It's been five months since either of the processor giants released a new server processor. Today, both Intel and AMD have new offerings. Intel has updated their 3.6 GHz Xeon to include an additional 1MB of L2 cache, and AMD has bumped their quickest Opteron up 200Mhz to 2.6GHz with the Opteron 252. Neither one of these upgrades is groundbreaking, but they do offer some performance increases, especially the 2MB Xeon. We'll see some more significant releases later this year from both manufacturers with their Dual Core offerings.

Intel's Update

Instead of a clock increase, Intel decided to throw some cache at the existing 3.6 Xeon units. In one of our previous articles, we took a look at a 4MB Gallatin Xeon and compared it to an Opteron. The results showed that the 4MB cache on the Gallatin didn't boast any large increases over that of the Opteron with 1MB of L2 cache. The main reason for that was the 400Mhz bus, which starved the Gallatin of precious bandwidth. Times have changed; Intel recognized the bandwidth issue and today, an extra 1MB of L2 cache on the 800Mhz bus that the Nocona and Irwindale Xeons offer does make a difference. Of course, the difference depends entirely on the workload, which we'll explain further as we reveal our results.

AMD's Update

The Opteron 252 is mostly a clock speed increase from 2.4GHz to 2.6GHz, but there are a few of other differences that are worth mentioning. The packaging has changed on the new 252 from ceramic to organic - you can see the difference from a 250 to the 252 below. Aside from the packaging, AMD has also thrown in SSE3 instructions, increased the HyperTransport to 1GHz, and the 252 is manufactured on 90nm. As for the Dual Core roadmap for AMD, it remains on schedule for mid-2005. Dual core Opterons will be socket compatible with existing 940 pin sockets that support 90nm (95W/80A).

Click images to enlarge.

64bit SQL Server Tests?

In our recent SQL articles, we've been asked, "where are the 64 bit tests?" Who cares about 32 bit based tests? First, we're right on top of 64 bit testing for SQL Server - remember that this application is still in beta. Regarding the second question, the large majority of SQL Server database servers are running on 32 bit platforms, so a lot of people do care. That being said, 64 bit SQL Server is definitely sought after, and we are going to provide coverage as soon as we can.

Test hardware configuration
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  • Visual - Thursday, July 7, 2005 - link

    the intel board that you used, you listed it as SE7620AF2. there is no such thing though, so is it a typoed SE7520AF2 or a yet unreleased board?
  • kaka - Saturday, February 19, 2005 - link

    ??,OPteron is better than xeon!!
  • Fluff - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link

    But in future it would be handy to touch upon extra features such as differences in remote management, what happens if a cpu fails, if memory fails is there hotswop. As these probably affect a decision as well as performance.

    I believe that people benefit from the sort of technical analysis and simulated real world that Anandtech does but in addition the other factors such as up-time and manangement would be nice to know.

    If a cpu fan / stick of memory fails on a database at the weekend and no one is there to hear the alarm what do the various platforms do?

    If a cpu fails on a dual opteron does that mean it loses all the data attached to that cpu? Does the same happen on a xeon? Will a Xeon keep going with just one - chipkill?

    I'm not sure if this is outside the scope of Anandtech.
  • Jason Clark - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link

    Hans, you are correct in that they wouldn't be using non supported memory. But, since the board was pre-production and at the time of testing there were no "recommended' memory modules, we had to go with what we had. Word is our issues were bios related and a new bios should address it.

  • Jason Clark - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link

    Hans, fair enough on the next article we'll include it for those curious.
  • Jason Clark - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link

    Viditor, we tested with 8GB of memory using PAE and AWE support in SQL. When 64bit versions of sql and windows 2003 are ready we'll be all over it.
  • Viditor - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link

    BTW, for some Linux spec results, check these out...

    Sun Fire V20z server (2xAMD Opteron processor Model 252, SLES9) with PathScale EKOPath Compiler Suite: SPECfp2000 -- 2036, SPECint_rate2000 -- 40.4, SPECfp_rate2000 -- 46.5.

    The Sun Fire V40z server with PathScale EKOPath Compiler Suite (4xAMD Opteron processor Model 852, SLES9): SPECint_rate2000 76.7, SPECfp_rate2000 -- 87.1.

    The Sun Fire V20z server (2xAMD Opteron processor Model 250, SLES8): SPECfp_rate2000 37.2.

    IBM eServer OpenPower 710 (2x1.65 GHz Power5, Linux): SPECfp_rate -- 40.2.

    IBM eServer p5 510 (2x1.65 GHz Power5, AIX): SPECint_rate2000 -- 33, SPECfp_rate2000 -- 43.2
  • Viditor - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link


    I see you are retesting the HT, but I haven't seen a comment from you about testing 64bit with large memory (>4GB). Is this something you just aren't prepared to do right now?

  • Viditor - Thursday, February 17, 2005 - link

    "I read viditor comment that said as single"

    Yup...very sorry bad!

    "Which is why we aren't going to provide information like that, as it isn't relevant to the target audience or the purpose of the article"

    Fair call Jason, but as this is a beta bios, it might be an important data point...

    sleepless - "Looking at the configuration you show Opteron 250 with a 252. Did you have a problem getting another 252 Opteron for the test?"

    They built 2 test platforms, 1 with dual 250s and 1 with dual 252s...or so I assume (after my last mistake I take nothing for granted)...:-)
  • sleepless1 - Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - link

    Looking at the configuration you show Opteron 250 with a 252. Did you have a problem getting another 252 Opteron for the test?

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