In the Linux benchmarks comparing the Xeon E5320 to the Opteron 2356 processors, Barcelona technology was the clear winner. However, that was to be expected. The Xeon E5320 "Clovertown" represents Intel's initial quad-core design, which has been surpassed by Intel's Harpertown. In addition, the E5320 processors are clocked at 1.83GHz, which is in starch contrast to the Opteron 2356 CPUs running at 2.30GHz. With the available hardware at hand, however, those are the results to show.
If you are interested in comparing your system's performance to the single and dual AMD Opteron 2356 configurations, install the Phoronix Test Suite for your distribution and then proceed to run phoronix-test-suite benchmark michael-30964-29321-9146. Doing so will run the same benchmarks in an identical configuration to the tests performed in this article using the Phoronix Test Suite. If you are unfamiliar with the Phoronix Test Suite, check out this article. You can also view these results on PTS Global.
When it comes to comparing four versus eight Barcelona cores, there was of course strong performance advantages most notably in the GCC compilation tests thanks to twice the number of jobs. In Nexuiz, SPECViewPerf, and the other tests, the additional processor hadn't shed any advantages but some small loses due to the software packages not being SMP-optimized. Ubuntu 8.04 LTS is using the GCC 4.2 branch, but once it upgrades against GCC 4.3 in Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex", there should be additional performance advantages due to the SSE4a instruction set and other optimizations.
As we have yet to test Intel's Xeon E5400 "Harpertown" processors we cannot say a winner in the Intel vs. AMD processing war for quad-core CPUs. However, with the Harpertown parts being clocked higher and other Intel advancements, benchmarks published so far on this topic show Intel taking the performance crown for both raw performance and performance-per-watt. AMD does have the benefit, however, for offering 4-way capabilities.
The only disturbance we ran into with the Opteron 2356 processors were PowerNow technology not working with Ubuntu 8.04 Beta with the Linux 2.6.24 kernel. We suspect, however, that this issue should be addressed in the near future with cpufreq.
As far as pricing goes, a single AMD Opteron 2356 will set you back $670 USD. On the Intel side, their 2.33GHz Xeon E5410 Harpertown only costs $284.99 and their 2.66GHz part will run you $500 USD.
While AMD may not be the winner this round on the server/workstation front, they are hard at work on developing their K10 successor known as Fusion. Exact details surrounding AMD's Fusion is still scare, but it will combine general CPU and GPU cores into a single processor package. This new architecture will increase the CPU performance in multi-parallel computing tasks while the modular CPU cores will continue to crunch numbers and handle the traditional tasks. The computing core codenames for the Fusion timeframe are Bulldozer, a native octal-core Sandtiger, and a low-power Bobcat. Coming up sooner on AMD's roadmap will be their Opteron quad-core refresh known as Montreal, which will feature 12MB of L3 cache.
We'll have more Linux benchmarks of the AMD Opteron 2300 processors (and Intel's Harpertown processors, hopefully) in the near future under different environments along with reviews of the Tyan Thunder n3600M and Gigabyte 3CESL v1.4 motherboards.
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