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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  • patrick0 - Sunday, April 24, 2005 - link

    If they would have the dual-core in stores in June, I would buy one, but this isn't the case, so I'll buy San-Diego 4000+.
    I'll upgrade when quad-core will be out.
    Reply
  • Barneyk - Sunday, April 24, 2005 - link

    oh, you cant edit your comments...

    Anyway, im really excited about this development of computing, not having good multitasking ability feels so outdated, i've been crying about that for years, and fianlly its here...
    Well, almost, and its probably another year before i can afford it, but still... :)
    Reply
  • Barneyk - Sunday, April 24, 2005 - link

    test Reply
  • jvarszegi - Sunday, April 24, 2005 - link

    Again, the lack of technical superiority of AT's "experts" is obvious. On SQL Server, you're not supposed to prepend stored-procedure names with "sp_", as it introduces a performance penalty. This is basic knowledge. Some have remarked before on how their .NET "experts" code like, um, transplanted ColdFusion "experts". :) Reply
  • Visual - Sunday, April 24, 2005 - link

    a minor error: on page 12 right above the graph it says "The Dual Opteron 252's lead by 19% over the closest Xeon, which was the Quad Xeon 3.6 GHz 667MHz FSB" but the slowest xeon is the 3.3 GHz one. Reply
  • mechBgon - Saturday, April 23, 2005 - link

    Zebo... hehe, yep :D Reply
  • justly - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    An outstanding article about AMDs duel core, just what I would expect from Anandtech (to bad I had to go to techreport.com to read it). Reply
  • Zebo - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    Hahaha makes Chetta's drool: Looks just like you MECH.:) Reply
  • MACKTEK - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    I appreciate the article but am disappointed by the misleading title... AMD's dual core Opteron & Athlon 64 X2 - Server/Desktop Performance Preview. The 939 is not equal to 940. Also, the article clearly says
    COMPARE ATHLON 64 X2... right on the 1st page. In fact the article does not admit to "not having a real x2" until page 13. I love reading anandtech's articles and visit frequently... Perhaps a better title would have been... Preview of Athlon64 X2 using an Opteron CPU.
    Reply
  • mechBgon - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    http://pics.bbzzdd.com/users/mechBgon/drool.jpg



    #82 says "and corporate PCs could work perfectly and more with a K5-K6/P2-P3."

    Ahhh, this again. You obviously haven't worked with a fully-armed installation of McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8.0i. *evil grin* Hope you enjoyed your stay in 1999... welcome to 2005.

    ;)
    Reply

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