Dual CPU Shootout: Opteron vs. Xeon

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-12-03 Print this article Print

Even with an upgrade in memory support, can AMD's 64-bit Opteron 248 knock Intel's Xeon down for the count? ExtremeTech examines stability and performance with a new suite of workstation-class benchmarks.

Weve been covering AMDs 64-bit x86-64 "Hammer" architecture for quite some time now and are intrigued by its combination of 32-bit compatibility and performance, as well as the promise of a 64-bit future for desktop PCs. AMD divides up their 64-bit world into the Opteron and Athlon64 lines. The Opteron series is targeted at workstation and server use, while the Athlon64 products are aimed squarely at mainstream desktop PCs and notebooks.

Most of our coverage revolved around single processor systems, including our examination of Opteron on the desktop and the Athlon64 line of PC processors. Weve also looked at Athlon64 in the small form factor arena and the first shipping mobile Athlon64 notebook PC.
While PC Magazine has looked at multiprocessor Opteron systems, most of the coverage has focused on Opteron as a server platform. We decided it was time to take a look at Opterons performance in workstation class applications. Since AMD just released their Opteron 248 series of processors, it seemed like a good time to take a dive into the workstation waters.
The Opteron 200 series, with its integrated memory controller and three coherent HyperTransport links, is a natural for dual CPU systems. Lets take a look at how Opteron-based system architecture might differ from a more classical architecture. Click here to read the full article on ExtremeTech.com.
Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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