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


View All Comments

  • Hans Maulwurf - Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - link

    Yes, but IBM would not use memory that is not on the recommanded list of the mainboard, at lest I hope so.
    And it is possible that the boad sets very high latencies for the memory you used. So I think it is an important information especially when using memory that is not recommanded.
  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - link

    Hans, let me ask you this. When someone in an IT dept. calls Compaq, Dell, HP or IBM for a server do you think they ask them what the memory timings are set at? The answer is no. 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. We're trying to educate the IT folks on what platform does what on certain workloads and IT related tests.

  • prd00 - Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - link

  • Hans Maulwurf - Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - link


    you do not have to play with the memory timings to report them.
  • dm - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    danidentity, i guess you're right when you mentioned about 5pages of reply ;)... Reply
  • prd00 - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    Sorry, missed your comment Jason.. I read viditor comment that said as single. So, in Dual setup, Xeon is more powerful now ;). Then, Xeon must be faster in single.
    I am waiting for 64 bit one ;)
  • prd00 - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    Wow.. single??
    On single setup, I already knew that Xeon is powerful. Right now what we are lacking is a TRUE SERVER BENCHMARK. Not just single vs single. I can safely recommend Xeon since a few months ago on single setup, but right now, most of our customers are asking about DUAL SETUP. Some are looking in QUAD setup. Single is useless in server environment. For databse server, 9 out of 10 are looking for 2p setup
    So, what I am really looking are database benchmark on single, dual and quad setup, and also how does it scale. Which platform best suited for 2p and 4p, and which one has better upgrade future (i.e. by adding processors), and until what point.

    So, like, Xeon is good for 1p, but on 2p Opteron is better, while more than 8p we can consider Itanium instead for database server.

    Kind of conclusion like that.
  • Jason Clark - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    Zebo, because this is a server test. You don't play with memory timings/overclocking in servers. We used default memory timings that the Tyan board set for the memory. I linked to the manufacturer specs on the memory which identifies its SPD rating. The only thing we're investigating at this point is the 1GHz HT issue in the bios. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    It's certainly a change from the usual Opteron beating Xeon in almost all server tests reviews, and all the more so because you say they were both dual CPU systems (I was under the impression while reading they were only single CPU servers being compared).

    It just goes to show how much difference the benchmarks that are run, how well the systems are set up, and any other things we never know about, can influence results.

    I'm glad Intel is coming out ahead in some tests on AT, maybe you should make them come out ahead on desktop stuff too as that might encourage AMD to drop the prices on the higher rated E0 revision Athlon 64 processors sooner rather than later :)
  • Zebo - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    Jason how comw you did'nt say mem timings nor speed or if 1T or not? I've never seen a review from AT without this. Reply

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