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

  • semo - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    is it possible to have a dual proc setup without using registered memory? Reply
  • Proton - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    "We did a revamp of the tool itself, which is more performant on high volume queries."

    Please read this article...

    "More recently, we've seen the word "performant" start its crawl into the everyday vocabulary of devspace. It is used to mean "highly performing." It's also not a word. When something provides information, it's informative. It's not "informant." The word "performant," if it existed, would be a noun—not an adjective. But it doesn't exist, so if you do see it in print, remember that it's not really there.'
  • ceefka - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    #15 Jason, let me rephrase that#10: "However compact"... That would do it more justice ;-)

    I didn't thank you for the effort you and Ross put into this, did I? Your article came out together with the announcements of AMD. Hot stuff! How much time/sleep did you really have?
  • Viditor - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    "What memory timings?"

    Good question...

    "is it dual vs Dual or single vs single"

    single vs single, 32bit
  • prd00 - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    Wait... I think I miss something here.. is it dual vs Dual or single vs single? Reply
  • Zebo - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    What memory timings? Reply
  • Viditor - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    "I don't know if it fixes the IOMMU issue or not"

    As far as we know, it doesn't. The Smithfield is a desktop part, so that is to be expected...large quantities of memory aren't yet necessary for the desktop.

    "Now this is interesting. Somewhere were Intel comes out on top by a big margin"

    (grin) Only the most diehard AMD fan would deny Xeon's capabilities...
    For a 1 or 2 CPU server that is used for low-end database serving or webserving, the new Xeon is excellent in 32bit (the CPU of choice)!
    As the next few months grind ahead, we will see quite a few scenarios on review sites. My own suppositions are that

    1. In a 1 or 2 single core Opteron system there is almost no bandwidth constraint. This is evidenced by the lack of change with the 25% HT increase to 1GHz. That said, we might see significant changes in 4 and 8 way systems, especially as dual cores come on-line.
    2. We still have no reviews of these two platforms in 64bit using >4GB of ram. I suspect that Opteron will be much more effective there...
    3. When Intel releases their mp Xeon Nocona, I suspect that 4 and 8 way Opteron systems will blow their doors rationale is that the 1GHz HT links and AMD's MOESI cache protocol gives them a huge advantage in scaling processors.
  • Staples - Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - link

    Now this is interesting. Somewhere were Intel comes out on top by a big margin. Reply
  • fitten - Monday, February 14, 2005 - link

    BTW... there is a new chipset (or some new chipsets) being released soon along with the Smithdale CPU. I don't know if it fixes the IOMMU issue or not, but it might be worth a look... Reply
  • Viditor - Monday, February 14, 2005 - link

    "no mention in any of the access scenarios is described as 32bit..."

    Oops...yes it does.

    "Some devices, such as a large majority of PCI cards cannot directly access memory above the 4GB point"

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now