The clock has "ticked" and Intel has released a refresh to the quad-core Xeon line-up, code-named Harpertown. AMD has also finally released their quad-core Opteron, code-named Barcelona. Intel is on what they like to call a tick-tock release cycle of processors. Every "tick" is a refresh of the current architecture, and a "tock" represents a new architecture. AMD doesn't seem to be on any pattern of release cycles, and the Barcelona launch is a bit late and not as well organized as some of their previous product launches.

Harpertown will launch with clock speeds all the way up to 3.16GHz, and will also ship two low voltage parts (2.3GHz and 2.6GHz). The rumor mill speculates that Intel may be able to reach 3.4GHz with the new 45nm process shrink. Barcelona on the other hand is launching at 2.0GHz with speeds down to 1.7GHz. There will be three low voltage Barcelona parts at launch: 1.7GHz, 1.8GHz and 1.9GHz. Frankly, it's more than a bit disappointing that AMD wasn't able to launch at higher clock-speeds; however, they are planning to have higher-clocked parts towards year-end that will only require a few more watts to run.

For quite some time now Intel has been living the high-life in the quad-core arena, even though both AMD and the media criticized them for gluing two dual-core processors together to create their quad-core product line. AMD has lost market share to Intel over the past couple of years, mostly due to the success Intel has had with their current Core architecture. One does wonder if AMD might have sat too long on the Opteron before making head-way into a new design or moving along a bit quicker to quad-core; yes, there was work happening, including an aborted architecture, but when you're fighting the reigning heavyweight such mistakes can be costly. Obviously, AMD has had a rough year with respect to their finances, but hopefully they are on the mend and Barcelona is the beginning of an upswing.

We've already looked at Barcelona in several previous articles, but Harpertown is the new kid on the block this week. That being the case, we'll start with a closer look at Intel's latest addition to their lineup.

What's new with the Harpertown Xeon
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  • Xspringe - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    Except in this particular case, based on the available data, this does not make sense at all. Power requirements of the AMD system are already lower then that of the Xeons (including the extra fans and ram), so these extra fans should not be required.
  • Proteusza - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    Hello? Anandtech? can we have some justification for the difference in test beds and the fact that performance per watt is now completely meaningless?

    Or are you just going to let this one slide?
  • Justin Case - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    A difference of 50 watts would be enough to push the efficiency (performance per watt) of the Barcelona system above that of the Harpertown system in most of the benchmarks used in the article.

  • DeepThought86 - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    Wow if these numbers are representative then Barcelona is killing Intel, even at 45nm, on a $/performance basis and has great perf/watt too. A 2.5 GHz Barcelona will match anything Intel has until 2008 and a 3GHz Barcelona will obliterate them, period.

    Looks like Harpertown isn't enough to match AMD if they can get it scaled quickly. I think AMD will be making large server marketshare gains going forward until Nehalem is introduced. Great news for buyers!
  • defter - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    Yeah right, because 3GHz Xeon has a 40-55% lead against 2GHz Barcelona, you will think that 2.5GHz (+20% clockspeed) Barcelona will overtake 3.2GHz Xeon?

    It's quite funny, two years ago when Intel was selling Netburst dual cores for $150-200 while AMD charged over $300 for a cheapest dual core CPU, nobody cared about performance/$ benchmarks :)

    But now some fanbois are making up "performance/$", "performance/$/watt/clock", "performance/watt/Ruiz's IQ" metrics just to artificically boost AMD's poor CPU. This is enthusiast site, most people care also about which product is a simply faster, that's why omitting expensive or 120W CPUs from the reviews is a bit silly. Fastest CPU from manufacturer A vs. fastest CPU from manufacturer B is always a fair game.
  • Proteusza - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    As the other guy said, its 25%, also, theres the fact that 1 AMD MHz is not equal to 1 Intel MHz.

    This may seem like utter fanboy crap, until you consider that a 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo generally outperforms a 3 GHz Intel Pentium 4.

    Similar thing with how a K8 beat the pants off an equivalently clocked P4, and it looks like Barcelona is a very good performer.

    You need to study computer architecture to understand why, but until then, keep your ignorance to yourself.
  • defter - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link


    As the other guy said, its 25%

    This is true, my mistake.


    also, theres the fact that 1 AMD MHz is not equal to 1 Intel MHz.

    Here is your mistake, I was talking about percentage point increases, not MHz increases.

    Ok, let's look back at example:
    2GHz Barcelona performance: 1
    3GHz Xeon performance: 1.4-1.55 (40-55% faster)
    assuming perfect scaling:
    2.5GHz Barcelona performance: 1.25 (in reality it will be less, since scaling is not perfect)

    As you can see, even 2.5GHz Barcelona will not be as fast as current Xeons.


    it looks like Barcelona is a very good performer.

    Why? Even the future 2.5GHz parts will be slow compared to competition.

    You can look here for benchmarks between a future 2.5GHz Barcelona and 3GHz 45nm Xeon:">

    Barcelona loses every real world test, in many tests it's significantly behind Xeon. Even when taking FB-DIMMs into account, Xeon has a lower power under load in Povray test.

    And 3GHz Xeon isn't even a top speed part, in November Intel will introduce 3.16GHz quad core Xeon with faster parts coming later.

    The fact is that AMD needs >3GHz Barcelonas in November, just to achieve parity with Xeon.
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    server vs desktop

    on the desktop, barcelona will have a) a faster memory controller b) faster clocks c) faster memory (ddr667 on the server, ddr800 and ddr1066 on the desktop)

    yes for desktop apps k10 needs more or less clock parity, but the original poster alluded to the target market for the opterons.
  • Proteusza - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    K I see what you saying about relative performance.

    In most cases Barcelona seems to perform equal to an approximately equivalently clocked Harpertown.

    So when a harpertown chip has a 50% clockspeed advantage, its going to beat any AMD chip until said AMD chip gets up to equal clockspeeds (approximately).

    Nonetheless, I think its performance per watt figures should be pretty interesting, and I'm glad it generally outperforms a Clovertown at equivalent speeds. If it couldnt do that, it would be a dead duck.
  • flyck - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    You are correct when you are talking about performance only related stuff. However barcelona won't be that far behind. Performance/wat will be better (is allready better if you consider that the more memory the worse the situation gets for intel).

    Why? Even the future 2.5GHz parts will be slow compared to competition
    That sin't true. They will be very competive when we are talking about performance/W.

    And i think that amd will be very performance competive vs intel when they can reach the 2.8GHz-3Ghz ratios which are due for start of the coming year. (especially when faster registerd ram is available).

    Another comment that i would like to place is that on techreport you can hardly speak about server based benchmarks. although it does point out that amd will need frequency equality to be competive in the fanatic sector.

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