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


View All Comments

  • Bruce Herndon - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    I'm surprised by your comments. You claim that VMmark is a CPU/memory-centric benchmark. If I look at the raw data in the VMmark disclosure for Dell's R905 score of 20.35 @ 14 tiles, I see that the benchmark is driving 250-300 MB/s of disk IO across several HBAs and storage LUNs. This characteristic scales with the various systems mentioned in the article.

    As a designer of VMmark, I happen to know that both storage bandwidth (for the fileserver) and latency (for mail and database)are critical to acheiving good VMmark scores. Furthermore, the webserver drives substantial network IO. The only purely CPU-centric component to VMmark is the javaserver. Overall, the benchmark does exercise the entire virtualization solution - hypervisor, CPU, memory, disk, and network.
  • cdillon - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    While SAS and Infiniband share some connectors and obtain similar data rates, they are incompatible technologies with two different purposes. Infiniband can be used for disk shelf connections, but it is less common and definitely not the case here. You should not call the connection between the Adaptec 5805 controller and the disk shelf an "Infiniband connection", even if it is using Infiniband connectors and cables, it is simply an SAS connection.

  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    Well, the physical layer is Infiniband, the used protocol is SCSI. I can understand calling it an "infiniband connection" maybe confusing, but the cable is an infiniband cable. Reply
  • shank15217 - Friday, December 26, 2008 - link

    Anand, I think the above poster is right. The Adaptec RAID 5805 uses SFF-8087 connectors but the protocol is SSP (Serial SCSI Protocol). Infiniband is a physical layer protocol that shares the same connector as SAS but they are not the same. Nothing in the Adaptec RAID 5805 spec mentions Infiniband as a supported protocol.">
  • niva - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    I'm not sure you can run your same ol benchmark for rendering, and I'd really like more insight into what you guys are rendering and if it's indeed using all 16/24(six core 4 point system)/32(hyperthreading) cores on the system.

    What renderer, what scene, details details...

    These chips get gobbled up by render farms and this is indeed where they can really flex their muscles to the fullest.
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    Just click on the link under "we have performed so many times before" :-) Reply
  • akinneyww - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    I read DailyTech and to keep up with the latest in IT. I appreciate the thought that has gone into putting together this article. I would like to see more articles like this one. Reply
  • Jammrock - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    The VMware results shocked me the most. I know AMD has been working hard on the virtualization sector and it looks like their work has paid off. Reply
  • classy - Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - link

    With the rapid increase of virtualization, AMD is looking really strong. We have begun using 3.5 Vmware and are expanding the use of it. Virtualization is truly becoming a big thing in server choice. Reply

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