare Athlon 64s to Intel Pentium based processors has always been "you can't compare apples to oranges," we found ourselves fairly entertained to come into the possession of a 3.6GHz EM64T Xeon processor. Intel's EM64T is Intel's true x86_64 initiative. This 3.6GHz Xeon processor is actually the exact same CPU in as the LGA775 Pentium 4F we will see in just a few weeks. We are offering a preview of an unreleased processor on 64-bit Linux systems. Now, we have Intel and AMD 64-bit x86 processors, 64-bit Linux operating systems and a few days to get some benchmarking done.

We are going to run the benchmarks for this review slightly different than we have in the past. We want to make our numbers easily replicable for those who have the necessary components, but we also want to show the fullest capabilities of the hardware that we have. Many of our previous benchmarks are not multithread (POV-Ray) or do not scale well. Unfortunately, this forces us to use a lot of synthetic benchmarks; but we feel the overall results are accurate and reflective of the hardware used.

The delicate bit for this review was using the SuSE 9.1 Pro (x86_64) installation rather than compiling it from scratch (à la Gentoo). This was done to preserve the ability to replicate our benchmarks easily. Fedora Core 2 refused to install on the IA32e machine because there was no recognized AMD CPU.

 Performance Test Configuration
Processor(s): Athlon 64 3500+ (130nm, 2.2GHz, 512KB L2 Cache)
Intel Xeon 3.6GHz (90nm, 1MB L2 Cache)
RAM: 2 x 512MB PC-3500 CL2 (400MHz)
2 x 512MB PC2-3200 CL3 (400MHz) Registered
Memory Timings: Default
Hard Drives Seagate 120GB 7200RPM IDE (8Mb buffer)
Operating System(s): SuSE 9.1 Professional (64 bit)
Linux 2.6.4-52-default
Linux 2.6.4-52-smp
Compiler: GCC 3.3.3
Motherboards: NVIDIA NForce3 250 Reference Board
SuperMicro Tumwater X6DA8-G2 (Only 1 CPU)

As there may have been a little confusion from the last review, the DDR PC-3500 only runs at 400MHz. The Infineon Registered RDIMMs used on the Xeon runs at slightly high latencies. All memory runs in dual channel configurations. We removed 1 CPU for the tests in this benchmark, but since HyperThreading was enabled, we used the SMP kernel. During the second half of the benchmarks, SMP was disabled and the tests were re-run under the single CPU generic kernel. These are both 64-bit CPUs, and so, all benchmarks are run on 64-bit OSes with 64-bit binaries wherever possible.

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  • Locutus4657 - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    #228: I don't beleive that for most people it's the inability to accept that A64 can be beat. The fact is there are certain tasks for which any P4 core is better suited and I think most people accept that. What I think most people don't accept are the faulty benchmarks and conclutions in the original artical. The one I personally questioned the most were the mysql benchmarks (corrected now). I'm sorry but the Prescott CPU is inferior in this type of environment as compared even to the old Northwood CPU! It has already been well established that the Opteron/A64 processors can best any Intel chip in DB envirnoments. So what this article was to have me belive is that a 12% increase in clock speed for Precott translates to a 60% lead in database benchmarks? Give me a break. Those test results alone were enough to call the entire original artical in question. I would like to add a disclaimer now that this issue and a couple others were fixed, so I would have to re-read the artical to make any sort of judgment about it again.
  • eiger - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    Snorre and Fritz64,
    Thank you guys for your comments, It was
    quite useful. We are probably going to go with
    the Opterons as of now.

  • snorre - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    I'm looking forward to the single CPU review with Xeon 3.6GHz vs. Opteron 150, and the dual CPU review with Opteron 250 ofcourse. I really hope these reviews will be much better, or else :P.
  • porkster - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    Fair review.

    I praise AMD for bringing 64bit cpu's to the home user but any business in their right mind would never purchase a clone/emulator cpu as of AMD.

    Intel has some catching up to do with releasing 64bit to the desktop users at a good price.

    I can't bring myself to purchasing an AMD cpu as I'm a programmer and also want future ready items like PCIe, BTX design, DDR2, etc which AMD based systems don't have.

    Least there is sometime yet before 64bit OS and device drivers are available for the general market.

  • Viditor - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    Aileur - "Is this review total crap because the opteron doesnt wipe the floor with the xeon?"

    I don't know if it's total crap because
    1. it's in German and even Babelfish can't translate it very well
    2. I can't find any listing of the setup used for testing. (given the proper setups, I can make even a K6 wipe the floor with Nocona...)

    "As for the cpu difference question, thinking the 3500+ isnt targetted to be against a 3.5xx offering from intel is a nice try to convince everybody else, but im sure it doesnt even convince yourself"

    1. it's not a 3.5xx but a 3.6xx
    2. Targeting occurs between chips within a reasonably similar price range and market
  • fritz64 - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    Hello eiger,

    For Scientific computing and best performance for your dollar, you will be in a better situation going with the Opteron. Are you looking for a dual processor set-up? If so, Opteron with on-DIe memory controller and NUMA (non Uniform memory access) aware architecture gives you the best performance again. Just like someone suggest earlier, go and read the bencmarks from aces hardware and get some feeling about the type of performance that you can get.
    On the compiler issue, I will advise you to go for pathscale compiler suit for optimum performance on the opteron. if you choose to go for intel, the the Portlan group compiler or Intel compiler should be fine. A 30 day free trial version of the pathscale compiler can be obtained at
    You code seems to run faster (<10secons). I will advise you to task both system( Operon and Xeon) with a program that requires at leat >200MB of memory and ri=un for at least >30minutes. With that type of program all aspect of the hardware will be put to test. A code that runs for less that 10secons is probably running from the cache alone. Hope this information is useful.
  • allnighter - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    reply to #220
    chainbolt wrote:
    I guess you did not understand the intenton of this article in the first place?
    Oh God.
    You know I'm trying to stay civil here so please do not insult my intelligence. Next time you comment on someone's comprehensive skills make sure your butt and your head switch places.
  • Aileur - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    Baring in mind i am well aware this review is far from perfect, im wondering, how many reviews will it take for people to accept the opteron can be beat?
    Heres another one
    Granted, it is not a total wipe out, but it does win some and lose some. Is this review total crap because the opteron doesnt wipe the floor with the xeon?
    As for the cpu difference question, thinking the 3500+ isnt targetted to be against a 3.5xx offering from intel is a nice try to convince everybody else, but im sure it doesnt even convince yourself. Whos gonna bench it against a tbird and find out "hey thats true! it is equivalent to a 3500mhz tbird!", ridiculous.
    The xeon that was used in this review IS a prescott, the only differences are pins placement, and SMP support, so stop crying this review wasnt fair. Instead of wondering why they didnt use a "server" chip on the AMD part, realise that the xeon used IS a desktop chip, in a different suit.

    And finally, for the name calling part, this site is free, they provide countless benches for countless pieces and theyre considered one of the most respected site on the net, so if youre not happy, you can go read one of those site that does 3 reviews a year, reviewing the stuff he just bought to put into his mothers pc.

    -vent off
  • douglar - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    The disappointing aspects of this review as I see them:

    1 - Questionable test setup. Where exactly was this Xeon64?

    2 - Bad choice of benchmarks. He called them "synthetic benchmarks" but I don't even know if some of these tests should be called benchmarks at all when they only test putchar.

    3 - Flawed testing methodologies. Let's see. Bungled compiles. Dissimilar test configurations. Copied results from other sources. Copying the wrong results from other sources. I don't think I've seen worse.

    4 - Totally ignorant conclusions. The summary looked like a two bit fanboy site and was about as logical.

    5 - Failure to address failures. Yes he did fix two of his more egregious mistakes, but Anand would have tacked on a full page disclaimer at the front of the article in red italics for something that was 1/10th as controversial. This guy just put a pair of "my bad" footnotes in the middle of the article and left the atrocious conclusion stand for us to enjoy.
  • cdo - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    this so called review wont be an issue for much longer... we all know that aces and a myriad of other high tech sites will be doing this exact review over the course of the year. time will show just how bad a "review" this was.

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