Benchmarks MySQL: 64 bit versus 32 bit

Sixteen registers, more than 4GB physical and virtual memory, using 64 bit software should have nothing but advantages. To see how much advantage that the new 64 bit binaries offer, we tested both the Xeon Irwindale and the Opteron on 32 bit MySQL and 64 bit MySQL, both version 4.0.18.

The Opteron was tested on the MSI board for these tests, contrary to previous tests where the Iwill board was used. The Intel CPU was running on the Intel board as in all previous tests.

Concurrency Dual Xeon (Irwindale)
3.6GHz with HT 64 bit
Dual Xeon (Irwindale)
3.6GHz with HT 32 bit
Dual Opteron 248 64 bit Dual Opteron 248 32 bit Dual Xeon (Irwindale)
3.6GHz 64 bit versus 32 bit
Dual Opteron 248
64 bit vs 32 bit
1 286 245 324 261 16% 24%
2 450 379 532 421 19% 26%
5 497 534 642 485 -7% 32%
10 517 563 691 509 -8% 36%
20 545 631 692 527 -14% 31%
35 506 616 670 514 -18% 30%
50 495 559 666 516 -11% 29%
AVG 512 580 672 510 -12% 32%
MAX 545 631 692 527 -14% 31%

This is really remarkable, as the Xeon does not benefit from 64 bit at all. Worse, a 10% performance penalty is paid for moving over to 64 bit. The Opteron, however, thrives on 64 bit and gets a 30% boost from 64 bit.

Now, it is possible that the 64 bit binary is simply very well optimized for the Opteron. The 64 bit compiler used by the MySQL engineers (obviously not the Intel compiler, gcc) might not have the necessary optimisations to get the best out of the Xeon architecture. That is probably the most important reason why the difference (+30% versus - 12%) is so big.

However, when we take a look at the numbers in DB2, you will notice that the Xeon runs about 2 to 3% slower, while the Opteron gains a 12% boost from 64 bit. IBM's 32 bit binaries make the Xeon run as fast as the best Opterons. Once we turn to 64 bit binaries, the Opteron gets the upper-hand again. So, there is more: for some reason, the Xeon is not too happy with 64 bit binaries. We can only speculate, but maybe (some) 64 bit calculations have to cycle twice through the ALU's of the Prescott/Nocona/Irwindale architecture.

The consequence is that a Xeon running a 32 bit application is quite a bit faster than the competition, but once you switch to 64 bit, the Xeon does not stand a chance against the Opteron.

Benchmarks MySQL: Single core versus Dual core

Some of you might already get nervous: where is the dual core Opteron? SUSE SLES 9 Linux was a little more stubborn. With the original SLES 9 kernel 2.6.5-97, the dual Opteron would just crash. We applied Service Pack 1 (2.6.5-157smp) and the new Opteron would boot and recognize the two cores, but the second CPU was disabled because of APIC IRQ problems.

Therefore, we were only able to run the Dual core Opteron on Gentoo with a 2.6.12 kernel. The Iwill board still had trouble running two cores. We run the tests on the MSI board. To give you an idea of how Gentoo and the new kernel compare to SUSE SLES 9 SP1, and IWill K8ES to MSI's K8Master2-FAR, we ran a few tests with SUSE on the MSI board too.

Concurrency Dual Core Opteron 875 - MSI -
Dual Opteron 248 - MSI -
Dual Opteron 248
Dual Opteron 248 -
Iwill - SUSE
Dualcore vs Dual CPU Gentoo vs SUSE Iwill vs MSI
1 288 270 324 264 7% -17% -19%
2 463 443 532 461 4% -17% -13%
5 583 558 642 591 5% -13% -8%
10 616 601 691 670 2% -13% -3%
20 648 610 692 683 6% -12% -1%
35 664 611 670 659 9% -9% -2%
50 628 579 666 662 8% -13% -1%
AVG 628 592 672 653 6% -12% -3%
MAX 664 611 692 683 9% -12% -1%

SUSE SLES 9 SP1 is quite a bit faster than a standard tuned Gentoo installation. Some of the improvements in kernel 2.6.12 might have traded performance in for more stability.

The second CPU on the MSI board does not have its own local memory, and has to access the RAM via the Hypertransport connection to the crossbar switch of the first CPU. Just like one dual core Opteron, the two CPUs have to share the bandwidth of one dual channel memory bus. Therefore, the comparison of one dual core Opteron and two single Opterons at the same clock speed is very interesting: it gives us some insight on how much performance is gained by letting the two cores talk over the System Request Queue instead of over the Hypertransport connection. How much does this design boost performance? Quite a bit, according to our benchmarks. This relatively simple design decision offers a 6% performance increase.

The Iwill board is a tiny bit slower than the MSI board, and that might raise some eyebrows. However, Vtune tells us that the Xeon Nocona (1 MB L2) needs to access the RAM memory only 2% of the time. Assuming that the Opteron with its 1 MB cache needs about the same, it is clear that memory bandwidth is not going to determine the results by much. Slightly more aggressive timings (and thus lower latency) or clock speeds might give MSI the edge. These tiny performance differences are not important, however.

Benchmarks MySQL: Hyperthreading?

What can hyperthreading do for MySQL performance?

Concurrency Dual Xeon (Irwindale)
3.6GHz with HT
Dual Xeon (Irwindale)
3.6GHz no HT
HT On vs HT off
1 286 287 0%
2 450 457 -2%
5 497 559 -11%
10 517 583 -11%
20 545 561 -3%
35 506 573 -12%
50 495 570 -13%
AVG 512 569 -10%
Max 545 583 -7%

Amazingly, Hyperthreading decreases performance by quite a bit. This leads to a rather weird conclusion. If you want maximum MySQL (Read) performance from your Xeon server, you have to disable Hyperthreading and run in 32 bit mode. The former is of course not dramatic. The latter might, in some cases, be a serious limitation.

Benchmarks MySQL InnoDB: Intel versus AMD

What if we change the MyISAM engine for the ACID compliant, row level locking InnoDB engine under the hood of MySQL? Surely that should make scaling better, as the MyISAM table locking mechanism is simple, but could be one of the reasons why it scales less in multi-CPU configurations. Let us take a look.

Concurrency Dual Xeon (Irwindale)
3.6GHz with HT
with InnoDB
Single Xeon (Irwindale)
3.6GHz with HT
with InnoDB
Dual Xeon (Irwindale)
3.6GHz without HT
with InnoDB
Dual Opteron 248
Dual Channel

With InnoDB
Single Opteron 248
Dual Channel

With InnoDB
1 207 191 210 216 192
2 283 201 303 312 223
5 324 219 334 396 259
10 319 204 360 397 242
20 301 199 330 357 236
35 281 193 308 353 221
50 274 181 298 333 209
AVG 300 199 326 366 233
MAX 324 219 360 397 259

The InnoDB engine is at about 60% of the speed of the MyISAM engine. Let us analyze these numbers in detail.

Concurrency Dual versus Single Xeon Dual versus Single Opteron Dual Opteron vs Dual Xeon HT on vs off
1 8% 13% 3% -2%
2 41% 40% 3% -6%
5 48% 53% 19% -3%
10 57% 64% 10% -11%
20 51% 51% 8% -9%
35 45% 60% 15% -9%
50 51% 59% 12% -8%
AVG 51% 57% 13% -8%

Yes, we only used the 2.2 GHz Opteron 248, due to time constraints. We tested with this CPU because we also tried to get some numbers on the Dual core Opteron 275 (also 2.2 GHz), but as you know, we could not get that CPU running at dual core in SUSE SLES 9 SP1. It is pretty clear that a 2.6 GHz Opteron 252 would bring in another 16% - 18%. So, even with a different engine, the Opteron keeps outperforming the Xeon with a significant margin. This margin can again be lowered by disabling Hyperthreading.

The Opteron scales a little better than the Xeon in this test. All in all, the InnoDB scales better than the MyISAM engine, but not spectacular: a second CPU offers a 50% - 57% boost instead of 40% - 41% one.

What happens if we use the Dual core Opteron 275? To make this work, we had to resort to the Gentoo distribution again, with the 2.6.12 kernel. All CPUs are running at 2.2 GHz.

Concurrency Dual Dual Core 875 Single Dual Core 875 Dual Opteron 248 Dual Dual core vs One Dual core Dual core vs Dual single
1 199 206 200 -3% 3%
2 308 305 293 1% 4%
5 397 368 338 8% 9%
10 401 379 345 6% 10%
20 400 359 308 11% 17%
35 388 342 305 14% 12%
50 361 322 290 12% 11%
AVG 389 354 317 10% 12%
MAX 401 379 345

InnoDB does not scale better with 4 cores than MyISAM. On the contrary, both Engines show very small performance benefits from more than 2 cores. Interestingly once again, the dual core CPU is quite a bit faster than our Dual CPU (single core) machine. A 10% bonus is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you consider that server boards with only one socket are quite a bit cheaper. It seems that one dual core Opteron is an ideal solution for a rather powerful MySQL database server.

Next, we test with an enterprise database solution: DB2 8.2.

Benchmarks Benchmarks (continued)


View All Comments

  • Guspaz - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    Why are there no graphs like other Anandtech articles? Why is everything in hard to read tables with broken formatting? This one seems a bit rough around the edges compared to the usual Anandtech quality. Reply
  • juhl - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    I find it quite odd that you claim to be testing with a 2.6.12 Linux kernel despite the fact that that kernel has not yet been released in a final version.
    If you are using one of the pre-release kernels you should explicitly say so, and tell us which one.
    The latest stable kernel at the time I write this is, the latest development kernels are 2.6.12-rc6, 2.6.12-rc6-git8 & 2.6.12-rc6-mm1 . There's also the question of wether or not you used a stock kernel or a "patched to hell-and-back with crap" gentoo kernel...

    So, what were you really using?

  • sinisterDei - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but would not the query cache positively affect the scores of both vendor's chips?

    I suppose I don't have a pair of database machines just sitting around to test it out, but I'd imagine that if query cache was enabled the Opteron would experience similar performance boosts to the Xeon- if not more of a boost thanks to the higher-performing memory subsystem.

    Just my $.02 to counteract the fear-monger :)
  • Viditor - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    "Translation: We didn't want our beloved AMD to lose, so we doctored the test"

    Translation of the translation...
    Shoot the messenger! :-)
  • michaelpatrick33 - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    #20 Ah yes the conspiracy theories begin. Just like AMD with Tomshardware. The server results here appear pretty consistent with every other server test I have seen on review sites but who knows.
    # 19. Intel is only at 90nm but do have 300mm wafers. That is why Fab36 is so important for AMD. 300mm wafers and 65nm by Q2 of 2006 should put them pretty equal with Intel's fabrication level. Production level is still way, way in favor of Intel though.

    Pricing, as I said before the Opteron dualcore chips are way cheaper than Intel dualcore server chips because Intel doesn't have any.
  • Questar - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    "The " query cache" was off, as we wanted to test worst case performance. In some cases, the query cache was able to push a single Xeon to 1000 queries per second, and the CPU was still capable of doing more, as the CPU load was at 50% - 70%. "

    Translation: We didn't want our beloved AMD to lose, so we doctored the test.
  • thegagman - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    BTW guys, one reason why AMD may be pricing its chips mihc higher is the MFG process. Unless I am mistaken (and someone correct me if I am wrong), they are still using 200mm wafers on a 90 or 110 process. Intel is using 300mm at 65 nm...this results in a huge difference in throuhput. Since AMD is already pricing its CPUs very agressively to gain market share, and the die of those dual-cores is much bigger (anybody know the real %?) then it is to be anticipated that their dual-cores are much more exspensive. They are probably gambling on selling dual-core Opterons at high-margins via Sun and other OEMs first,which will probably take most of their wafers. This is why their Desktop parts are coming later I would bet...

  • nserra - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    #17 Good answers but, "Depends on the applications you run. On single threaded code, the faster single core will run your code faster."

    Doesn’t explain what I was meaning, so for you is OK to pay more for a single core processor, because runs faster some times (may run slower other times), how will you know what it will happen? (Supposing that you don’t know shit about your software requirements).

    . AMD don’t have this problem so why would amd for example release an 4200+ processor at the same price of the 3500+ ? If the performance is equal or superior?
    I think amd have made they right decisions, like intel have made his.
    They all play with what they have, and not with they haven’t.
  • fitten - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    "Explain me something:
    - how do you explain or how Intel will explain that their single core processor cost more than the dual core ones? "

    Because Intel sets the prices of their chips. They want to push dual-core to the masses so they price them accordingly.

    "- Why should you buy a single core over a dual core if it cost more? "

    Depends on the applications you run. On single threaded code, the faster single core will run your code faster.

    "- How good is this Intel market decision (marketing). "

    Probably pretty good. Considering you have to buy a new motherboard to use the dual-core Intel parts, they dropped the price so that the CPU + motherboard cost is about the same (or less than still) the cost of just the dual-core CPU from AMD. Sounds like a good strategy to me.
  • michaelpatrick33 - Friday, June 17, 2005 - link

    I also think it is safe to say that Amd's dualcore Opterons will be cheaper than any Intel dualcore server chip for the next six to eight months since there aren't any Intel dualcore server chips. IDC just released market research that showed AMD with 30% of the 4way server sales in Q1 '05. That is what AMD is after. The 64bit performance difference is surprising to say the least. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now