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)
$2301
Opteron 8358 SE 2.4GHz
(125W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$1865 Xeon X7340 2.4GHz
(80W, 2x4MB L2)
$1980
Opteron 8356 2.3GHz
(95W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$1514 Xeon X7330 2.4GHz
(80W, 2x3 MB L2)
$1391
Opteron 8354 2.2GHz
(95W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$1165 Xeon X7310 2.13GHz
(80W, 2x2 MB L2)
$1177
Opteron 8350 2.0GHz
(95W, 4x0.5 MB L2 + 2MB L3)
$873 Xeon X7310 1.6GHz
(80W, 2x2 MB L2)
$856

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 http://it.anandtech.com to your bookmarks!

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  • Amiga500 - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    Do you intend to run solely server benchmarks, or also compare typical HPC software? Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    At this point, we understand the Linpack benchmark very well, so most likely we'll include Linpack. If you have suggestions for other HPC benchmarks which do not require complex setup and do not require tens of hours of benchmarking, I am open to suggestions. Reply
  • Amiga500 - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    The NAS benchmarks might be nice, but it would take you some time to get through the paperwork etc to actually get hold of the programs, never mind set them up and run (although I think some are pretty much tuning-free).

    Its probably not worth the hassle, but if your interested:

    http://www.nas.nasa.gov/Resources/Software/npb.htm...">http://www.nas.nasa.gov/Resources/Software/npb.htm...



    Reply
  • americantabloid - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    Hi, will you look into the Sun T2 and compare it to Intel and AMD as you previously did with the T1?

    Best regards
    at
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    Not in the short term. The problem is that server + virtualization testing is pretty complex. We first want to get it right on VMWare/Xen/Hyper-V on x86 before we try out Sun's T2. VMWare/Hyper-V surely won't run on the T2 and I would be amazed that Xen already runs well on the T2.

    So a T2 and x86 comparison would mean that we also need to include yet another Hypervisor and OS (we have a bit of experience in Solaris, but not much), which is a bit beyond our available expertise and manpower :-).
    Reply
  • somedude1234 - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    I'm pricing out a few 2P servers for storage application testing.

    I'm looking to future proof with pci-e 2.0 for 8 Gpbs fibre channel, 10 Gbps ethernet, and 6 Gpbs SAS adapters coming up.

    For Xeon, the 5400 series of CPU's and chipset are the only choice. I'm amazed how much of a server you can get for $2.5k today, even if you have to pay for FB-dimm's.

    What are my options on the opteron end of things? I don't see anything from either HP or Supermicro for 2P barcelona + pci-e 2.0 systems.
    Reply
  • jefmes - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    I'm not sure about it being pci-e 2.0, but take a look at the DL385 G5

    http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF05a/1535...">http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm...351-3328...

    We've been using the DL380 G5 for VMWare ESX 3.02 for a while now, and it's become my favorite server for most deployments. The DL385 G5 looks to be nearly the same but AMD flavored.
    Reply
  • GregD - Wednesday, April 09, 2008 - link

    Has everyone seen this?
    http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/servers/prolian...">http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/servers/prolian...
    Reply
  • dijuremo - Wednesday, April 09, 2008 - link

    Minus 1 point for being so bad at math... 8cpus*4cores/cpu=32cores not 64. Reply
  • GregD - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - link

    Sorry, you're right - I was just reading about the 8 core AMD's that are comint out in 2009 - a little ahead of myself Reply

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