Finally. 7 months after the introduction of Intel's "Tigerton" Xeon 73xx series, AMD has an answer to the quad socket, quad-core Intel platform. The importance of the quad socket market cannot be understated for AMD. The quad socket market is only 10% of the x86 server CPU market (shipments), but it accounts for roughly 20% of the revenues! And it has been AMD's stronghold for years now: at the moment, AMD still holds about 42% of this market. The 4P product line is probably keeping AMD afloat....

AMD launches the B3 "no-TLB bug" Opterons today, with clock speeds of 2.3GHz (8356), 2.2GHz (8354) and 2GHz (8350). Hotheaded (125W) 2.5GHz and 2.4GHz Special Editions will follow. We are preparing a full AMD vs. Intel 16-core benchmark fest, but the boards and servers that will house our Opteron 8356 CPUs still haven't arrived.

Let us take a look at Intel's and AMD's 1K pricing:

Server CPU Pricing
CPU Price Intel CPU Price
Opteron 8360 SE 2.5GHz
(125W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$2149 Xeon X7350 2.93GHz
(130W, 2x4MB L2)
Opteron 8358 SE 2.4GHz
(125W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$1865 Xeon X7340 2.4GHz
(80W, 2x4MB L2)
Opteron 8356 2.3GHz
(95W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$1514 Xeon X7330 2.4GHz
(80W, 2x3 MB L2)
Opteron 8354 2.2GHz
(95W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$1165 Xeon X7310 2.13GHz
(80W, 2x2 MB L2)
Opteron 8350 2.0GHz
(95W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$873 Xeon X7310 1.6GHz
(80W, 2x2 MB L2)

The Opteron 8354 and 8350 look like the most competitive offerings; they have a small clock speed advantage over the comparable Intel CPUs and about the same amount of cache. As we have discussed in depth in our 2P Opteron 23xx versus Intel Xeon 54xx review, quad-core Intel is the best processor in all CPU intensive tasks (rendering, chess, SPECint, financial simulations...). Meanwhile, the quad-core Opteron is best in some memory and FP intensive workloads (many HPC applications).We don't expect anything to change with the B3 Barcelona cores, but there are still two question marks: who will win the server (OLTP, Warehouse) and virtualization benchmarks? We will find out in a few weeks.

AMD also launched their B3 23xx series, but frankly, we are disappointed that AMD's fastest quad-core is still only at 2.3GHz; AMD promised 2.5GHz months ago! 2.5GHz really is necessary to be competitive with Intel, who passed the 3GHz quad-core wall back in 2007. Even worse, Intel already has 50W parts at 2.5GHz. AMD is in defensive mode in the 2P market, and its only remaining weapon is aggressive pricing.

Things are looking better in the 4P market however. AMD's platform scales better, at least until Intel's Nehalem arrives - and Xeon "Nehalem" MP CPUs won't be available until 2009. In addition, AMD's newest quad-core has to compete with Intel's 65nm CPUs that are limited to 2.4GHz at 80W TDP for now. AMD has a narrow window to make a good impression in the quad socket market, ramp up clock speeds, and prepare for Intel's Dunnington in Q3. With up to 16MB L3 cache and six cores per die, Dunnington looks massive - but perhaps also a bit expensive.

We're not the only ones that have noticed AMD most likely has (we're not convinced until we see all our tests J) a competitive quad socket CPU. HP is the most enthusiastic tier-one OEM with two quad Opteron models:

The fast growing blade market seems to like the third generation Opteron. As the 5000V chipset with DDR2 support is not available for the Xeon Tigerton, the latter is a bit harder to cool in a cramped blade environment. However, HP does have a quad Tigerton blade, the HP ProLiant DL680c G5 blade.

Eight blades in a 10U blade chassis (two HDs per blade) is not bad, but HPC specialist Supermicro does even better with 10 x 16 cores in a 7U enclosure (one HD per blade). Rackable, Appro, and Synnex also launch their newest Opteron models today.

According to AMD and HP, The HP ProLiant DL585 G5 set a new performance record for 4-socket, x86-based systems in TPC-C Price/tpmC, and the HP ProLiant BL685c G5 server set a new record for SPECfp_rate2006. HP's 8356 system scored 147 baseline while the best Intel based result is around 108. However, it should be noted that Specfp_rate 2006 exaggerates the importance of memory bandwidth. SPECFP2006 already runs with a rather large footprint, and if you run 16 instances in parallel....

Although the 83xx series will perform excellently in HPC, we don't believe that the difference will be this large, even in memory intensive applications. We definitely need some good independent benchmarking. Stay tuned and add to your bookmarks!

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  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    Intel's Xeon 5472 runs at 3 GHz and needs 80W TDP, so there is nothing misleading there. And Yes, I agree that Intel's 130W models are hotheaded too. If you look at the article, you'll see that I was trying to contrast the difference between the current 2.3 and 2.4/2.5 GHz SE AMD CPUs. Just 100 MHz more, and you get a 31% increase in power (and in reality it is probably more).
  • highlandsun - Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - link

    Let me know if you want help setting up an LDAP benchmark.
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - link


    Please contact me on my mail: johan at
  • ap90033 - Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - link

    All but one AMD use more power. Im interested to see how these CPU's REALLY perform. If they are the same or slower then why bother? They are playing catch up and need something a lot better.
  • Justin Case - Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - link

    AMD and Intel calculate "power" differently. AMD calculates the maximum power the chip could possibly draw (based on transistor count), Intel calculates the "maximum power use under intensive load", whatever that means. Also, AMD CPUs have a built-in memory controller, which is in the northbridge for Intel systems. In other words, comparing CPU power figures is irrelevant; you always need to compare (at least) CPU + MB + RAM.

    As to "why bother", well, from the point of view of a consumer (which I suspect is not even your case, for these models), it's a great thing they "bother". If one of the manufacturers were left without competition, prices would skyrocket (like they did with Xeons before the Athlon MP / Opteron, and like they did with the Opteron in the PresHott days).
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - link

    don't look at cpu power consumption only, for sure not in a tigertown config. you have massive power consumption of the FBdimm (since you don't want a 16core server with only 8-16GB ram and the chipset power is also allot.

    @anand how are you going to test virtualization? vmmark?

    nice to see you take the bench right from the start, even with only 2,3-2,5 barcelone Intel knows they are in deep 4p trouble... and nehalem 4p release is indeed for 2009, but that is very optimistic, for sure its not on the q1-q2 2009 roadmap yet....

    when will you do a 2s compare?
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - link

    "nice to see you take the bench right from the start, even with only 2,3-2,5 barcelone Intel knows they are in deep 4p trouble... and nehalem 4p release is indeed for 2009, but that is very optimistic, for sure its not on the q1-q2 2009 roadmap yet...."

    I see the stupid fanboys are alive and well in the server arena too...
  • duploxxx - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    no, the fools that have no clue about server performance
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    Like you?
  • Nehemoth - Wednesday, April 9, 2008 - link

    I would like to see benchmarks inside a virtualize server, after all this is the real way in which we would use virtualization.

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