Servers

Intel and AMD chase the upgrade cycle

Andy Moon reports on Intel's new Xeon 5600 chip line and AMD's new processor strategy. Find out how the companies are chasing the upgrade cycle in different ways.

Intel announced its new line of microprocessors on Tuesday, making claims of a five month return on investment and a 15:1 consolidation estimate. The new Xeon 5600 chip line is truly impressive and, according to the company's analysis, a third of the servers currently in use are running processors made four or more years ago.

AMD is chasing the same upgrade cycle, but it's going after it in a slightly different way than Intel. AMD's upcoming strategy will be to change the dynamic somewhat by making more processors available by bringing down the price of four-processor servers. AMD's bet is that it can get better performance per watt by increasing the number of processors in each server. If AMD is able to reduce the price jump between two- and four-processor servers, it may be able to increase the number of four-processor servers out there over the 5% where it is now.

Both companies are also adding features to their chips; Intel has added features that improve performance when dealing with encrypted files, and AMD is engineering a line that includes graphics processing for laptop and netbook markets.

AMD is hovering at about 9% of server chip sales and has hovered around 30% market share overall for the past few years; if AMD is ever going to seriously challenge Intel, it must find a way to tip the scales in its favor.

The last time I bought servers, I was very surprised at the big price and size difference between two- and four-processor machines; I remember the difference being substantial enough that a four-processor machine wasn't even under serious consideration. If AMD can cram more processing power in a rack than Intel, its similar performance per watt numbers would give the company an edge it could use.

I have long been processor agnostic; the very first 486 I ever owned was AMD, and I would definitely consider AMD if I could get more processing into my data center or reduce the number of racks necessary to do the job.

Weigh in on whether you think AMD's new strategy will pay off.

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13 comments
Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I usually buy AMD processors because I can afford it. I'm really happy with the technology. It does the same thing for a lesser price than Intel products. That's it in a nut shell.

benwal91
benwal91

I would recommend AMD in servers. Even though I used my first linux server that had Intel ViiV or something like that. I havent really used AMD in servers, but I can guarantee that it will do good. Later on I will build a server with AMD.

Belhocines
Belhocines

It has always been the same way between Intel and AMD. When one claims an advantage the other claims an other one. These are typically 'commercials' not more.

x167
x167

The ratio of speed per watt and how much can actually get done in a second Is a BIG i mean REALLY BIG gap. To get back up or on top of the market AMD needs to not only increase speed but implement some newer technology Like Intel's Encryption tech. Adding more Cpu's per rack although will slightly increase how much can be done, but seriously is not really going to decrease the amount of energy used or wasted. I personally Like AMD more than Intel due to the stability of their processors, but if they don't start implementing new tech they will soon loose it all.

azbat
azbat

There is always performance to view when purchasing CPUs, but cost more often than not also factors in when it gets to the final stretch before ordering. This seems to be where AMD still holds strong, either desktop or server, their highest rated CPU has for the most part been lower than Intel. If they can cram more cores into the CPU like they have been and see if they can lower the price of the 2 and 4 way boards and chipsets now that they also own ATI, maybe they can push the market better and gain better footage.

ben@channells
ben@channells

For instance Intel Core 2 Duo in a latop are than a Turion mobile athlon.... on the desktop ther is little between them except cost. But on the server side try and buy a mainstram server with a AMD chip nearly all are Intel Xeon's.Which is a pity as the AMD Opteron are very good and in many ways better than Xeon's. There was a minor issue of 32bit instruction handleing on the AMD which was better on Xeon. I've used the Quad core opteron in Sun Starfire servers and they run both 64 bit Solaris and Windows 2003/2008 and FAB runing Oracle 10g on Solaris or Windows. But the performance difference to a HP DL380 is near idential when SQL 2005 is installed but picks up if Exchange 2007 is installed. Until support for true 64 bit CPU's are wider we are stuct with 32 OS and EMT64 and intel CPU's

QAonCall
QAonCall

Recently bought 2 identical asus machines except for the motherboard and chip (Intel Quad Core vs AMD quad). I was very pleased and surprised to find that the amd chip was faster (to the user) running 64 bit W2k8 Server r2 with active directly and domain controller. Both were for small offices so the need was minor but the performance was stunning. If amd attacks this market I think others will find them deserving of more. I have not installed and run any machines with 'i' stamp yet...I guess maybe I just thought they were exclusively for 'iApples' now! ;)

JCitizen
JCitizen

Intel become a single trust issue. I plan on upgrading my dual core quad to AMD ASAP.

oholland
oholland

Warning, I am not a scientist but I have real work experience with both manufactures. I have several AMD servers running slightly different processors. For those who need specs, research it for yourselves. My exchange server runs dual AMD Opteron dual cores HP DL385 G1 and I ahave DL 145 G2 and G3 servers. I also have Dell Poweredge 2900 running dual core Xeons. Frankly, I love the AMD Opterons and in the DL385, were the first true dual core processors (before Intel released theirs) The server runs cool and as solid as a rock. I have nothing negative regarding Intel but I prefer AMD and can't wait to upgrade to their new 6 core processors. I need not go into more details as each server can be reviewed seperately.

rimpac99
rimpac99

I started out with an AMD 486/66 CPU and have never ever bought Intel. Don't plan on buying Intel in the future either. But, recently, I was not too happy with what AMD is offering me. I was startled to find that I could not tell the performance difference between my old AMD X2 4000+ and the newer AMD X3 440 running at 3Ghz! I have to run a CPU benchmark to see if I really do have the newer cpu. I think the upgrade cycle for processors have run its course. The bottleneck is the HDD but those SSDs are way too expensive for my budget.

speculatrix
speculatrix

We bought a Dell 2950 and 2970, the former was dual Intel Xeon L5420, the latter dual AMD Opteron 2384HE, and then tried a Dell R710 with dual L5520. We found the 2950 had better onboard management than the 2970, somehow the latter didn't seem quite as well integrated with the remote management controller as the Intel-based machine. Power consumption wasn't that different betweem the 2950 and 2970 despite expecting the AMD 'HE' processor to be good. Then we tried the R710 and the performance gain was impressive and the power consumption very good. We've ended up buying loads of the R710s and been pretty happy with them. The only caveat is that the Xeon L5520 is utterly dependent on its cache to maintain performance so frequent context switching with large apps really degrades performance. Our bespoke in-house application is mainly java based, is CPU and memory intensive, not so heavy on disk.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Not very scientific. What are they comparing it to exactly? - their old machine perhaps?

JCitizen
JCitizen

Sometimes if the CPU can't handle a slower bus it will just run the same as before. But then I'm sure you already know how to match motherboard, RAM, and bus speed already. Sometimes at these lightning speeds you really can't tell the difference. Then you start working with video authoring or a really big data base, and the real difference shows up big time! That is why I will probably switch to AMD to get something in a quad, doing better that 2.66 Ghz. Competition is good!

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