Dual Core Server Performance: AMD's Opteron x75 Series

Our first comparison of AMD's new dual core parts is in the server world - where AMD's new CPUs will be shipping to first.  Of course, no review is complete without a handful of interesting experiences from the lab, and this dual core launch was no exception. 

Server Test Platforms

AMD
Our Dual Core samples arrived a few weeks ago from AMD, well in advance of the launch date of April 21st. At the time of the samples' arrival, we didn't have a stable server board to use for our tests. The Tyan S2891 board that we had on hand was still going through BIOS changes and was not recommended for use with the Dual Core parts. As per AMD's recommendation, we secured a Tyan S2895 Workstation board, which AMD had verified was stable. We were uneasy running server based benchmarks on a workstation board and felt that a server based board recommended by AMD would have been more appropriate. That being said, both the S2891 and S2895 are very similar and are both nForce 4 based chipsets, so performance is virtually identical.


Intel
Intel is expected to release their Dual Core Xeon parts in the first quarter of 2006. So, we requested from Intel their latest Xeon MP system, since we were essentially putting a "4P" system against a Dual Xeon with the current hardware that we have in the lab. Intel, as always, came through with their SR4850HW4 4P system along with 4 Cranford 3.6 GHz 1MB L2 cache processors and 4 Potomac 3.3 GHz 8MB L3 Cache processors.

The SR4850HW4 system uses Intel's new E8500 server chipset "Twin Castle", which most importantly includes a new dual bus architecture that runs at 667MHz, up from 400MHz on older Xeon platforms. As you may have read in our last Quad Xeon article, the Xeon was in dire need of some front side bus bandwidth. Aside from the new bus architecture, the E8500 uses DDR2 based memory, in line with the current DP based Xeon systems.

Intel Front Intel memory Intel Cpu

When we began our testing on the new Intel platform, we quickly learned another "feature" of the SR4850HW4. After unpacking the system and setting it up, we proceeded to power it up with the default configuration with which the system had been shipped. The system wouldn't power up. With barely 2-3 days until the launch of this article, we were (needless to say) "on edge" about getting the benchmarks running. We placed an E-mail into our Intel contact, and within about 5 minutes, an engineer gave us a call. After a few minutes on the phone, the engineer asked, "What do you have the system plugged in to?" We responded, "Well, a wall plug in our lab." He then broke the news: "That system requires 208V to run." Now what? Off to Home Depot we went and grabbed some 12 gauge wire and breaker, and within an hour, we were installing Windows. Another Lab adventure for the books?

Breaker Panel Plug

Server Test Hardware Configuration

AMD
Motherboard: Tyan S2895
Memory: 4GB Kingston PC3200 ECC (2GB for Web benchmarks)
OS: Windows 2003 Enterprise/Windows 2003 Web edition (Web benchmarks)
RAID: LSI Logic 320-2 with 8 Seagate 15K Cheetahs in Raid 0

Intel
Memory: 4GB Infineon DDR2
OS: Windows 2003 Enterprise/Windows 2003 Web edition (Web benchmarks)
RAID: LSI Logic 320-2 with 8 Seagate 15K Cheetahs in Raid 0

The Lineup - Athlon 64 X2 Web Tests - FuseTalk .NET
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  • morcegovermelho - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    page 3 "For example, the Opteron 252 and Opteron 852 both run at 2.6GHz, but the 252 is for use in up to 2-way configurations, while the 852 is certified for use in 4- and 8-way configurations. The two chips are identical; it's just that one has been run through additional validation and costs a lot more. "
    I thought that they had different number of HyperTransport (HT) links:
    152 - 1 HT
    252 - 2 HT
    852 - 3 HT
    I thought that was the reason why it was impossible to use two 152s in a two-way motherboard.
    Maybe i'm wrong.
    Reply
  • faboloso112 - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    great article Reply
  • fungmak - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #50
    Dual 875s have 4 cores
    Reply
  • stmok - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    I have waited SOOOOO long! Finally, a reason to dump my dual PIII setups. Next stop, Athlon64 X2! Reply
  • jediknight - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Can someone explain the huge performance difference between the dual Operaon 252s (2.6GHz) and the dual Opteron 875 (2.2GHz)?

    Since:
    "The two chips are identical; it's just that one has been run through additional validation and costs a lot more"

    I would expect the 252s, running at 400MHz more, would outperform the 875s. Can someone explain this (large) discrepency?
    Reply
  • snedzad - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Yes. That's gonna be a four proc-machine. Terrific.

    I am really astonished about whole AMD K8 architecture. And K9 should be 4-core processor architecture.

    Can't wait.

    But, I still won't get a rid of my AX2600 machine.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Ah the brilliant KillerBob.

    Anand used plenty of real world apps for the multitask benchmarks.

    How much more real world testing would you want to go with your (pointless) whining?

    Reply
  • GoatHerderEd - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Why is their stock price at a 6 month low? I hope this pulls it up a bit. It would be a shame if they don’t start making a profit. Reply
  • suryad - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    I just am astounded at the performance these first versions of dual core processing that is being presented to us...WOW...couple that with a well written 64 bit OS and it will be even more smoking!! I think AMD did a job extremely well done and I am glad that they are being aggressive in keeping their pockets full with the prices of their chips. I personally dont think that would stop me from buying their processors. I would wait for the FX to become dual core though. A 3 ghz dual core FX would rock so bad!!!

    Also one more thing...so the Tyan mobo holds 2 procs correct? So if we stuck a dual core in 1 socket and another in the other sock...that makes it a 4 proc machine then right?!!
    Reply
  • bldckstark - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the double post KillerBob. Your statements are as intelligent as your ability to use a keyboard. Reply

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