Opteron vs. Xeon performance battle goes into the next round

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Sunnyvale (CA) – AMD today released new performance benchmark results for its fastest Opteron processors and reclaims the performance crown in the 2P dual-core arena. While these specific numbers are on AMD’s side, it really depends on your view, which company has the fastest 2P processor: Intel points to its quad-core CPU and says nothing has changed in the performance arena.

“As we are coming up to the fourth birthday of Opteron,” said Pat Patla, director of server and workstation marketing at AMD, “we’re still shipping the fastest dual-core 2P processor.” In fact, the numbers do look good on AMD’s presentation. The 3.0 GHz Opteron 2222SE outpaces Intel’s Xeon 5160 in three server-specific benchmarks (SPECint_rate_2006, SPECint_rate2006, SPECompM2001) by up to 24%. In other benchmarks, such as Fluent, the advantage approaches 40%.     

Intel does not contest the results, but spokesperson Nick Knupffer, still described AMD’s claims as “rubbish”. According to Knupffer, AMD is comparing a newly released processor (Opteron 2222SE) with a “one-year-old processor” (Xeon 5160) and not with Intel’s fastest 2P parts, the 5300-series quad-core processors. But AMD says that the market for quad-cores is rather small and only 5% of the 2P market are currently quad-core processors. Intel fired back and told us that of course AMD would say that, because the company does not have a shipping quad-core processor yet.

Many buyers of 2P processors likely will not care about a few percentages on the very high end of the performance scale, as the speed capability of such a CPUdepends on a very specific application environment. According to AMD, most buyers anyway go for the mainstream processors, which offer a balance of performance and low power consumption. But we do understand that especially when it comes to either high performance or low power consumption, the battle between AMD and Intel quickly heats up and can get emotional. Looks like a healthy competition to us.