AMD: back in the quad-socket race

On April 9, 2008, AMD had an answer to the quad-socket, quad-core Intel platform. To quickly get an idea of what AMD and Intel are offering, let us take a look at the 1K pricing:

Server CPU Pricing
AMD CPU Price Intel CPU Price
Opteron 8360 SE 2.5GHz (125W) $2,149 Xeon X7350 2.93 GHz
(130W, 2x4MB L2)
Opteron 8358 SE 2.4GHz (125W) $1,865 Xeon E7340 2.4 GHz
(80W, 2x4MB L2)
Opteron 8356 2.3GHz (95W) $1,514 Xeon E7330 2.4 GHz
(80W, 2x3 MB L2)
Opteron 8354 2.2GHz (95W) $1,165 Xeon E7310 2.13 GHz
(80W, 2x2 MB L2)
Opteron 8350 2.0GHz (95W) $873 Xeon E7310 1.6GHz
(80W, 2x2 MB L2)
Opteron 8347 HE 1.9 GHz (68W) $873 Xeon L7345 1.86 GHz
(50W, 2x 4 MB L2)

The worst offerings are the Opteron 8358 SE and the Xeon MP L7345. The Opteron 8358 SE will clearly lose the performance per Watt battle. We have serious doubts there is any reason of existence for the Opteron 8358 SE, as it is hardly faster than the 8356 and consumes much more energy. The OEMs agree: the Opteron 8358 SE cannot be found anywhere.

The Xeon MP L7345 price is baffling. Buy an HP ProLiant BL680c G5 and you'll pay about $22,000 for a blade with four Xeon L7345 and 32GB of RAM. Compare that with the same blade equipped with four E7330 which costs $16700. HP does not offer (yet?) the low performance Opterons which is a shame, considering that a 1.9GHz 8347 performs competitively with the Intel options (which we'll see in a moment). An HP ProLiant Bl685c G5 with Opteron 8347 HE would cost about $15000. A saving of $7000 per blade server is no small change, so we hope that HP will offer this soon. This would also put pressure on Intel to lower the price of the L7345.

The Opteron 8354 and 8350 are probably the most competitive offerings from AMD. The E7330 is most likely the best price/performance Intel chip, while the X7350 will be the performance chip to beat.

Beauty contest

One IT journalist described a CPU as "a slice of silicon with needles under it". We cannot help it; we still get a kick of having a massive quad-core CPU between our forefinger and thumb. On the outside, the quad-core Xeon "Tigerton" looks a lot like the dual-core Xeon "Tulsa". It uses the same packaging…

The impressive Intel Xeon Tigerton

… And the same 604-pin socket. The old ("Tulsa") and the new Xeon are not electrically compatible, but the 45nm successor ("Dunnington") will be completely compatible with the Xeon "Tigerton" 73xx motherboards. Or put another way, both "Tigerton" and "Dunnington" will use the same "Caneland" platform based on the 7300 chipset.

The good old ZIF socket: not as fragile as the modern LGA socket

The newest third generation Opteron uses the flip chip Land Grid Array (LGA) with 1207 pins on the motherboard. That makes it a bit scary to change CPUs as these LGA pins are very fragile. We prefer the good old ZIF socket.

The new Opteron 8356 is a worthy opponent for Intel's Xeon MP.

Let us take a look at the platform.

Index Platform Comparison
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