Market Analysis

Let us take a quick look at the complete market to see how the most interesting CPUs from Intel and AMD compare. In the first column, you see the market. In the second column is the percentage of server shipments to this market. Some markets generate more revenue to server manufactures like ERP, OLTP, and OLAP; however, since we have no recent numbers on this, we'll just mention it. We compare the Opteron "Shanghai" 2.7GHz with the Xeon "Harpertown" 3GHz as they have similar pricing and power dissipation. The green zones of the market are the ones we have a decent benchmark for and which are won by AMD, the blue ones are the Intel zones, and the red parts are - for now - unknown.

AMD "Shanghai" Opteron 2.7 GHz versus Xeon "Harpertown" 3 GHz
Market Importance First bench Second bench Benchmarks/remarks
ERP, OLTP 10-14% 21% 5% SAP, Oracle
Reporting, OLAP 10-17% 27%   MySQL
Collaborative 14-18% N/a    
Software Dev. 7% N/a    
e-mail, DC, file/print 32-37% N/a   Not really a "CPU loving" market
Web 10-14% 2%   MCS eFMS
HPC 4-6% 28% -3% to 66% LS-DYNA, Fluent
Other 2%? -18% -15% 3DSMax, Cinebench
Virtualization 33-50% 34%   VMmark

Yes, our benchmarks do not cover the whole market. However, keep in mind that for a large percentage of the "infrastructure" servers, the CPU is not really an important factor for the buying decision. We are convinced that once we have setup a good "collaborative benchmark" we cover most of the server market where the CPU performance makes a difference.

What do we learn from this overview? The new quad-core Opteron 2384 or 8384 is a success. It's a late success, but it can keep its most important competitor at a tangible distance in ERP, OLAP, and HPC. For ERP, OLTP, and OLAP, we are pretty sure our benchmarks give a good view. SAP, Oracle, and MySQL are very popular applications each in their own field, and the SQL server results of our "AMD Opteron Shanghai" review show more or less the same picture. In these markets, it will be hard to find benchmarks that contradict our findings

The HPC market is a lot more diverse, and since we have a limited knowledge of this market, we are sure that there are examples that show the complete opposite picture of the benchmarks we have shown here. Still, the Ansys benchmarks are good representatives of a decent part of this market.

The benchmark that really convinces us that currently the Opteron has the advantage is VMmark. Being able to consolidate 27% (14 vs. 11 tiles) to 33% (8 vs. 6 tiles) more virtual machines translates immediately into considerable cost savings. Those 27 to 33% more VMs do not result in a performance hit, as the total consolidated performance rises 34% and more. Considering that most IT investments in these uncertain times will target at cutting costs, that is a huge plus for AMD.

The Opteron Killer? Closing Thoughts
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  • zpdixon42 - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    DDR2-1067: oh, you are right. I was thinking of Deneb.

    Yes performance/dollar depends on the application you are running, so what I am suggesting more precisely is that you compute some perf/$ metric for every benchmark you run. And even if the CPU price is less negligible compared to the rest of the server components, it is always interesting to look both at absolute perf and perf/$ rather than just absolute perf.

    Reply
  • denka - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    32-bit? 1.5Gb SGA? This is really ridiculous. Your tests should be bottlenecked by IO Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    I forgot to mention that the database created is slightly larger than 1 GB. And we wouldn't be able to get >80% CPU load if we were bottlenecked by I/O Reply
  • denka - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    You are right, this is a smallish database. By the way, when you report CPU utilization, would you take IOWait separate from CPU used? If taken together (which was not clear) it is possible to get 100% CPU utilization out of which 90% will be IOWait :) Reply
  • denka - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    Not to be negative: excellent article, by the way Reply
  • mkruer - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    If/When AMD does release the Istanbul (k10.5 6-core), The Nehalem will again be relegated to second place for most HPC. Reply
  • Exar3342 - Wednesday, December 24, 2008 - link

    Yeah, by that time we will have 8-core Sandy Bridge 32nm chips from Intel... Reply
  • Amiga500 - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    I guess the key battleground will be Shanghai versus Nehalem in the virtualised server space...

    AMD need their optimisations to shine through.


    Its entirely understandable that you could not conduct virtualisation tests on the Nehalem platform, but unfortunate from the point of view that it may decide whether Shanghai is a success or failure over its life as a whole. As always, time is the great enemy! :-)
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    "you could not conduct virtualisation tests on the Nehalem platform"

    Yes. At the moment we have only 3 GB of DDR-3 1066. So that would make pretty poor Virtualization benches indeed.

    "unfortunate from the point of view that it may decide whether Shanghai is a success or failure"

    Personally, I think this might still be one of Shanghai strong points. Virtualization is about memory bandwidth, cache size and TLBs. Shanghai can't beat Nehalem's BW, but when it comes to TLB size it can make up a bit.
    Reply
  • VooDooAddict - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    With the VMWare benchmark, it is really just a measure of the CPU / Memory. Unless you are running applications with very small datasets where everything fits into RAM, the primary bottlenck I've run into is the storage system. I find it much better to focus your hardware funds on the storage system and use the company standard hardware for server platform.

    This isn't to say the bench isn't useful. Just wanted to let people know not to base your VMWare buildout soley on those numbers.
    Reply

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