The Opteron may have a slight disadvantage here as it has a 1200W PSU instead of a 1000W unit. We had no choice as our 1U server with 1000W PSU that we used in our previous reviews is not supported by ESX. Our Supermicro SC828TQ-R1200LPB 2U works very well with ESX, but it may consume a few extra Watts. (Or perhaps not - without testing both PSUs we really don't know their efficiency curves.) All Xeons use the exact same chassis, motherboard and power supply. We decided to test with both 16GB and 32GB. In our benchmarking scenario we only needed 16GB, as our VMs were very processing intensive and didn't need more memory. In the real world, it is much more likely that most of your VMs need far less processing power and will require more memory (especially when you run more VMs). The extra data point allows you to understand how much power eight extra DIMMs require, allowing you to estimate how much power your setup will consume.

System Power Comparison
  Typical CPU load Power with 6 VMs
at full load (16GB)
Power with 6 VMs
at full load (32GB)
Xeon 7330 (2.4GHz) 91-96% 456 541
Xeon 7350 (2.93GHz) 90-95% 605 692
Xeon X7460 (2.66GHz) 85-90% 502 587
Opteron 8356 (2.3GHz) 95-99% 485 534

It's amazing to see that the 6-core X7460 is capable of staying well below its older 65nm brother, the X7350 at 2.93GHz. Both CPUs have the same TDP, but the 6-core X7460 consumes 25W less per CPU than the X7350. Part of this can be explained by slightly lower CPU usage as the 24 cores do not have to work as hard to handle the six VMs. The X7460 is a huge chip, but that does not prevent the newest Xeon from performing 45% better while consuming 25W less per CPU.

Transactions per Watt
Xeon 7330 (2.4GHz) 3.93
Xeon 7350 (2.93GHz) 3.26
Xeon X7460 (2.66GHz) 5.59
Opteron 8356 (2.3GHz) 5.26

This table also helps explain why it is so important for Intel not to wait for a Xeon Nehalem MP to regain the performance crown. The current Xeon 73xx MP line takes a serious beating from the Opteron when it comes to virtualized performance/Watt. However, this table also makes it clear that the current Opteron has no chance of beating the 45nm Xeon MP. If we use the 8360SE (2.5GHz) instead of the 8356, performance will rise 8% at the most, but power consumption will probably increase by 20-30%, resulting in an even worse performance/Watt result.

ESX 3.5 Update 2 Virtualization Results Limitations and Conclusion


View All Comments

  • steveyballme - Sunday, November 16, 2008 - link

    I think I'm in love people!

  • duploxxx - Thursday, November 13, 2008 - link

    your virtualisation life was very short, perhaps marketing can keep you alive for a while since on paper you are better with the amount of cores.

    your 24 cores @2,66ghz are just killed by 16cores @2,7ghz

  • steveyballme - Tuesday, October 28, 2008 - link

    Why are you people showing Windows XP dialog boxes for this stuff! The new processor works best with Vista people!

  • Photubias - Thursday, November 6, 2008 - link

    No XP boxes but Windows 2003 boxes. It is a Server!! Reply
  • synergyek - Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - link

    Why only testing scanline render? It's a slow and old monster. Can you add mental ray render to your tests or, maybe, vray, which is used in arch. visualizations? Also you can use Maya 32/64-bit (software, hardware, mental ray tests) for both windows and linux platforms. Mental ray on Vray uses all cores available in the system, and results must be much better, than ordinary scanline. Reply
  • duploxxx - Saturday, September 27, 2008 - link

    Nice article, altough in virtualisation with VMmark it was already clear that the new dunnington had more headroom with the additional cores.

    only few remark, since you are talking about a retail price of +25000euro you could at least add for information that there are 8socket barcelona for about 5000euro more that scale again way better then dunnington with its 32 cores. So indeed intel did a step up again after there tigertown was heavy beaten by new barcelona in 4s even in low speed but at a certain cost of platform, afterall this dunnington is not cheap. it will be the question what a 4s shangai @3.0 ghz will do against this 6 core giant, afterall it is a huge die and the shangai will be way cheaper and consume less.

    lets hope you update this nice article with the soon to be released shangai.
  • Sirlach - Friday, September 26, 2008 - link

    From my research when the hex cores were announced the super micro boards came with an x16 slot. Is it possible to see how CPU restricted multithreaded games perform on this monster? Since it is running server 2008 this is theoretically possible!
  • BaronMatrix - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    It seems like a better comparison would be with the number of cores the same. You could take a 4S and remove one chip and match that against a 2S Dunnington.

    From what I saw, it is nowhere near 50% faster though it has 50% more cores plus 4 times the cache. It looks like Intel may NEVER catch up with Opteron. Shanghai will just increase the difference.

    It's just a shame Hector decided to have a "devalue the brand name" fire-sale or we'd be much closer to Bulldozer and SSE5.
  • trivik12 - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    4S has been one market where AMD dominated even after conroe's release. With Tigerton intel chipped away AMD's market share bcos of barcelona issues. with Dunnington Intel has a performance advantage. U dont look at per core performance but overall platform performance. AMD needs to catch up soon bcos with beckton AMD will be behind 8th ball in that market as well. Reply
  • snakeoil - Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - link

    intel is cannibalizing nehalem this are desperate measures from a desperate man.
    this is a dead end road, sooner or later intel will have to dump the front side bus,but its evident that intel is not very confident about nehalem and quick path.
    these processor are the last kick of an agonizing technology.
    this is just a souped up old car. nothing more.

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