Posts Tagged ‘AMD’

h1

Quick Take: Dell/Nehalem Take #2, 2P VMmark Spot

September 9, 2009

The new 1st runner-up spot for VMmark in the “8 core” category was taken yesterday by Dell’s R710 – just edging-out the previous second spot HP ProLiant BL490 G6 by 0.1% – a virtual dead heat. Equipped with a pair of Xeon X5570 ($1386/ea, bulk list) and 96GB registered DDR3/1066 (12x8GB), the 2U, rack mount R710 weighs-in with a tile ratio of 1.43 over 102 VMs. :

  • Dell R710 w/redundant high-output power supply, ($18,209)
  • 2 x Intel Xeon X5570 Processors (included)
  • 96GB ECC DDR3/1066 (12×8GB) (included)
  • 2 x Broadcom NexXtreme II 5709 dual-port GigabitEthernet w/TOE (included)
  • 1 x Intel PRO 1000VT quad-port GigabitEthernet (1x PCIe-x4 slot, $529)
  • 3 x QLogic QLE2462 FC HBA (1x PCIe slot, $1,219/ea)
  • 1 x LSI1078 SAS Controller (on-board)
  • 8 x 15K SAS OS drive, RAID10 (included)
  • Required ProSupport package ($2,164)
  • Total as Configured: $24,559 ($241/VM, not including storage)

Three Dell/EMC CX3-40f arrays were used as the storage backing of the test. The storage system included 8GB cache, 2 enclosures and 15, 15K disks per array delivering 19 LUNs at about 300GB each. Intel’s Hyper-Threading and  “Turbo Boost” were enabled for 8-thread, 3.33GHz core clocking as was VT; however embedded SATA and USB were disabled as is common practice.

At about $1,445/tile ($241/VM) the new “second dog” delivers its best at a 20% price premium over Lenovo’s “top dog” – although the non-standard OS drive configuration makes-up a half of the difference, with Dell’s mandatory support package making-up the remainder. Using a simple RAID1 SAS and eliminating the support package would have droped the cost to $20,421 – a dead heat with Lenovo at $182/VM.

Comparing the Dell R710 the 2P, 12-core benchmark HP DL385 G6 Istanbul system at 15.54@11 tiles:

  • HP DL385 G6  ($5,840)
  • 2 x AMD 2435 Istanbul Processors (included)
  • 64GB ECC DDR2/667 (8×8GB) ($433/DIMM)
  • 2 x Broadcom 5709 dual-port GigabitEthernet (on-board)
  • 1 x Intel 82571EB dual-port GigabitEthernet (1x PCIe slot, $150/ea)
  • 1 x QLogic QLE2462 FC HBA (1x PCIe slot, $1,219/ea)
  • 1 x HP SAS Controller (on-board)
  • 2 x SAS OS drive (included)
  • $10,673/system total (versus $14,696 complete from HP)

Direct pricing shows Istanbul’s numbers at $1,336/tile ($223/VM) which is  a 7.5% savings per-VM over the Dell R710. Going to the street – for memory only – changes the Istanbul picture to $970/tile ($162/VM) representing a 33% savings over the R710.

SOLORI’s Take: Istanbul continues to offer a 20-30% CAPEX value proposition against Nehalem in the virtualization use case – even without IOMMU and higher memory bandwidth promised in upcoming Magny-Cours. With the HE parts running around $500 per processor, the OPEX benefits are there for Istanbul too. It is difficult to understand why HP wants to charge $900/DIMM for 8GB PC-5300 sticks when they are available on the street for 50% less – that’s a 100% markup. Looking at what HP charges for 8GB DDR3/1066 – $1,700/DIM – they are at least consistent. HP’s memory pricing practice makes one thing clear – customers are not buying large memory configurations from their system vendors…

On the contrary, Dell appears to be happy to offer decent prices on 8GB DDR3/1066 with their R710 at approximately $837/DIMM – almost par with street prices.  Looking to see if this parity held up with Dell’s AMD offerings, we examined the prices offered with Dell’s R805: while – at $680/DIMM – Dell’s prices were significantly better than HP’s, they still exceeded the market by 50%. Still, we were able to configure a Dell R805 with AMD 2435’s for much less than the equivalent HP system:

  • Dell R805 w/redundant power ($7,214)
  • 2 x AMD 2435 Istanbul Processors (included)
  • 64GB ECC DDR2/667 (8×8GB) ($433/ea, street)
  • 4 x Broadcom 5708 GigabitEthernet (on-board)
  • 1 x Intel PRO 100oPT dual-port GigabitEthernet (1x PCIe slot, included)
  • 1 x QLogic QLE2462 FC HBA (1x PCIe slot, included)
  • 1 x Dell PERC SAS Controller (on-board)
  • 2 x SAS OS drive (included)
  • $10,678/system total (versus $12,702 complete from Dell)

This offering from Dell should be able to deliver equivalent performance with HP’s DL385 G6 and likewise savings/VM compared to the Nehalem-based R710. Even at the $12,702 price as delivered from Dell, the R805 represents a potential $192/VM price point – about $50/VM (25%) savings over the R710.

h1

Quick Take: AMD Releases SE/HE Six-Cores

July 14, 2009

Today AMD published pricing for 5 new Istanbul SKUs – two designated as 105W APC high-performance SE and three as 55W APC low-power HE models.

In the SE category, the 2439SE and 8439SE at 2.8GHz replace the top-bin 2435/8435 Istanbul which occupies the 2.6GHz, 75W APC bin. Besides the clock frequency changes, maximum CPU temp is reduced from 76C to 71C. As with all other Istanbul’s so far, these are HT3 bus parts running at 4.8GT/s. Price per socket has been announced at $1,019 and $2,649 for the 2439SE and 8439SE, respectively.

While the new SE parts do little to help the Opteron surpass the X5560 in raw performance, they fit well into the price-performance picture for AMD so long as street prices for the X5560 continue to hover in the $1,200-1,300 range.

SPECint_rate2006 - AMD Istanbul SE SKU's

SPECint_rate2006 - AMD Istanbul SE SKU's

In the HE category, the 2425HE/8425HE and 2423HE are new clock speed bins running at 2.1GHz and 2.0GHz, respectively. These parts maintain the same 76C maximum CPU temp as the normal 75W ACP parts, but are selected to consume just 55W ACP. Again, these SKU’s also carry the 4.8GT/s HT3 bus of their Istanbul brethren. Pricing per socket has been announced at $523 and $1,514 for the 2425HE and 8425HE, respectively, with the 2423 HE targeted at $455 each.

SPECint_rate2006 - AMD Istanbul HE SKU's

SPECint_rate2006 - AMD Istanbul HE SKU's

Here, AMD’s lower power target and pricing help the chip maker do some profit-taking as the price-performance of the HE parts appear to offer a measurable advantage over the L5506 (60W TDP) which is circling the $475 region (street price). See AMD’s official press release about High Energy Efficiency and the Processing Power of Six-Cores for more details.

SOLORI’s Take: AMD has expanded the Istanbul line with both high-performance and low-power SKU’s as promised. With DDR3 prices inching downward, AMD’s price-performance position is eroding slowly as Q3/2009 approaches. However, the 2-to-1 price penalty for top-bin Xeon/Nehalem platforms will take a lot more time to overcome, leaving the AMD the solid choice for budget conscious virtualization.

What’s perhaps more exciting for AMD followers – especially in the good-enough performance market – is sitting in the HE bin. The HE shows weakness in the 2P space, however, against the 2.26GHz L5520 part from Intel which sports 8 thread per CPU and can burst core speeds in excess of 3GHz with its “turbo” feature. This places the 2P 2425 HE somewhere in-between L5506 and L5520 in performance-per-watt, with 2425 HE maintaining a reasonable price-performance advantage.

In the unchallenged 4P space, the 8425 HE, at 2.1GHz and $1,580 (est. street price) offers nearly 3:2 power savings over the standard part offering 24-cores at a little over 200W ACP (4P configurations). This savings will help scale-out clouds both private and public.

(Note: SPEC CPU results gathered from published tables at http://spec.org.)

Updated 7/15/2009:  Added link to AMD’s press release.

h1

Tyan S8212 Spotted

June 26, 2009
Tyan S8212 Istanbul SR5890+SP5100 Motherboard

Tyan S8212 Istanbul SR5690+SP5100 Motherboard

Thanks to a tweet from @ErikBussink and the quick thinking of Charlie Demerjian at SemiAccurate we’ve been treated to a picture of the upcoming Tyan S8212 (2-way) based on AMD’s new line-up of motherboard chip sets. While we see a x16 and 3 x8 PCIe slots, 6 SATA and 8 SAS ports, there is (conspicuously) no 10GE LOM – just 1GE.

What this board does deliver is HT3.0 and IOMMU support for Opteron/Istanbul and that’s a good thing for virtualization. We know from earlier discussions with AMD that Istanbul needs the SR5890 SR5690 to unlock its hidden potential. Two internal USB ports cry-out for flash booting options…

h1

ExtremeTech: Shanghai to Istanbul

June 22, 2009

ExtremeTech runs some tests on the AMD Istanbul 6-core processor and compares the 2435 (2.6GHz) part to the 2384 (2.7GHz) part in a drop-in replacement using PassMark and Spec_JBB2005. Testing was performed in the same Supermicro system running an updated (AGESA 3.5.0.0) BIOS supporting Istanbul processors.

“Perhaps, the most tell tale result comes from the BOPS rating scored using SpecJBB2005, which simulates a server’s ability to process JAVA code. Here, there was a 20% increase in performance, with BOPS increasing from 380721 to 471440. That 20% performance boost would [definitely] be noticed on a busy server in a data center.”

- Loyd Case, ExtremeTech.com

While not as thorough as Scott Wassman’s drop-in testing at TechReport (reported earlier this month), ExtremeTech’s results and conclusions were about the same: Istanbul makes a great upgrade processor.

“It all comes down to simple math, where one has to consider the cost of the CPUs and the time needed to perform an upgrade to see if the return on investment is worthwhile. Most will find that in this case, it is…”

- Lloyd Case, ExtremeTech

“And if you have existing, compatible Socket F servers, the Istanbul Opterons should be an excellent drop-in upgrade. They’re a no-brainer, really, when one considers energy costs and per-socket/per-server software licensing fees.”

- Scott Wassman, TechReport

Both ExtremeTech and TechReport make compelling upgrade arguments in their testing. Compared to a new system architecture like Nehalem, it is logistically less disruptive – technologically and economically – to certify a CPU upgrade versus as platform replacement. After internal certification, a BIOS and CPU upgrade takes about 20-minutes per system to implement. In a virtualized datacenter where low-level differences are abstracted-away by the hypervisor certification testing should be much less invasive. Likewise, rolling upgrades in a virtualized datacenter with vMotion technology can provide a non-disruptive path from 4-core to 6-core. As Case puts it:

“Simply put, by just upgrading five servers in a data center, data center managers can eliminate the need to purchase an additional server to meet performance needs.”

- Lloyd Case, ExtremeTech

However, this “upgrade proposition” is a difficult position for AMD as it does little to sell new systems. Historically, CPU upgrades only happen in 10-15% of the installed base, making CPU sales based on BIOS/drop-in upgrades an interesting footnote. Integrators want to move new hardware with Instanbul pre-installed, not sell “upgrade packages.” Perhaps the dynamics of the new economy will drive a statistical anomoly based on the strength of the Istanbul proposition. Datacenter managers face a familiar dilemma with some new twists.


h1

Tyan: New Istanbul BIOS Released

June 16, 2009

Tyan joins the AMD 6-core release cycle with “Istanbul-enabled” BIOS releases six 2P motherboards (and related systems). We here from a reliable source that the Tyan “twin” system (B2985, 2-node, 1U) BIOS is in “alpha” testing and will be released “soon.” Here’s what’s available now:

Dual-Opteron Motherboards (2000-series)

S2912-E, S2915-E, S2927, S2927-E, S2932, S2932-E

Notes

These BIOS releases were only available from Tyan’s FTP site (ftp.tyan.com, anonymous access) until now. As of 6/17/2009 you will find them on the BIOS helper from the product web page.

Also, we were surprised to find that the AGESA for the S4985 series (quad-socket) motherboards are still version 3.3.0.3 and are likely not Istanbul-ready. We do not have the S4985 in our testing lab to confirm of deny this, but we have been told by AMD that 3.5.0.0 is the minimum Istanbul supported AGESA.

h1

First 12-core VMmark for Istanbul Appears

June 10, 2009

VMware has posted the VMmark score for the first Istanbul-based system and it’s from HP: the ProLiant DL385 G6. While it’s not at the top of the VMmark chart at 15.54@11 tiles (technically it is at the top of the 12-core benchmark list), it still shows a compelling price-performance picture.

Comparing Istanbul’s VMmark Scores

For comparison’s sake, we’ve chosen the HP DL385 G5 and HP DL380 G6 as they were configured for their VMmark tests. In the case of the ProLiant DL380 G6, we could only configure the X5560 and not the X5570 as tested so the price is actually LOWER on the DL380 G6 than the “as tested” configuration. Likewise, we chose the PC-6400 (DDR2/667, 8x8GB) memory for the DL 385 G5 versus the more expensive PC-5300 (533) memory as configured in 2008.

As configured for pricing, each system comes with processor, memory, 2-SATA drives and VMware Infrastructure Standard for 2-processors. Note that in testing, additional NIC’s, HBA, and storage are configured and such additions are not included herein. We have omitted these additional equipment features as they would be common to a deployment set and have no real influence on relative pricing.

Systems as Configured for Pricing Comparison

System Processor Speed Cores Threads Memory Speed Street
HP ProLiant DL385 G5 Opteron 2384 2.7 8 8 64 667 $10,877.00
HP ProLiant DL385 G6 Opteron 2435 2.6 12 12 64 667 $11,378.00
HP ProLiant DL380 G6 Xeon X5560* 2.93 8 16 96 1066 $30,741.00

Here’s some good news: 50% more cores for only 5% more (sound like an economic stimulus?) The comparison Nehalem-EP is nearly 3x the Istanbul system in price.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Server Watch: Istanbul, G34, C32, Itanium and Nehalem-EX

May 29, 2009
Istanbul is launching in June, 2009 and will be a precursor to the G34 and C32 platforms to come in Q1/2010. To that end, AMD will be providing an overview of its next generation of Direct Connect Architecture, or DCA 2.0, which which separates Socket-F systems from G34/C32. This overview will be available as a live webcast on June 1, 2009 at 11:00AM Central Time. In advance of the announcement, AMD has (silently) reduced prices for its Opteron processors across the board. This move will place additional pressure on Intel’s Nehalem-EP systems already weakened (virtualization) price-performance.

We expect to hear more news about Istanbul’s availability in keeping with Tyan’s upcoming announcement next week. Based on current technology and economic trends, Istanbul and G34 could offer AMD a solid one-two punch to counter Intel’s relentless “tick-tock” pace. With Nehalem servers sales weak despite early expectations and compounding economic pressures, market timing may be more ideally suited for AMD’s products than Intel’s for a change. As Gartner puts it, “the timing of Nehalem is a bit off, and it probably won’t make much of an impact this year.”

In the meantime, Phil Hughes at AMD has a posted a personal reflection on Opteron’s initial launch, starting with the IBM e325 in 2003, and ending with Opteron’s impact on the Intel Itanium market by year-end (while resisting a reference to “the sinking of the Itanic“). Phil acknowledges Sun’s influence on Opteron and links to some news articles from 2003. See his full post, “The Sun Also Rises,” here… As 64-bit processors go, 2003 was much more the year of the Opteron rather than “the year of the Itanium” (as predicted by Intel’s Paul Otellini.)

Speaking of Itanium, TechWorld has an article outlining how Intel’s upcoming Nehalem-EX – with the addition of MCA technology derived from Itanium – could bring an end to the beleagered proprietary platform. TechWorld cites Insight 64 analyst Nathan Brookwood as saying the new Xeon will finally break Intel’s policy of artificially crippling of the x86 processor which has prevented Xeon from being competitive with Itanium. The 8-core, SMT-enabled EX processor was being demonstrated by IBM in an 8-socket configuration.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers