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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  • Zebo - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    It's all good Jep. I was mainly hoping you'd link me to a real live X2 over at xtreme which is why I persisted;) Reply
  • Minotar - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    All I can say is WOW!!! AMD keeps kicking more and more ass!!!!!! Reply
  • Jep4444 - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    why would i make this up? im just saying what i was told, for all i know that person made it up

    PS if anyone tries to comment and i dont respond within the next 3 days, its cause i wont be on, not cause im backing out of what i said
    Reply
  • Zebo - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    Frankey Jep I'm not buying it. It would cost AMD signifigantly more to make these dual 1MB L2 cores different at the core level. 8XX, 2XX, 1XX, and X2 are identical except for tracing in the pakageing and pins to make them function differently. Check out Tomshardware's recent CPU article about AMD manufacturing and you'll see what I'm talking. Reply
  • Jep4444 - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    im not trying to start a rumour, im very much pro AMD(and if you knew me, i generally dislike attention)

    all im saying is dont decided it'll be so fast until we see the real thing
    Reply
  • Son of a N00b - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    #107......rumor.....looking for attentin....engineering sample...of course rushed....BIOS........shhhh jep...........period

    :-P
    Reply
  • Filibuster - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    If you've actually read through this entire thing, congratulations! Reply
  • Jep4444 - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    #98 what i heard is from word of mouth, not from the site itself

    while it is true they don't OC very well, apparently the Athlon X2 was rushed and so its functionality wasn't as good as the Opteron 875

    from what i hear they don't multi-task nearly aswell as the Opteron does but single threaded performance should still be up to par

    the Athlon 64 has had changes made to the ALU amongst other places which would differentiate it from the Opteron aswell

    keep in mind i have no actual proof of this and i would love to be wrong but the guys at XS generally know what they're talking about
    Reply
  • UzairH - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    AT should run the doom 3 tests again, this time not using the timedemo but actual gameplay run-throughs. If Doom3 uses a seperate thread for physics then dual-core should definitely benefit. Reply
  • fitten - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    #102 ++ Reply

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