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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  • saratoga - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    " The three main languages used with .NET are: C# (similar to C++), VB.NET (somewhat similar to VB), and J# (fairly close to JAVA). Whatever language in which you write your code, it is compiled into an intermediate language - CIL (Common Intermediate Language). It is then managed and executed by the CLR (Common Language Runtime).
    "

    Waaah?

    C# is not similar c++, its not even like it. Its dervived from MS's experience with Java, and its intended to replace J#, Java and J++. Finally the language which is similar to c++ is managed c++ which is generally listed as the other main .net language.

    http://lab.msdn.microsoft.com/express/
    Reply
  • Shintai - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #80, #81

    Tell me how much faster a singlecore 4000+ is compared to a 3800+ and you see it´s less than 5% in average, mostly about 2%. Your X2 2.2Ghz 1MB cache will perform same or max 1-1½% faster than a singlecore 2.2Ghz 1MB cache in games. So 10% lower for is kinda bad for a CPU with higher rating. Memory wont help you that much, cept in a fantasy world.

    And less take a game as example.
    Halo:
    127.7FPS with a 2.4Ghz 512KB cache singlecore.
    119.4FPS with a 2.2Ghz 1MB cache dualcore.
    And we all know they basicly have the same PR rating due to cache difference.

    And the cheap singlecore here beats the more expensive, powerusing and hotter dualcore CPU with 7% faster speed.

    So instead of paying 300$ for a CPU, you now pay 500$+, get worse gaming speeds, more heat, more powerusage....for what, waiting 2 years on game developers? Or some 64bit rescue magic that makes SMP for anything possible? It´s even worse for intel with their crappy prescotts, 3.2Ghz vs 3.8Ghz. Atleast AMD is close to the top CPU, but still abit away.

    Real gamers will use singlecores the next 1-2 years.
    Reply
  • Shintai - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Forgot to add about physics engine etc. For that alone you can add a dummy dedicated chip on say..a GFX card for it for 5-10$ more that will do it 10x faster than any dualcore CPU we will see the rest of the year. Kinda like GFX cards are 10s of times faster than our CPUs for that purpose. Not like good o´days where we used the CPU to render 3D in games.

    The CPUs are getting more and more irrelevant in games. Just look how a CPu that performs worse in anything else as the Pentium M can own everything in gaming. Tho it lacks all the goodies the P4 and AMD64 got.

    It makes one wonder what they actually develop CPUs after, since 95% is gaming, 5% workstation/servers and corporate PCs could work perfectly and more with a K5-K6/P2-P3.

    Then we could also stay with some 100W or 200W PSU rather than a 400W, 500W or 700W.
    Reply
  • cHodAXUK - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    make that 'performed to 91% of the fastest gaming cpu around'. Reply
  • cHodAXUK - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #79 Are you smoking something? A dual core 4400+ running with slow server memory and timing plus no NCQ drive peformed within 91% of the fastest gaming chip around. Now the real X2 4400+ with get at least a 15% pefromance boost from faster memory timings and unregistered memory and that is before we even think about overclocking at all. Reply
  • Shintai - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    So what the tests show is like 64bit tests.

    Dualcores are completely useless the next 2+ years unless you use your PC as a workstation for CAD, photoshop and heavy encoding of movies.

    And WinXP 64bit will be toy/useless the next 1-2years aswell, unless you use it for servers.

    Hype, hype, hype...

    In 2 years when these current intel and amd cores are outdated and we have pentium V/VI or M2/3 and K8/K9. Then we can benefit from it. But look back in the mirror. Those early AMD64 and those lowspeed Pentium 4 with 64bit wont really be used for 64bit. Because when we finally get a stable driverset and windows on windows enviroment. Then we will all be using Longhorn and nextgen CPUs.

    Dualcores will be slower than singlecores in games for a LONG LONG time. And it will be MORE expensive. And utterly useless cept for bragging rights. Ask all those people using dual xeons, dual opterons today how much gaming benefit they have. Oh ye, but hey lets all make some lunatic assumption that i´m downloading with p2p at 100mbit so 1 CPU will be 100% loaded while im encoding a movie meanwhile. yes then you can play your game on CPU#2. But how often is that likely to happen anyway. And all those multitasking things will just cripple your HD anyway and kill the sweet heaven there.

    It´s a wakeup call before you be the fools.
    games for 64bit and dualcores ain´t even started yet. So they will have their 1-3years developmenttime before we see them on the market. And if it´s 1 year it´s usually a crapgame ;)
    Reply
  • calinb - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    "Armed with the DivX 5.2.1 and the AutoGK front end for Gordian Knot..."

    AutoGK and Gordian Knot are front ends for several common aps, but AutoGK doesn't use Gordian Knot at all. AutoGK and Gordian Knot are completely Independent programs. len0x, the developer of AutoGK, is also a contributor to Gordian Knot development too. That's the connection.

    calinb, DivX Forums Moderator
    Reply
  • cHodAXUK - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Hmm, it does seem that dual core with hyperthreading can be a real help and yet some times a real hinderance. Some benchmarks show it giving stellar performance and some show it slowing the cpu right down by swamping it. Some very hit and miss results for Intel's top dual core part there makes me wonder if it is really worth the extra money for something that can be so unreliable in certain situations. Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    even if i can't spell them. Reply
  • Zebo - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Fish bits

    Words mean things sorry you don't like them.

    Cripple is true. The X2 is crippled in this test since it's not really and X2.

    It's a "misrepresentation" of it's true abilities.

    I was'nt bagging on Anand but highlithing what was said in the article then speculating of potential performance of the real X2 all things considered.

    Sorry I did'nt attend PC walk on my tip toes class. I say what I mean and use accurate words.
    Reply

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