The Eon of Xeon

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In the unfolding saga of quad-core server goodness, was able to get their hands on Intel’s upcoming 45nm 3.0GHz Harpertown Xeon, benchmarking against the 65nm Clovertown Xeon and Barcelona Opteron quad core parts. As we all expected, the 3.0GHz Harpertown trumps Barcelona in absolute numbers (sometimes up to 56%!) due to both its higher clock speed and new micro-architecture improvements. Interestingly, performance-per-watt numbers were also quite favorable, despite the platform’s greedy FB-DIMMs:

Barcelona uses the least amount of watts at idle and manages to come close to the new Harpertown parts on AS3AP; however, Intel due to its 1GHz clock advantage takes the lead on every other benchmark, particularly at higher loads.

The guys at the TechReport agree:

This higher clock-per-clock performance comes alongside a considerable drop in peak power use at 3GHz—from 403W for the Xeon X5365 system to 311W for the Xeon E5472 system—and a smaller but welcome drop in power draw at idle. The faster performance and lower power consumption together make the Stoakley/Harpertown combo an excellent “performance per watt” proposition, as our measure of energy required to render a scene demonstrated. In fact, no other solution was close in this respect. The new Xeons’ weakness on the efficiency front remains power draw at idle, a problem largely attributable to Intel’s continued use of FB-DIMM memory. For this reason, AMD’s quad-core Opterons remain competitive in terms of overall power efficiency.

AMD needs to push Barcelona’s clock speed as fast as possible to remain competitive. Intel would do well to reconsider it’s memory platform. But heck, Intel will do well anyway.