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

  • Carfax - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    Sheesh, the workstation benches still aren't up? :(

    More people are interested in the workstation benchmarks than database I'd wager because it's a better showcase for the new enhancements.

    How long will we have to wait?
  • Jason Clark - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    snorre, proper? It is proper in terms of the Windows world since 64 bit DOES NOT EXIST :). If you want to see 64bit linux coverage as said in these comments and in the article view the linux section or Johans work in the IT section.

  • snorre - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    I'd like to see a proper Xeon DP 2M vs Opteron 252 review, since MS SQL 32-bit benchmarks are only of limited interest. When will we see this?

    Are there any proper Opteron 252 reviews out there?
  • semo - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    #70, you said it. it's the cost. cost is my killer.

    sure ddr2 costs more than ddr but i hate upgrading my whole setup just to get new momory. right now i'm running a pc133 setup and cannot upgrade even if i wanted to (and believe me... i want to). i know that low latency is what the hammer architecture wants but doesn't regitered memory increase latencies... and what is registered memory anyway?
  • Jason Clark - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    There was a few questions about single or dual in here, I had answered that but to clarify all testing was DUAL processor. Reply
  • Jason Clark - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    One thing to remember with the Tyan bios is it is pre-production. We'll post info as soon as we have it. Reply
  • Jason Clark - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    We're working with Tyan on the 1GHz HT issue, if we get a new bios that supports it we will re-test and post our results..

  • Viditor - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    "i'm interested in number cruncing and games and rendering, i.e. a workstation not a server"

    Why would you not want registered memory then? Contrary to popular opinion, it does not affect the speed...only the cost.
    For gaming, dual systems are no help at all (unless you're running a game server) with todays software. For professional rendering, you absolutely WANT registered memory!
    DDR2 would actually be no speed increase at all for AMD64 systems, and none yet for Intel systems. Not until the memory speeds get much higher will we see any benefit from DDR2...
    XDR is also not a good match for the AMD chips because of the high latency. AMD chips are NOT bandwidth constrained but ARE latency sensitive (meaning that increasing memory speeds does very little, while increasing latency makes them much worse).

    The only real issue of registered memory is the cost, and if that is the problem I would suggest a high end A64 939 SLI board (e.g. Asus A8N-SLI), and upgrade to dual core in September or so...
  • semo - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    i'm interested in number cruncing and games and rendering, i.e. a workstation not a server. unforutnately the integrated memory controller of the amd hammers are both their strengths and weaknesses.

    it's only upto amd whether we can have unregistered, ddr2 or maybe even xdr memory i guess
  • Viditor - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    "is it possible to have a dual proc setup without using registered memory?"

    Technically yes...but registered memory is what's preferred for servers because it is more securely accurate. All Opterons use registered memory...
    Platforms for the Athlon MP use non-registered memory, and a very few of the Xeon platforms do as well...

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