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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  • KillerBob - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    Griswold,

    MT Test 1: PEE 1 - X2 0 Very likely scenario
    MT Test 2: PEE 2 - X2 0 Likely scenario
    MT Test 3: PEE 2 - X2 1 So-so scenario
    MT Test 4: PEE 3 - X2 1 Likely scenario
    MT Test 5: PEE 3 - X2 2 Likely scenario
    MT Test 6: PEE 3 - X2 3 Unlikely scenario

    I play a lot of games, but I never have things in the background, as a matter of fact I don't want to have anyting in the background, except for perhaps a big NewsPro download.
    Reply
  • MrEMan - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    102,

    Artificial stupidity run rampant?

    or

    Natural deselection (survival of the twitest)?
    Reply
  • Quanticles - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    I vote that 90% of the people on here have no idea what they're talking about... lol Reply
  • erwos - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    "It's odd that some picture game developers immediately supporting the PhysX chip as soon as it's available, but think they'll drag their feet to take advantage of another whole CPU core at their disposal."

    It's basically about the implementation differences of the two. You can be relatively certain that PhysX is going to be shipping their chips/cards with libraries that allow game devs to just speed up certain processing with special function calls (ie, calculate_particle_spread()). Multi-threading requires that you design your application from the very start to take advantage of it (mostly - I would wager splitting off the background music to its own thread is reasonably straightforward).

    Game logic doesn't always lend itself to multi-threading, either. If I shoot my gun, I want to hear the sound next. I don't want it to be thrown at the sound thread, where it may or may not execute next. Threading introduces latency, in other words, unless you so tightly bind your threads together that you may as well not use multi-threading.

    -Erwos
    Reply
  • Griswold - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    KillerBob, so that makes you a brilliant illiterate, since it's not what the benchmarks say. :) Reply
  • cHodAXUK - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    #83 Get a clue, a single core 3500+ is faster than the quivelant Opteron at the same speed. Why? Unregistered memory and tigher memory timinings. ECC memory comes with a 2-4% performance penalty but the big difference comes with the command speed, 2T for the Opteron and 1T 3500+, the AMD64 thrives on lower lower latancies that can make as big as an 10% performance difference and that is BEFORE we start to even think about raising the FSB speed which makes a significant difference to overall system perfomance. 15% is in no way unrealistic with a mild overclock and lower latancies, if you don't believe me then email Anand and ask him. Reply
  • Zebo - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    Jep4444 (#89) What do you mean X2's "arent nearly as good as the dual core Opterons"??

    Comming from XS I suspect don't OC very well?

    But they are the same cores as the Opterons are. and with ram should run signifigantly faster.

    Or do you mean buggy? That's easily attibuted to BIOS, IE none released yet so no working BIOS.

    How about a link please.
    Reply
  • Umbra55 - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    The benchmark overviews show "dual opteron 252 (2.6 GHz)" all over the review. I suppose this is single 252 instead of dual?

    Please correct accordingly
    Reply
  • emboss - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    #40 (Doormat):
    You're forgetting that the size of a dual-core is (roughly) double that of a single-core. So, assuming 1000 cores/wafer, 70% defect rate per core, then a single-core wafer (with an ASP of $500) will net AMD 700*500 = $350K.

    The same wafer with dual-cores will produce (approximately) 1000/2 * (0.7)^2 = 245 CPUs. So, to get the same amount of cash per wafer, AMD needs an ASP of $1429, or the second core costing 85% more than the first core.

    Of course, it's not quite this simple ("bad" chips running OK at lower speeds, etc) but it's not entirely unreasonable to see dual-cores with prices ~3 times that of a single core at the same speed grade. Intel is almost dumping (in the economic sense of the word) dual-core chips.
    Reply
  • saratoga - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    "saratoga, waah? There are similarities between C# and C++. While agree it's java'ish as well, it definitely has similarties to c++. One could say c# shaes similarities with c/c/c++.

    read away:

    http://www.mastercsharp.com/article.aspx?ArticleID...

    http://www.csharphelp.com/archives/archive138.html

    "

    I'm guessing you're not a c++ programmer ;)

    Anyway, yes they both use c syntax, however thats pretty much irrelevent given that Java also uses c syntax (as does Managed c++ which incidently IS the .net language directly based on c++) and I've never heard anyone call it related to c++. Beyond (some) syntax heritage and the fact that they're both OO langauges, they're very different beasts.

    ""C# is directly related to C and C++. This is not just an idea, this is real. As you recall C is a root for C++ and C++ is a superset of C. C and C++ shares several syntax, library and functionality." Quoted from above.

    L8r."

    Err yeah c++ is mostly a superset of c++. Thats neither here nor there. Just try and use the c/c++ preprocessor in c# and you'll see very quickly what the difference is. Or try using c++ multiple inherritance. You'll find that just because you took java and added operator overloading and made binding static by default, its not c++.
    Reply

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