Chips Put to the

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-06-09 Print this article Print

Test"> But, to underscore his point, Skaugen referenced a series of Intel tests that showed a Woodcrest server drawing roughly 40 to 50 fewer watts at the wall then a similar AMD Opteron machine when both were attached to a power meter and put through the SPECint Rate Base 2000 test.

The Woodcrest machine, an Intel "Star Lake" white box system fitted with its 3GHz Xeon 5160 and eight 1GB memory modules, used 267 watts in the test. The AMD machine, an HP ProLiant server based on 2.6GHz Opteron 285 chips and eight 1GB DDR2 memory modules, used 307 watts, the Intel test showed.
The test basically showed that the Intel Woodcrest server averaged less power over a given period of time on a series of five benchmarks, including marks such as SPECs SPACjjb2005 and SPECint_rate_base_2005, versus the AMD-based machine, Skaugen said.
"What we really want to know is whats the watts at the wall, if you will," he said. "Watts at the wall is lower for Intel than for AMD." The AMD spokesperson criticized Intels choice of benchmarks and said that the test was one of many potential matchups. Others, he said, have shown AMD systems using less power. "Theres certainly going to be some configurations, Id guess, where Opteron will be at parity," Skaugen said. The Intel watts-at-the-wall-test underscores Intels assertion that Woodcrest servers average power consumption will be less than AMD Opteron machines, while offering better performance, giving Intel back the edge in performance per watt, Skaugen said. AMD doesnt necessarily agree there, either, the spokesperson said. The chip maker plans to deliver increased performance per watt during the quarter, when it will roll out a revised version of its Opteron chip that sports redesigned circuitry and a new DDR2 memory controller, the AMD spokesperson said. Turning away form Xeon MP, Skaugen said that Intel feels confident about Tulsas performance and that the company would being producing Montecito, its dual-core Itanium 2 chip, this month. The Itanium 2 chips will also be identified with model numbers in the 9000 range, similar to Intels Xeon MP 7000s and Xeon DP 5000s, the company indicated. Tulsa, Skaugen said, will allow Intel to get back into the game in multiprocessor servers, an area where AMDs Opteron has been strong of late. Even Dell, once an Intel-only shop, has chosen to offer multiprocessor servers based on the Opteron. "We have lost share on Xeon MP particularly in the performance space. We got behind on performance, shame on us," he said. But, "With the performance were seeing out of Tulsa…were confident that we have a significant lead on transaction performance…the primary criteria on which I think we lost share is addressed by the Tulsa product." Read more here about how one customer left Dell in search of AMD Opteron servers. Although he didnt offer additional details on the 95-watt Tulsa chips, Skaugen said more than half of the Tulsas it offers will be 95 watts. The company will offer a Tulsa chip with 16MB of onboard level 3 cache memory. That chip, it has said, will run at 150 watts. But despite its performance of late in the multiprocessor space, Intel didnt lose Dells business completely, Skaugen said. "We expect them to be one of our best Tulsa customers," he said. Instead, "What Dell announced was augmentation of their product line." Given that PC makers are likely to continue offering the choice, he said, its up to Intel to convince their customers to pick machines based on its processors. "Ultimately, the customer will decide," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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