AMD got the attention of Microsoft with their 64-bit Athlon 64/Opteron platform, and it was enough attention to warrant a new OS port to x86-64. Just weeks ago AMD scored another victory, with Intel announcing the adoption of AMD's 64-bit extensions to x86.

Future Xeon and Pentium 4 processors will ship with the x86-64 extensions enabled but architecturally they will be identical to the currently available Prescott based Pentium 4. The architectural similarity between Intel's IA-32e ad IA-32 processors (IA-32e is Intel's marketing equivalent to AMD64) is an important point to note as it means that if Opteron is able to outperform Xeon in 32-bit mode, it will maintain a performance advantage in 64-bit mode as well. We are assuming that Intel has no specialized hardware to improve 64-bit performance over AMD's solution, so the Xeon vs. Opteron comparisons we've brought you in the 32-bit world should still hold true in the 64-bit world later this year.

There has been much editorializing about Intel's recent 64-bit announcement, and we'll add nothing more than this to it all: it's a very good thing that Intel has gone the x86-64 route, it will mean that we see software support, drivers and overall market acceptance sooner. We have AMD to thank for Intel's backing x86-64, which is a big feather in AMD's cap but if there's one thing to be said about business it's that there's no room for pride.

Intel made the right decision; they would be losing sales if they didn't adopt x86-64, leaving those who needed a 64-bit x86 solution no option other than Opteron. However Intel gives AMD nothing if they adopt x86-64 in their own CPUs; AMD's sales don't increase and remember what we said about pride in business.

We'll talk more about Intel's upcoming 64-bit Xeons (Nocona and Potomac) in the conclusion, but let's get to what we're all here to see today: AMD's Opteron and Intel's Xeon go head to head in a real-world database serving comparison.

We compared the two titans in our web serving tests late last year, where AMD left Intel in a cloud of dust. Now the stakes are much higher, can Intel's deeply pipelined architecture contend with AMD's server-grown Opteron?

A Confusing Market
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  • Rand - Friday, May 20, 2005 - link

  • perlgreen - Tuesday, June 1, 2004 - link

    Is there any chance that you guys could do more tests and benchmarking on Linux for IT Computing/Servers? I really like your site, but it'd be really nice if there would be more stuff for fans of the Penguin!


  • ragusauce - Friday, March 5, 2004 - link

    We have been building from source and trying different options / debug versions...
  • DBBoy - Friday, March 5, 2004 - link

    #47 - In OLAP, or poorly indexed environments where the amount of data exceeds the 4 MB L3 cache of the Xeons the Opteron is going to shine even more with it's increased memory bandwidth.

    Assuming you do not bottleneck on the disk IO the SQL cache/RAM will be utilised much more thus putting more of a burden on the FSB of the Xeons in addition to allowing the Opteron's memory bandwidth to display it's abilities.
  • Jason Clark - Friday, March 5, 2004 - link

    ragusauce, using binaries or building from source?

  • ragusauce - Friday, March 5, 2004 - link

    We have been doing extensive testing of MySQL64 on Opteron and have had problems with seg faults as well.
  • zarjad - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    Great, thanks.
    My thoughts:
    In this type of application you are likely to use more than 4GB memory.
    Memory bandwidth should matter because you will be doing a lot of full table scans (as opposed to using indexes).
  • Jason Clark - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    zarjad, I'll get back to you on that question I have some thoughts and amd discussing them with one of the guys that worked with us on the tests (Ross).
  • zarjad - Thursday, March 4, 2004 - link

    Jason, any comments on #47?
  • Jason Clark - Wednesday, March 3, 2004 - link

    The os used was windows 2003 enterprise which does indeed support NUMA. So NUMA was enabled.. this was covered in an earlier response.

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