AMD Dual Core Opteron vs. Intel Dual Core Xeon

It's been a rough road for the Intel Xeon since AMD introduced the Opteron. AMD's market share is climbing, and in a complete role reversal of years gone by, AMD is reported to have 81.5% of the US retail PC market with Intel sitting at 18.5%. In the server space (lower volume, higher profit) AMD is now sitting at over 14%, up 5% from 2004. There is no question that the fight is fierce between the two processor giants: recently AMD hired one of Intel's high ranking Itanium designers.

While the past few years haven't been Intel's best, it certainly doesn't mean that the future will carry on that trend. Intel's next generation products are in development, and on paper look quite promising. Performance per Watt is a key focus for Intel and is something the industry is in dire need of. As we alluded to in a previous article, power consumption is on everyone's mind. Opteron is not only the most scalable enterprise processor today, but it's also the most efficient. With a dual socket Opteron system using up to 40% less power than Intel's current Bensley systems, there is a lot of room for improvement.

While it seems like AMD can sit back, relax and enjoy the growth curve, that wouldn't be a wise move. Intel is not going to take this for much longer - they can't. It's clear Intel is banking heavily on the last two quarters of the year, and the next generation products have to perform and win back mind and market share. Woodcrest and Kentsfield are no secret, and if they live up to expectations, the tables could turn. Intel is already competitive with Opteron performance in dual processor configurations with the soon to be released Bensley platform. With a reduction in power consumption Q4 of 2006 will be interesting to say the least.

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  • massimor - Friday, April 28, 2006 - link

    I swear this is not to inject some IBM marketing into this valuable discussion (I have technical role myself within IBM and have very little to do with marketing) but I was wondering if you have evaluated running the same test on a system with a NON-vanilla Intel 8500 chipset. IBM develops its own X3 chipset to power the XEON MP servers in the x366 and x460 servers and that is supposed (actually known) to be much better than the Intel base kit.

    More info here:">">

    It would have been interesting to see how the AMD based system would compare to an X3 based system. On other benchmark it's usually a head-to-head.

  • bjbrock - Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - link

    is mostly true. One thing that has come out from an AMD consurtium is the Hypertransport v3. This will definitely affect the multi-processor server issue. From clusters to SMP.
  • Art - Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - link

    Would it be possible to provide details on memory configuration of both systems?
    Performance may depend significantly on the specific configuration. So, the test results without this type of detail don't make much sense.

    Important details for Intel system:
    1) Number of memory boards (this is equivalent to memory channels used)
    2) Number of DIMMs per memory board
    3) Memory mode (Max Performance, Max Compatibility, RAID, Mirroring)
    4) Agjacent Cache Line Prefetch (enabled or disabled)
    5) Hardware Prefetcher (enabled or disabled)

    Important details for AMD system:
    1) Memory speed (DDR400, DDR333, or DDR266)
    2) ECC disabled or enabled
    3) Chip Kill disabled or enabled


  • johnsonx - Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - link

    Also, is the memory on the Opteron running node-interleaved or NUMA? Any comparitive benchmark numbers between the two modes?
  • deathwalker - Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - link

    "AMD is reported to have 81.5% of the US retail PC market with Intel sitting at 18.5%". A very interestng statistic. How much bigger would the margin be if the World wide leader in PC sales "Dell" would crack open the door for AMD? Alas though, that will not happen as long as Intel keeps Dell executives and board members pockets padded.
  • tygrus - Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - link

    You said,

    How much bigger would the margin be if the World wide leader in PC sales "Dell" would crack open the door for AMD?

    US Retail does not include Dell's direct sales, thus no inherant change in US retail sales figures.
    It's a part of a part of a part of the total world-wide microprocessor sales.

    Inte have trouble sharing FSB amongst more points. It's easier when it's on CPU but it's not for free. When they first went to dual-core they used 800MHz FSB instead of the EE 1066MHz and was first available for only single socket systems. This pattern continues as Intel introduces new products with limited FSB speed.
  • trivik12 - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    Intel does not seem to care on MP side. Only Tulsa (last release in netburst?) with insane amount of cache is releasing. They will not be competitive until Tigerton releases mid-2007. I guess cancellation of whitefield is the culprit.
  • peternelson - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    "AMD is completely quiet about anything other than a socket and memory controller change;"

    Yes we heard that new Opteron 1xx would be on AM2 and Opteron 2xx and 8xx would be on the new socket F.

    We hear plenty about the AM2 launch (including being brought forward, and motherboards).

    Things have gone quiet on the socket F. What is the latest news Anandtech? Because if everything is moving to DDR2 we ought to buy Opterons AFTER the migration rather than before. And what sort of motherboards are going to be launched to support it? Hoping to see some interesting offerings from the usual suspects like Tyan, Iwill etc.

    It just would be nice to hear the odd Anandtech story to confirm things are still on some kind of schedule. If it were not for the upcoming migration I would have bought a cluster of Opterons already.
  • themelon - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    Did the DL585 you guys used run the memory at 266MHz? The one that I have does but it is about 2 years old so they may have changed the specs on it.
  • GrammatonJP - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    Coming from a long time enterprise xeon user, its sad that intc can't even keep up.. its even sadder that my infrastructure is already setup and I can't get one of these AMD machines in till we hit our load on the current xeons.. :(

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