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.

Technology Outlook


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  • Ganjalf - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    You're correct! The Opteron has a 36-51% lead over the Paxville. Reply
  • Theunis - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    What about power consumption and heat dissipation? More heat would require more power for air conditioners? More power to the server room requires, the more money you have to spend to maintain the solution. Reply
  • Jason Clark - Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - link

    How about a separate article, short but go through powernow and the numbers?

  • Jason Clark - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    We wanted to do power consumption numbers, however the Opteron was a 110V system and the Paxville is a 220V system :)...

  • Ecmaster76 - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    Err, you can measure power on a 220V system too. Its not that hard and the numbers will certainly be comparable. Reply
  • AnandThenMan - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link


    We wanted to do power consumption numbers, however the Opteron was a 110V system and the Paxville is a 220V system :)...

    What difference does that make exactly? Wattage is wattage. The supply voltage has no effect on total system power draw. Perhaps the Intel box draws too much power for the measuring equipment to handle. ;>)
  • mino - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    It MAKES adifference of around 3-5% in favor of the 220V system(whatever system it is)

    The same efficiency PSU is generally 3-5% more efficient than 110V one. To convert from 220 to 12V is simply "easier" than to go from 110V. This is also the reason 12V rail is employed for powering CPU's and GPU's PWMs. It is simply more efficient.

    However the power comparison would not hurt since Dempsey would be used in real system so the Intel system handicap would be offset somehow.

    Seems K8L is gona come right on time for Core MP chips...
  • Lifted - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    Agreed, doesn't make a difference since a co-lo is giving you an certain Amp circuit with your rack, regardless of the voltage you need, and will charge you more per Amp required. Reply
  • xtremejack - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    Didnt paxville come out in Q4 last year, why this review now? We all know Paxville was just a stop-the-bleed solution by Intel, to get a Dual-Core Xeon. It was never expected to be a performance part at all. So why this no-brainer review? The market's moved on. A point in Paxville's favour is its virtualization support though. Reply
  • DrMrLordX - Monday, April 24, 2006 - link

    Even worse, Paxville is an older chip than Dempsey. I have to wonder if Intel's best MP offering is a 3 ghz Paxville chip. Is this true? If so, why? Intel has released 3.6 ghz Dempsey-based Xeons have they not? Dempsey and Paxville aren't too far off from one another, but if I recall correctly, Paxville was based off Smithfield while Dempsey was based off Presler (making Dempsey superior to Paxville).

    If Intel can't ship anything better than a 3 ghz Paxville in 4-way configurations, it's no wonder that they're losing. AMD has also released the Opteron 885, meaning the benchmarks we just saw were not run using AMD's best 4-way/8-way chip!

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