What Intel and AMD Are Offering

Before we can dive into benchmarks, it is good to see how the vendors position their CPUs. Before we do that, here's a quick spec sheet overview of the most important AMD and Intel CPUs.

Processor Speed and Cache Comparison
Model Number
of cores
Clock speed L2 Cache (KB) L3 Cache (MB) Interconnect
(one direction)
AMD Opteron 8439 SE 6 2.8 6 x 512 KB 6MB 9.6GB/s
Intel Xeon X7460 6 2.66 3 x 3MB 16MB Via FSB & chipset
AMD Opteron 8435 6 2.6 6 x 512 KB 6MB 9.6GB/s
Intel Xeon E7450 6 2.4 3 x 3MB 12MB Via FSB & chipset
AMD Opteron 8431 6 2.4 6 x 512 KB 6MB 9.6GB/s
Intel Xeon E7440 4 2.4 2 x 3MB 16MB Via FSB & chipset
AMD Opteron 8389 4 2.9 4 x 512 KB 6MB 8.8GB/s
Intel Xeon E7430 4 2.13 2 x 3MB 12MB Via FSB & chipset
Intel Xeon E7420 4 2.13 2 x 3MB 8MB Via FSB & chipset

Excluding the low power models, AMD offers three hex-core CPUs and Intel offers two. The gap between the top Xeon models and the midrange is remarkable: the 7440 only has four cores. That means that there is probably - roughly estimated - a gap of 30 to 50% performance between the 7440 and 7450. That gap does not exist in the AMD line-up: the Opteron 8389 has also four cores but clocks 21% higher than the 8431. The performance gap is therefore small. The pricing reflect our remarks:

Intel Xeon Model Speed (GHz) /
Price AMD Opteron Model Speed (GHz) /
X7460 2.66/ 130W $2729 8439 SE 2.8 / 105-125W $2649
      8435 2.6 / 75 - 115W $2649
E7450 2.4 / 90W $2301 8431 2.4 /75 - 115W $2149
E7440 2.4 / 90W $1980 8389 2.9 / 75- 115W $2149
E7430 2.13 / 90W $1391 8387 2.7 / 75 -115W $1865
E7420 2.13 / 90W $1177 8378 2.4 / 75 -115W $873
Dual Sockets
X5570 2.93 / 95W $1386      
X5550 2.66 / 95W $958 2435 2.6 / 75-115W $989

AMD feels that the E7450 is no match for the 8435. As a result, the latter comes with a pretty heavy price tag. Whether this is justified is easy to check, even if we do not test the E7450 in this review. As the E7450 is the same die as the X7460 at a slightly lower voltage and clock speed, the E7450 is about 7 to 8% slower than the X7460. The 2.4GHz 8378 is quite interesting: still clocked at a decent 2.4GHz, it is by far the cheapest quad socket processor. As the number of VMs that you can run on a server is often limited by the amount of memory and not processor power, a quad 8378 might make sense.

The question remains whether the best dual socket processors of Intel or AMD are a threat to the quad socket servers. Two X5570 will set you back less than $2800, while four Xeon E7420 start at $4700. Even a relatively entry-level X7430 2.13GHz based server (32GB, 4 CPUs) will cost in the range of $13000. That is three times as much as similar dual 2435 servers and 2.6 times as much as a dual X5550 machine. That is why we include the fastest dual socket machines in this test too.

Platforms Overview Benchmark Methods and Systems
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  • Casper42 - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - link

    I know its late, but on page 4 of this article you say your using a Dual 2389 setup where each chip is Quad Core.

    Somehow that morphs into a "Quad Opteron 2389" on page 6 both in the text and in the graphic. Since a Quad 2xxx is not possible, is this a Dual 2389 or a Quad 8389?

    Then on page 7 it becomes a Quad Opteron 8389

    Am I losing my mind?

    I see now that both a Quad 8389 and a Dual 2389 are listed in Page 4, but why on earth did you guys bounce back and forth so much between them?
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, October 6, 2009 - link

    You are not losing your mind. The Quad 2389 is a quad 8389 of course. I have fixed the error. Thanks.

    The dual sockets machines were mostly used to check how the software scales (MS SQL server, virtualization) and how the power consumption compares to the quad socket machines. I hope this makes it clear?

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