The Test

For the test, we had three systems: the Opteron and Xeon test beds, as well as a database server to feed the web servers being tested.

The database server common to all tests had the following components:

2 x Opteron 246 processors (2.0GHz)
4 x 512MB DDR333 DDR SDRAM modules
MSI K8T Master2-FAR
Microsoft Windows 2000 Server SP4
Microsoft SQL Server 2000 SP3

As we mentioned in the sections on setup of the tests, we used a RAMDISK for the database, so I/O performance was not an issue.

The Opteron test bed was configured as follows:

2 x Opteron 244 or 248 processors (1.8GHz/2.2GHz respectively)
8 x 512MB DDR333 DDR SDRAM modules
AMD reference 4-way Opteron motherboard
Microsoft Windows 2003 Enterprise Server with IIS6
Macromedia ColdFusion 6.1

The Xeon test bed was configured as follows:

2 x Xeon MP 2.0/2.8GHz processors
8 x 512MB DDR333 DDR SDRAM modules
Intel 4-way Xeon motherboard based on the ServerWorks GrandChampion HE chipset
Microsoft Windows 2003 Enterprise Server with IIS6
Macromedia ColdFusion 6.1

The Database Server Bottleneck First Round K.O.
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  • Blackbrrd - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    It would be nice to see how the Xeon 2,8GHz DP 533mhz bus (no L3 cache) does against the Opteron 242 set up, as the price for these are about the same. As it is the fastest Intel CPU I can buy from for instance DELL is a 3,2GHz DP with 1MB L3 cache.

    As it is, we will be buying an Opteron server quite soon, based on the outcome of these benchmarks.

    About using a ramdisk: what they have actually tested is how a java webserver performs on the different CPU's. I am working in a small company that uses a java webserver with quite a bit of business logic, not just db inserts updates and selects. This test was about as spot on as you can get.

    Happy to see a site that isn't only doing game pc benchmarking :)
  • Ben98SentraSE - Sunday, January 11, 2004 - link

    First off, GREAT article. I check this site several times a day to see when the next review(s) in this area come out! :)

    I am the IS Manager at a medium-sized credit union and we are converting our core processing application from one that runs on an overpriced Unisys A-Series mainframe (good riddance) to one that runs on Oracle and Windows Server 2003. From Anandtech's articles (as well as a few other reviews around the web) I plan on purchasing Opteron servers to run this new system. Today I can run 32-bit and be fast, and tomorrow when Oracle's AMD64 version of 9i comes out of developer release and either when the AMD64 version of Server 2003 comes out or we become comfortable enough with Linux+Oracle, we can be faster. The point of stating this is just another prop to Anandtech's team that their IT Computing reviews are affecting purchasing in the real world at places like where I work that can purchase the best equipment for the job and for the price, regardless of brand. (thankfully!)

    If I could ask for ANY changes to's reviews, I'd request a larger focus to IT computing. It is hard for me to find sources of information on server-type performance benchmarks in as much depth as Anandtech goes into them.
  • Jason Clark - Saturday, December 20, 2003 - link

    There we go :) Less confusing zuni = jason clark.
  • Zuni - Saturday, December 20, 2003 - link

    Trog, sure I did Zuni = Jason Clark I'll change my nic to my real name shortly as it is confusing. I co-wrote the article with anand.


    The database side of this equation is coming, we're just waiting on some cabling for our u320 drive chasis.
  • Visual - Saturday, December 20, 2003 - link

    Zuni, thanks for responding, whoever you are ;)

    Seems you'll need to run some DB benches on those cpus, or even DB and webserver at once, for this review to be complete... as for me, I'm curious about how much better the A64 can be in 64bit mode :)

    I'm eager to see your next articles, and I want to say thanks to the whole AnandTech team for the great site you're making :)
  • TrogdorJW - Friday, December 19, 2003 - link

    Ugh... I feel like we keep talking past each other. I know and understand that the database was not being used as part of *this* benchmark. My point is that database operations are often a pretty major part of many web servers out there, so, I am curious as to what performance is when you're running the database and web server and everything else together on one system. Consider it a request for a future benchmark, not a fault with the present case.

    As an example, say you have some business that doesn't have a whole lot of money to spend on a server, so they're looking at a Linux box running Apache web server and PHP/MySQL. Certainly, this setup on a single system will not be able to handle a huge amount of traffic, like the web site. However, I would like to see how much traffic such a system *can* handle. And how does the Athlon 64/FX compare to the Pentium 4 in such an arena? Is disk I/O more of a factor, or does the Athlon architecture actually do better?

    Any chance of getting such a benchmark done? Not necessarily with those specific applications, of course, but something similar? Or, if that's a pointless benchmark, please give reasons... maybe it's already been tested by others? Whatever.

    Thanks for the responses, though. And you never answered: is "Zuni" Anand or Jason, or is it someone else who just worked with those two on the article?
  • Zuni - Friday, December 19, 2003 - link

    Essentially using a ramdisk allowed neither cpu to have a limit on its scalability. That's what we were after, and doing that without having expensive raid arrays that are only used when we run a server test. It provided no benefit to either manufacturer it just allowed neither to be limited in any fashion. It worked well, and the numbers show that. I sure hope we can run itanium, we're trying to get ahold of one for you guys.

    Cheers, and everyone have a great holiday!.
  • Falco. - Friday, December 19, 2003 - link

    Zuni, thanks for all the replies, and please keep in mind that most of the replies are not from me, but from a friend of mine that knows ALOT more about this then i do :-)
  • Abraxas - Friday, December 19, 2003 - link

    trogdorjw, in the article it states that the database WAS a bottleneck as you've pointed out, however, it does say "particularly with the opteron." to me this is saying that the database was not a bottleneck with the xeon servers and moreso with the opteron, ie the opteron was only maxed out when using the ramdisk and did not have as much of a performance advantage without it. this would not mean that the opteron had NO advantage over intel with a more normal disk setup. the article also pointed out that even the lower-end opterons (240) would have an advantage over the fastest xeons. this would be even more true under your suggested "real world" setting.

    i can't wait to see the itanic vs opteron comparison :)
  • Zuni - Friday, December 19, 2003 - link

    Thanks for the feedback, appreciate it. If you have further suggestions or applications you feel could be tested post them here.


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