Opteron 2389: [Dual CPU] AMD Opteron 2389 — CPU benchmark

John McCalpin’s blog » Blog Archive » AMD Opteron “Shanghai” and “Istanbul” Local and Remote Memory Latencies

In an earlier post, I documented the local and remote memory latencies for the SunBlade X6420 compute nodes in the TACC Ranger supercomputer, using AMD Opteron “Barcelona” (model 8356) processors running at 2.3 GHz.

Similar latency tests were run on other systems based on AMD Opteron processors in the TACC “Discovery” benchmarking cluster.  The systems reported here include

  • 2-socket node with AMD Opteron “Shanghai” processors (model 2389, quad-core, revision C2, 2.9 GHz)
  • 2-socket node with AMD Opteron “Istanbul” processors (model 2435, six-core, revision D0, 2.6 GHz)
  • 4-socket node with AMD Opteron “Istanbul” processors (model 8435, six-core, revision D0, 2.6 GHz)
  • 4-socket node with AMD Opteron “Magny-Cours” processors (model 6174, twelve-core, revision D1, 2.2 GHz)

Compared to the previous results with the AMD Opteron “Barcelona” processors on the TACC Ranger system, the “Shanghai” and “Istanbul” processors have a more advanced memory controller prefetcher, and the “Istanbul” processor also supports “HT Assist”, which allocates a portion of the L3 cache to serve as a “snoop filter” in 4-socket configurations.   The “Magny-Cours” processor uses 2 “Istanbul” die in a single package.

Note that for the “Barcelona” processors, the hardware prefetcher in the memory controller did not perform cache coherence “snoops” — it just loaded data from memory into a buffer.  When a core subsequently issued a load for that address, missing in the L3 cache initiated a coherence snoop.   In both 2-socket and 4-socket systems, this snoop took longer than obtaining the data from DRAM, so the memory prefetcher had no impact on the effective latency seen by a processor core.  “Shanghai” and later Opteron processors include a coherent prefetcher, so prefetched lines could be loaded with lower effective latency.   This difference means that latency testing on “Shanghai” and later processors needs to be slightly more sophisticated to prevent memory controller prefetching from biasing the latency measurements.  In practice, using a pointer-chasing code with a stride of 512 Bytes was sufficient to avoid hardware prefetch in “Shanghai”, “Istanbul”, and “Magny-Cours”.

Results for 2-socket systems

Processor cores/package Frequency Family Revision Code Name Local Latency (ns) Remote Latency (ns)
Opteron 2222 2 3000 0Fh 60 95
Opteron 2356 4 2300 10h B3 Barcelona 85
Opteron 2389 4 2900 10h C2 Shanghai 73
Opteron 2435 6 2600 10h D0 Istanbul 78
Opteron 6174 12 2200 10h D1 Magny-Cours

Notes for 2-socket results:

  1. The values for the Opteron 2222 are from memory, but should be fairly accurate.
  2. The local latency value for the Opteron 2356 is from memory, but should be in the right ballpark.   The latency is higher than the earlier processors because of the lower core frequency, the lower “Northbridge” frequency, the presence of an L3 cache, and the asynchronous clock boundary between the core(s) and the Northbridge.
  3. The script used for the Opteron 2389 (“Shanghai”) did not correctly bind the threads, so no remote latency data was collected.
  4. The script used for the Opteron 2435 (“Istanbul”) did not correctly bind the threads, so no remote latency data was collected.
  5. The Opteron 6174 was not tested in the 2-socket configuration.

Results for 4-socket systems

Processor Frequency Family Revision Code Name Local Latency (ns) Remote Latency (ns) NOTES 1-hop median Latency (ns) 2-hop median Latency (ns)
Opteron 8222 3000 0Fh 90
Opteron 8356 2300 10h B3 Barcelona 100/133 122-146 1,2
Opteron 8389 2900 10h C2 Shanghai
Opteron 8435 2600 10h D0 Istanbul 56 118 3,4
Opteron 6174 2200 10h D1 Magny-Cours 56 121-179 5 124 179

Notes for 4-socket results:

  1. On the 4-socket Opteron 8356 (“Barcelona”) system, 2 of the 4 sockets have a local latency of 100ns, while the other 2 have a local latency of 133ns.   This is due to the asymmetric/anisotropic HyperTransport interconnect, in which only 2 of sockets have direct connections to all other sockets, while the other 2 sockets require two hops to reach one of the remote sockets.
  2. On the 4-socket Opteron 8356 (“Barcelona”) system, the asymmetric/anisotropic HyperTransport interconnect gives rise to several different latencies for various combinations of requestor and target socket.  This is discussed in more detail at AMD “Barcelona” Memory Latency.
  3. Starting with “Istanbul”, 4-socket systems have lower local latency than 2-sockets systems because “HyperTransport Assist” (a probe filter) is activated.  Enabling this feature reduces the L3 cache size from 6MiB to 5MiB, but enables the processor to avoid sending probes to the other chips in many cases (including this one).
  4. On the 4-socket Opteron 8435 (“Istanbul”) system, the scripts I ran had an error causing them to only measure local latency and remote latency on 1 of the 3 remote sockets.   Based on other system results, it looks like the remote value was measured for a single “hop”, with no values available for the 2-hop case.
  5. On the 4-socket Opteron 6140 (“Magny-Cours”) system, each package has 2 die, each constituting a separate NUMA node.  The HyperTransport interconnect is asymmetric/anisotropic, with 2 die having direct links to 6 other die (with 1 die requiring 2 hops), and the other 6 die having direct links to 4 other die (with 3 die requiring 2 hops).  The average latency for globally uniform accesses (local and remote) is 133ns, while the average latency for uniformly distributed remote accesses is 144ns.

Comments

This disappointingly incomplete dataset still shows a few important features….

  • Local latency is not improving, and shows occasional degradations
    • Processor frequencies are not increasing.
    • DRAM latencies are essentially unchanged over this period — about 15 ns for DRAM page hits, 30 ns for DRAM pages misses, 45 ns for DRAM page conflicts, and 60 ns for DRAM bank cycle time.    The latency benchmark is configured to allow open page hits for the majority of accesses, but these results did not include instrumentation of the DRAM open page hit rate.
    • Many design changes act to increase memory latency.
      • Major factors include the increased number of cores per chip, the addition of a shared L3 cache, the increase in the number of die per package, and the addition of a separate clock frequency domain for the Northbridge.
    • There have been no architectural changes to move away from the transparent, “flat” shared-memory paradigm.
    • Instead, overcoming these latency adders required the introduction of “probe filters” – a useful feature, but one that significantly complicates the implementation, uses 1/6th of the L3 cache, and significantly complicates performance analysis.
  • Remote latency is getting slowly worse
    • This is primarily due to the addition of the L3 cache, the increase in the number of cores, and the increase in the number of die per package.

Magny-Cours Topology

The pointer-chasing latency code was run for all 64 combinations of data binding (NUMA nodes 0..7) and thread binding (1 core chosen from each of NUMA nodes 0..7).   It was not initially clear which topology was used in the system under test, but the observed latency pattern showed very clearly that 2 NUMA nodes had 6 1-hop neighbors, while the other 6 NUMA nodes had only 4 1-hop neighbors.   This property is also shown by the “Max Perf” configuration from Figure 3(c) of the 2010 IEEE Micro paper “Cache Hierarchy and Memory Subsystem of the AMD Opteron Processor” by Conway, et al. (which I highly recommend for its discussion of the cache coherence protocol and probe filter).   The figure below corrects an error from the figure in the paper (which is missing the x16 link between the upper and lower chips in the package on the left), and renumbers the die so that they correspond to the NUMA nodes of the system I was testing.

The latency values are quite easy to understand: all the local values are the same, all the 1-hop values are almost the same, and all the 2-hop values are the same.   (The 1-hop values that are within the same package are about 3.3ns faster than the 1-hop values between packages, but this is a difference of less than 3%, so it will not impact “real-world” performance.)

The bandwidth patterns are much less pretty, but that is a much longer topic for another day….

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This entry was posted on July 27, 2012 at 9:41 am and is filed under Computer Hardware.
Tagged: memory latency, Opteron.
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Populaire specificaties

Klokfrequentie

Klokfrequentie

De standaard snelheid van de processor, uitgedrukt in GHz (=1000MHz).

2,9GHz
Aantal cores

Aantal cores

Het aantal processorkernen wat beschikbaar is. Als er meerdere processorkernen beschikbaar zijn kun je zwaardere processen draaien.

4
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Nee

Alles openensluiten

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Socket

Socket

De socket is de ‘houder’ waarin je de processor plaatst en deze daarna vastzet met een hendel.

F
Aantal cores

Aantal cores

Het aantal processorkernen wat beschikbaar is. Als er meerdere processorkernen beschikbaar zijn kun je zwaardere processen draaien.

4
Klokfrequentie

Klokfrequentie

De standaard snelheid van de processor, uitgedrukt in GHz (=1000MHz).

2,9GHz
Procestechnologie

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nm (nanometer) is de grootte van een transistor op de processor. Hoe kleiner dit is hoe meer transistors er op de chip passen.

45 nm
Thermal Design Power

Thermal Design Power

De TDP is de maximale hoeveelheid warmte die het koelsysteem van een chip geacht wordt nog af te kunnen voeren uitgedrukt in Watt.

75W

Video

Geïntegreerde graphics

Geïntegreerde graphics

Beschikt de processor over een geintereerde GPU (Graphics processing unit).

Nee

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CPU Cache Level 1 4x 32KB
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      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 8256
      1180412 Tyan Computer Corporation MCP55
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 8598
      1141057 Tyan Computer Corporation MCP55
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 8481
      923158 Tyan Computer Corporation MCP55
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 8687
      837162 System manufacturer System Product Name
      AMD Phenom X4 9500
      2210 MHz
      (1 cores)
      Windows x86 3919
      819610 System manufacturer System Product Name
      AMD Phenom X4 9500
      2210 MHz
      (1 cores)
      Windows x86 3919
      726437 Macmini2,1
      AMD Phenom X4 9500
      2210 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 3925
      716680 Hackintosh
      AMD Phenom X4 9500
      2200 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 3697
      639935 Tyan Computer Corporation MCP55
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 9052
      605774 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2218 HE
      2600 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 4024
      600444 Tyan Computer Corporation MCP55
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (8 cores)
      Windows x86 8633
      599852 Tyan Computer Corporation MCP55
      AMD Opteron 2356
      2300 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 6925
      598290 MacPro2,1
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2944 MHz
      (8 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 9155
      598272 empty empty
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 9111
      598268 empty empty
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 9013
      598267 empty empty
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 8945
      586164 MacPro2,1
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2964 MHz
      (8 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 8661
      586119 empty empty
      AMD Opteron 2389
      2900 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 8556
      574669 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2218 HE
      2600 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 4291
      574668 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2218 HE
      2600 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 4286
      557845 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2218 HE
      2600 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 4109
      554208 MacPro2,1
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (12 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 7620
      541127 Hackintosh
      Intel Pentium 4 531/630
      3000 MHz
      (1 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 1958
      538128 empty empty
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 7283
      537173 empty empty
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 7098
      536642 empty empty
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 6992
      529256 MacPro2,1
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (12 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 7730
      522946 Hewlett-Packard Pavilion zd8000 (EL052EA#UUG)
      Intel Pentium 4 531/630
      2992 MHz
      (1 cores)
      Windows x86 1636
      515117 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2218 HE
      2600 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 4121
      513749 Generic
      Intel Pentium D 830/925/930
      3165 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2252
      513636 Supermicro H8DM8-2
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (12 cores)
      Windows x86 8141
      512427 iPhone2,1
      ARMv7
      600 MHz
      (1 cores)
      iOS ARM 221
      510576 Supermicro H8DM8-2
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 7857
      510572 Supermicro H8DM8-2
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (12 cores)
      Windows x86 8042
      508798 Hackintosh
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1800 MHz
      (12 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 8143
      508717 Supermicro H8DM8-2
      AMD Opteron 2419
      1799 MHz
      (12 cores)
      Windows x86 7344
      508678 Supermicro H8DM8-2
      AMD Opteron 2218 HE
      2599 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 4122
      505911 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2216
      2400 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 3993
      505889 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2216
      2400 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 3792
      501684 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2216
      2400 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 3807
      500647 Hewlett-Packard HP xw9400 Workstation
      AMD Opteron 2216
      2400 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 3990
      496790 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2985
      493972 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2776
      486939 MacPro2,1
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2708 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 2887
      481151 MacPro2,1
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2708 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 2928
      478604 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 3141
      478602 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 3035
      478599 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2957
      478597 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2950
      477039 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 3069
      477022 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 3134
      477014 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 3094
      477013 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2994
      477006 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2976
      477000 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2958
      476999 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2941
      476994 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2869
      476856 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2613 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2658
      476842 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2613 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2989
      476735 Hackintosh
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2600 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 2917
      474785 Supermicro H8SMI
      AMD Opteron 1218 HE
      2612 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2848
      472832 System manufacturer System Product Name
      AMD Phenom X4 9500
      2325 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 3961
      441433 Generic
      Intel Pentium D 830/925/930
      3750 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2420
      441408 Generic
      Intel Pentium D 830/925/930
      3750 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2488
      441381 Generic
      Intel Pentium D 830/925/930
      3601 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2354
      441364 Generic
      Intel Pentium D 830/925/930
      3524 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2333
      441360 Generic
      Intel Pentium D 830/925/930
      3524 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2286
      441349 Generic
      Intel Pentium D 830/925/930
      3449 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2249
      415569 iBook (Opaque 16 VRAM)
      PowerPC 750FX
      800 MHz
      (1 cores)
      Mac OS X PPC 413
      404671 MacPro2,1
      AMD Phenom X4 9500
      2328 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 3806
      402862 Hackintosh
      AMD Phenom X4 9500
      2200 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Mac OS X x86 3784
      367312 System manufacturer System Product Name
      AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+
      2309 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2275
      356731 System manufacturer System Product Name
      AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+
      2309 MHz
      (2 cores)
      Windows x86 2253
      267834 System manufacturer System Product Name
      AMD Athlon 64 FX-55
      2729 MHz
      (1 cores)
      Windows x86 1899
      264493 System manufacturer System Product Name
      AMD Phenom X4 9500
      2301 MHz
      (4 cores)
      Windows x86 3928

      AMD chases Nehalem with speedier Shanghai • The Register

      Chip maker designer and marketeer Advanced Micro Devices has been forced to sit through all the glowing news about rival Intel’s «Nehalem EP» Xeon 5500 chips for the past three weeks, and now that the news has died down a bit, the company will today announce that it has cranked the clocks on its «Shanghai» quad-core Opteron processors while at the same time re-introducing ultra-low voltage and energy efficient parts that can take the fight to Intel.

      Today is also the sixth anniversary of the launch of the Opteron processor, a chip that put AMD on the map in the data center and which put Intel on the mat for two years until it got its act together and designed energy-efficient and yet powerful processors. The Nehalem EPs are, in fact, the closest thing to an Opteron that Intel has put in the field, and it is no coincidence that the design approaches pioneered by AMD with the Opteron were ultimately — if somewhat begrudgingly — adopted by Intel so it could compete in the x64 chip space.

      First, the clock cranks on the existing Shanghai chips. There are twelve new Shanghai chips: six Opteron 2300 chips for two-socket servers and six Opteron 8300 chips for four-socket and larger servers. The top-end Opteron Special Edition (SE) chip, which runs at 105 watts, has been boosted to 3.1 GHz, up from 2.8 GHz after a speed boost back in late January and the original launch back in November 2008, when the fastest Shanghai topped out at 2. 7 GHz — well short of the expected 3 GHz many had expected given the 45 nanometer process shrink AMD had done with the Shanghai chips compared to the 65 nanometer process used in the earlier «Barcelona» quad-core Opterons.

      There has been no process change to get slowly increasing clock speeds, just process refinements and bin sorting. In addition to that faster Opteron SE part, the top-end standard Opterons, which run at 75 watts, has been increased from 2.7 GHz to 2.9 GHz, and the Opteron Highly Efficient (HE) parts — which run at a lower voltage and therefore burn less juice and emit less heat (55 watts, in fact) — now have a maximum clock speed of 2.5 GHz, up from 2.3 GHz in January.

      As part of today’s 6th Opteron birthday celebration, AMD is also bringing back to life the so-called Opteron Extremely Efficient parts, which run at even lower voltage than the HE parts and therefore run at 40 watts at 2. 1 GHz and 2.3 GHz clock speeds. The Opteron HE and EE parts came to market almost a year after the initial Opterons were launched in April 2003, and while the HE parts have stayed in the main Opteron product line, the EE parts were relegated to an embedded division during the dual-core Opteron generation, rarely to be heard from again.

      Given all the talk about green IT and energy conservation, this seemed pretty stupid. But to be fair, AMD was charging too much of a premium for low and ultra low voltage parts at first, which meant only customers with really tight thermals and energy budgets in their data centers would be able to afford to indulge in Opteron EE parts, even if they did pay for themselves in juice savings over a three-year life of a server. By the way, the new Shanghai EE chips are only available for two-socket servers right now.

      «We’re finally back to the point where people are asking for the lowest power consumption for performance we can offer,» explains Steve Demski, product manager for AMD’s Opteron line. That’s why the Opteron EE parts are being resurrected. However, says Demski, they will not be available for purchase through normal retail channels and are being manufactured on a build-to-order basis for server partners who are probably going to use them in their hyperscale and cloud computing deals.

      Here’s how the volts and amps play out on the Shanghai standard, HE, and EE parts. The top-end Opteron 2389 runs at 2.9 GHz and has a minimum voltage of 1.15 volts and a maximum voltage of 1.325 volts. Maximum amps is 73.5. The top-bin Opteron 2381 HE part runs at 2.5 GHz and has the same min and max volts as the standard part, but only burns 51.2 amps. (Thus, the HE is really just a bin sort to get parts that run at lower amps). The faster 2.3 GHz Shanghai EE part runs at 2.3 GHz and has a voltage range of between 1.05 and 1.1 volts and has a max of 39.4 amps. The lower voltage as well as bin sorting brings the watts way down.

      Here’s the rundown on the new Shanghai Opterons, including their model number, their clock speeds, their wattages, and their single-unit prices for customers who buy 1,000-unit trays:

      • 2373 EE, 40 watts, 2. 1 GHz, $377
      • 2377 EE, 40 watts, 2.3 GHz, $698
      • 2379 HE, 55 watts, 2.4 GHz, $450
      • 8379 HE, 55 watts, 2.4 GHz, $1,165
      • 2381 HE, 55 watts, 2.5 GHz, $575
      • 8381 HE, 55 watts, 2.5 GHz,$1,514
      • 2387 standard, 75 watts, 2.8 GHz, $873
      • 8387 standard, 75 watts, 2.8 GHz, $2,149
      • 2389 standard, 75 watts, 2.9 GHz, $989
      • 8389 standard, 75 watts, 2.9 GHz, $2,649
      • 2393 SE, 105 watts, 3.1 GHz, $1,165
      • 8393 SE, 105 watts, 3.1 GHz, $2,649

      Demski says that unlike Intel’s Nehalem EPs, the HE and EE parts don’t make compromises on features, such as interconnect bandwidth, to make the watts go down. While AMD does not have a Turbo Boost mode or HyperThreading for the Shanghais, the lowest-wattage Nehalem parts have Turbo Boost and HyperThreading taken away. The HE and EE parts are full-blown Opterons, and clock for clock, they will give the same performance as standard Shanghai parts. ®

      Get our Tech Resources

      Intel’s Xeon W5580 processors — The Tech Report

      Ever since the introduction of the first Opteron, Intel has faced a formidable foe in the x86 server and workstation markets. AMD’s decision to integrate a memory controller into its processors and use a narrow, high-speed interconnect between CPUs and I/O chips has made it a perennial contender in this space. Even recently, while Intel’s potent Core microarchitecture has given it a lead in the majority of performance tests, Xeons have been somewhat hamstrung on two fronts: on the power-efficiency front by their prevailing use FB-DIMM type memory, and on the scalability front by the use of a front-side bus and a centralized memory controller.

      Those barriers for the Xeon are about to be swept away by today’s introduction of new processors based on the chip code-named Nehalem, a new CPU design that brings with it a revised system architecture that will look very familiar to folks who know the Opteron. Try this on for size: a single-chip quad-core processor with a relatively small L2 cache dedicated to each core, backed up by larger L3 cache shared by all cores. Add in an integrated memory controller and a high-speed, low-latency socket interconnect. Sounds positively.. Opteronian, to coin a word, but that’s also an apt description of Nehalem.

      Of course, none of this is news. Intel has been very forthcoming about its plans for Nehalem for some time now, and the high-end, single-socket desktop part based on this same silicon has been selling for months as the Core i7. Just as with the Opteron, though, Nehalem’s true mission and raison d’etre is multi-socket systems, where its architectural advantages can really shine. Those advantages look to be formidable because, to be fair, the Nehalem team set out to do quite a bit more than merely copy the Opteron’s basic formula. They attempted to create a solution that’s newer, better, and faster in most every way, melding the new system architecture with Intel’s best technologies, including a heavily tweaked version of the familiar Core microarchitecture.

      Since this is Intel, that effort has benefited from world-class semiconductor fabrication capabilities in the form of Intel’s 45nm high-k/metal gate technology, the same process used to produce “Harpertown” Xeons. At roughly 751 million transistors and a die area of 263 mm², though, the Nehalem EP is a much larger chip. (Harpertown is comprised of a pair of dual-core chips, each of which has 410 million transistors in an area 107 mm².) The similarity with AMD’s “Shanghai” Opteron core is, again, striking in this department: Shanghai is estimated at 758 million transistors and measures 258 mm².

      The Xeon W5580

      We have already covered Nehalem at some length, since it’s already out in the market in single-socket form. Let me direct you to my review of the Core i7 if you’d like more detail about the microarchitecture. If you want even more depth, I suggest reading David Kanter’s Nehalem write-up, as well. Rather than cover all of the same ground again here, I’ll try to offer an overview of the changes to Nehalem most relevant to the server and workstation markets.

      A brief tour of Nehalem

      As we’ve noted, Nehalem’s quad execution cores are based on the four-issue-wide Core microarchitecture, but they have been modified rather extensively to improve performance per clock and to take better advantage of the new system architecture. One of the most prominent additions is the return of simultaneous multithreading (SMT), known in Intel parlance as Hyper-Threading. Each Nehalem core can track and execute two hardware threads, to keep its execution units more fully occupied. This capability has dubious value on the desktop in the Core i7, but it makes perfect sense for Xeon-based servers, where most workloads are widely multithreaded. With 16 hardware threads in a dual-socket config, the new Xeons take threading in this class of system to a new level.

      Additionally, the memory subsystem, including the cache hierarchy, has been broadly overhauled. Each core now has 32K L1 instruction and data caches, along with a dedicated 256K L2 cache. A new L3 cache is 8MB in size and serves all four cores; it’s part of what Intel calls the “uncore” and is clocked independently, typically at a lower speed than the cores.

      The chip’s integrated memory controller, also an “uncore” component, interfaces with three 64-bit channels of DDR3 memory, with support for both registered and unbuffered DIMM types, along with ECC. Intel has decided to jettison FB-DIMMs for dual-socket systems, with their added power draw and access latencies. The use of DDR3, which offers higher operating frequencies and lower voltage requirements than DDR2, should contribute to markedly lower platform power consumption. The bandwidth is considerable, as well: a dual-socket system with six channels of DDR3-1333 memory has theoretical peak throughput of 64 GB/s.

      That’s a little more than one should typically expect, though, because memory frequencies are limited by the number of DIMMs per channel. A Nehalem-based Xeon can host only one DIMM per channel at 1333MHz, two per channel at 1066MHz, and three per channel at 800MHz. The selection of available memory speeds is also limited by the Xeon model involved. Intel expects 1066MHz memory, which allows for 12-DIMM configurations, to be the most commonly used option. The highest capacity possible at present, with all channels populated, is 144GB.

      Nehalem’s revised memory hierarchy also supports an important new feature: Extended Page Tables, which is again like a familiar Opteron capability, Nested Page Tables. Like NPT, EPT accelerates virtualization by relieving the hypervisor of the burden of software-based page table emulation. NPT and EPT have the potential to reduce the overhead of virtualization substantially.

      The third and final major uncore element in Nehalem is the QuickPath Interconnect, or QPI. Much like HyperTransport, QPI is a narrow, high-speed, low-latency, point-to-point interconnect used in both socket-to-socket connections and links to I/O chips. QPI operates at up to 6.4 GT/s in the fastest Xeons, where it yields a peak two-way aggregate transfer rate of 25.6 GB/s—again, a tremendous amount of bandwidth. The CPUs coordinate cache coherency over the QPI link by means of a MESIF protocol, which extends the traditional Xeon MESI protocol with the addition of a new Forwarding state that should reduce traffic in certain cases. (For more on the MESIF protocol, see here.)

      One of the implications of the move to QPI and an integrated memory controller is that the new Xeons’ memory subsystems are non-uniform. That is, getting to local memory will be notably quicker than retrieving data owned by another processor. Non-uniform memory architectures (NUMA) have some tricky performance ramifications, not all of which have been sufficiently addressed by modern OS schedulers, even now. The Opteron has occasionally run into problems on this front, and now Xeons will, too. One can hope that Intel’s move to a NUMA design will prompt broader and deeper OS- and application-level awareness of memory locality issues.

      Power efficiency has become a key consideration in server CPUs, and the new Xeons include a range of provisions intended to address this issue. In fact, the chip employs a dedicated microcontroller to manage power and thermals. Nehalem EP includes more power states (15) than Harpertown (4) and makes faster transitions between them, with a typical switch time of under two microseconds, compared to four microseconds for Harpertown. Nehalem’s lowest power states make use of a power gate associated with each execution core; this gate can cut voltage to to an idle core entirely, eliminating even leakage power and taking its power consumption to nearly zero.

      The power management microcontroller also enables an intriguing new feature, the so-called “Turbo mode.” This feature takes advantage of the additional power and thermal headroom available when the CPU is at partial utilization, say with a single- or dual-threaded application, by dynamically raising the clock speed of the busy cores beyond their rated frequency. The clock speed changes involved are relatively conservative: one full increment of the CPU multiplier results in an increase of 133MHz, and most of the new Xeons can only go two “ticks” beyond their usual multiplier ceilings. Still, the highest end W- and X- series Xeons can reach up to three ticks, or 400MHz, beyond their normal limits. Unlike the generally advertised clock frequency of the CPU, this additional Turbo mode headroom is not guaranteed and may vary from chip to chip, depending upon its voltage needs and resulting thermal profile. What headroom is available brings a “free,” if modest, performance boost to lightly threaded applications.

      A new platform, too

      Of course, this sweeping set of changes brings with it a host of platform-level alterations, not least of which is the modification of the role and naming of what has been traditionally called the north bridge chip, or the memory controller hub (MCH) in Intel’s world. Say hello, instead, to the I/O Hub, or IOH.

      A block digram of the Tylerburg chipset. Source: Intel.

      The new Xeons’ first IOH has been known by its code name, Tylersburg-36D, and will now be officially called the Intel 5520 chipset. True to its name, this IOH is focused almost entirely on PCI Express connectivity, with one QPI link to each of the two processors and a total of 42 PCIe lanes onboard—36 of them PCIe Gen2 and six Gen1. Those lanes can be apportioned in groups of various sizes for specific needs. Tylersburg also has an ESI port for connecting with an Intel south bridge chip, one of the members of the ICH9/10/R family; these chips provide SATA and USB ports, along with various forms of legacy connectivity.

      Tylerburg’s dual QPI links open up the possibility of dual IOH chips, which Intel has decided to enable for certain configurations. In this scenario, each Tylersburg chip is linked via QPI to a different CPU, and the two IOH chips are linked via QPI, as well. The primary IOH chip handles various system management and legacy I/O duties, while the secondary one simply provides 36 additional lanes of PCIe Gen 2 connectivity, for a total of 72 lanes in the system (plus six Gen1 lanes). That’s a tremendous amount of connectivity, but it’s in keeping with the platform’s high-bandwidth theme.

      Two large coolers and one DDR3 DIMM per channel in our test rig

      The new Xeons’ LGA1366-style socket

      Nehalem-based Xeons come in a much larger package (left) than the prior Xeon generation (right)

      The new Xeons drop into a new, LGA1366-style socket that looks, unsurprisingly, just like the Core i7’s. The CPU itself is housed in a larger package, as well, that dwarfs the Harpertown Xeons and their predecessors.

      Pricing and availability

      Here’s a quick overview of the new dual-socket Xeons models, along with key features and pricing.

      Model Clock

      speed

      Cores L3 cache QPI

      link

      speed

      Max

      DDR3

      speed

      TDP Turbo? Hyper-

      Threading?

      Price
      Xeon W5580 3. 2GHz 4 8MB 6.4 GT/s 1333MHz 130 W Y Y $1600
      Xeon X5570 2.93GHz 4 8MB 6.4 GT/s 1333MHz 95 W Y Y $1386
      Xeon X5560 2.8GHz 4 8MB 6. 4 GT/s 1333MHz 95 W Y Y $1172
      Xeon X5550 2.66GHz 4 8MB 6.4 GT/s 1333MHz 95 W Y Y $958
      Xeon E5540 2.53GHz 4 8MB 5.86 GT/s 1066MHz 80 W Y Y $744
      Xeon E5530 2. 4GHz 4 8MB 5.86 GT/s 1066MHz 80 W Y Y $530
      Xeon E5520 2.26GHz 4 8MB 5.86 GT/s 1066MHz 80 W Y Y $373
      Xeon L5520 2.26GHz 4 8MB 5. 86 GT/s 1066MHz 60 W Y Y $530
      Xeon E5506 2.13GHz 4 4MB 4.8 GT/s 800MHz 80 W N N $266
      Xeon L5506 2.13GHz 4 4MB 4.8 GT/s 800MHz 60 W N N $422
      Xeon E5504 2. 00GHz 4 4MB 4.8 GT/s 800MHz 80 W N N $224
      Xeon E5502 1.86GHz 2 4MB 4.8 GT/s 800MHz 80 W N N $188

      Nehalem has a plethora of knobs and dials available for product differentiation, and Intel has apparently decided to twiddle with them all. Each of them impacts performance in its own way, so choosing the right processor for your needs may prove to be something less than straightforward.

      On top of all of the possibilities you see in the table above, there’s the issue of L3 cache speed, a notable attribute that impacts performance, but one Intel hasn’t opted to document too clearly (as we learned with the Core i7.) As I understand it, the uncore elements in Nehalem chips can be clocked independently of one another, so the speed of the memory controller or the QPI link doesn’t necessarily correspond to the frequency of the L3 cache. The pair of processors we have for this first review, of the decidedly ultra-high-end, workstation-oriented Xeon W5580 variety, have a 2.66GHz L3 cache. So does the Xeon X5570, the top server model.

      The Opteron also edges forward

      Unfortunately, we don’t have a direct Opteron competitor to test against the Xeon W5580, primarily because AMD doesn’t make a dual-socket CPU that expensive. We do, however, have a pair of new “Shanghai” Opterons, model 2389, with a 2.9GHz core clock frequency (and a 2.2GHz L3/north bridge clock.) These are not “SE” parts, so they offer higher performance within the same power/thermal envelope as most mainstream Opterons, with a 75W ACP rating.

      The bigger news here may be the addition, at last, of HyperTransport 3.0 support to these Opterons. HT3 essentially doubles the bandwidth of a HyperTransport link, and at 2.2GHz, the link between our Opteron 2389s should operate at 4.4 GT/s and provide a total of 17.6 GB/s of bandwidth—quite close to the 19.2 GB/s supplied by the 4.8 GT/s QPI link on mainstream Nehalem variants. Upgrading to HT3 was as simple as dropping these new Opterons into our existing test system. This system’s Nvidia core logic chipset doesn’t support HT3, but the socket-to-socket interconnect automatically came up with HT3 enabled.

      The Opteron 2389 currently lists for $989, which makes it a direct competitor for the Xeon X5550. I’d certainly like to show you a performance comparison between these two chips, but unfortunately, time constraints and a minor flood in my office have prevented me from pursuing the matter. Perhaps soon.

      Our testing methods

      As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least three times, and the results were averaged.

      Our test systems were configured like so:

      Processors Dual Xeon E5450 3.0GHz Dual Xeon X5492 3.4GHz Dual
      Xeon L5430 2.66GHz
      Dual
      Xeon W5580 3.2GHz
      Dual
      Opteron 2347 HE 1.9GHz

      Dual
      Opteron 2356 2.3GHz

      Dual Opteron 2384 2. 7GHz
      Dual Opteron 2389 2.9GHz
      System
      bus
      1333
      MT/s

      (333MHz)

      1600
      MT/s

      (400MHz)

      1333
      MT/s

      (333MHz)

      QPI
      6.4 GT/s

      (3.2GHz)

      HT
      2.0 GT/s

      (1.0GHz)

      HT
      2.0 GT/s

      (1.0GHz)

      HT
      4.4 GT/s

      (2.2GHz)

      Motherboard SuperMicro
      X7DB8+
      SuperMicro
      X7DWA
      Asus
      RS160-E5
      SuperMicro
      X8DA3
      SuperMicro
      H8DMU+
      SuperMicro
      H8DMU+
      BIOS
      revision
      6/23/2008 8/04/2008 8/08/2008 2/20/2009 3/25/08 10/15/08
      North
      bridge
      Intel
      5000P MCH
      Intel
      5400 MCH
      Intel
      5100 MCH
      Intel
      5520 MCH
      Nvidia
      nForce Pro 3600
      Nvidia
      nForce Pro 3600
      South
      bridge
      Intel
      6321 ESB ICH
      Intel
      6321 ESB ICH
      Intel
      ICH9R
      Intel
      ICh20R
      Nvidia
      nForce Pro 3600
      Nvidia
      nForce Pro 3600
      Chipset
      drivers
      INF
      Update 9. 0.0.1008
      INF
      Update 9.0.0.1008
      INF
      Update 9.0.0.1008
      INF
      Update 8.9.0.1006
      Memory
      size
      16GB
      (8 DIMMs)
      16GB
      (8 DIMMs)
      6GB (6 DIMMs) 24GB (6 DIMMs) 16GB
      (8 DIMMs)
      16GB
      (8 DIMMs)
      Memory
      type
      2048MB
      DDR2-800 FB-DIMMs
      2048MB
      DDR2-800 FB-DIMMs
      1024MB
      registered ECC

      DDR2-667 DIMMs

      4096MB
      registered ECC

      DDR3-1333 DIMMs

      2048MB
      registered ECC

      DDR2-800 DIMMs

      2048MB
      registered ECC

      DDR2-800 DIMMs

      Memory
      speed (Effective)
      667MHz 800MHz 667MHz 1333MHz 667MHz 800MHz
      CAS
      latency (CL)
      5 5 5 10 5 6
      RAS
      to CAS delay (tRCD)
      5 5 5 9 5 5
      RAS
      precharge (tRP)
      5 5 5 9 5 5
      Storage
      controller
      Intel
      6321 ESB ICH with

      Matrix Storage Manager 8. 6

      Intel
      6321 ESB ICH with

      Matrix Storage Manager 8.6

      Intel ICH9R with

      Matrix Storage Manager 8.6

      Intel ICh20R with

      Matrix Storage Manager 8.6

      Nvidia
      nForce Pro 3600
      LSI
      Logic Embedded MegaRAID

      with 8.9.518.2007 drivers

      Power
      supply
      Ablecom
      PWS-702A-1R
      700W
      Ablecom
      PWS-702A-1R
      700W
      FSP
      Group FSP460-701UG 460W
      Ablecom
      PWS-702A-1R
      700W
      Ablecom
      PWS-702A-1R
      700W
      Ablecom
      PWS-702A-1R
      700W
      Graphics Integrated
      ATI ES1000 with 8. 240.50.3000 drivers
      Integrated
      ATI ES1000 with 8.240.50.3000 drivers
      Integrated
      XGI Volari Z9s with 1.09.10_ASUS drivers
      Nvidia
      GeForce 8400 GS with ForceWare 182.08 drivers
      Integrated
      ATI ES1000 with 8.240.50.3000 drivers
      Integrated
      ATI ES1000 with 8.240.50.3000 drivers
      Hard
      drive
      WD
      Caviar WD1600YD 160GB
      OS Windows
      Server 2008 Enterprise x64 Edition with Service Pack 1

      We used the following versions of our test applications:

      • SPECjbb 2005 1.07 with Oracle JRockIt JRE R27.6 Windows 64-bit
      • SiSoft Sandra 2009. 1.15.42
      • CPU-Z 1.48
      • Valve VRAD map build benchmark
      • Cinebench R10 64-bit Edition
      • POV-Ray for Windows 3.7 beta 29 64-bit
      • CASE Lab Euler3d CFD benchmark multithreaded edition
      • MyriMatch proteomics benchmark
      • notfred’s Folding benchmark CD 9/28/08 revision
      • x264 HD benchmark 2.0 with x264 version 0.59.819

      The tests and methods we employ are usually publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

      Memory subsystem performance

      This test gives us a visual look at the throughput of the different levels of the memory hierarchy. Generally speaking, Intel’s caches seem to achieve higher bandwidth than AMD’s. Looking at the block sizes between 512KB and 16MB shows us that the Xeon W5580’s L2 caches appear to be quite a bit faster than the older Harpertown Xeons’, but the W5580’s throughput drops at 4MB, where its smaller L2 caches run out of space. The most striking result may be the new Xeons’ throughput once we spill into main memory. Let’s take a closer look at that data point.

      The W5580’s main memory throughput nearly doubles that of the fastest Opterons and is just short of four times that of the fastest Harpertown Xeon, the X5492. That’s a staggering increase in measured bandwidth

      Memory access latencies are down dramatically, as well—the W5580’s round trip to main memory takes nearly half the time that the Xeon E5450’s does, and the W5580’s even quicker than the quickest Opteron. Incidentally, other than the fact that the 2389 has HT3 enabled, I’m unsure why the 2389’s memory performance isn’t quite as good as the 2384. They were tested in the same server and otherwise configured identically.

      To rather gratuitously drive the point home, we can take a more complete look at memory access latencies in the charts below. Note that I’ve color-coded the block sizes that roughly correspond to the different caches on each of the processors. L1 data cache is yellow, L2 is light orange, L3’s darker orange, and main memory is brown.

      Each stage of the new Xeon’s cache and memory hierarchy delivers shorter access times than the corresponding stage in the Shanghai Opteron’s, although the two certainly look similar, don’t they?

      Bottom line: the Nehalem Xeon’s re-architected memory subsystem delivers the goods as advertised, with higher throughput and quicker access times than anything else we’ve tested.

      SPECjbb 2005

      SPECjbb 2005 simulates the role a server would play executing the “business logic” in the middle of a three-tier system with clients at the front-end and a database server at the back-end. The logic executed by the test is written in Java and runs in a JVM. This benchmark tests scaling with one to many threads, although its main score is largely a measure of peak throughput.

      As you may know, system vendors spend tremendous effort attempting to achieve peak scores in benchmarks like this one, which they then publish via SPEC. We did not intend to challenge the best published scores with our results, but we did hope to achieve reasonably optimal tuning for our test systems. To that end, we used a fast JVM—the 64-bit version of Oracle’s JRockIt JRE R27.6—and picked up some tweaks for tuning from recently published results. We used two JVM instances with the following command line options:

      start /AFFINITY [0F, F0] java -Xms3700m -Xmx3700m -XXaggressive -XXlazyunlocking -Xlargepages:exitOnFailure=true -Xgc:genpar -XXgcthreads=4 -Xns3200m -XXcallprofiling -XXtlasize:min=4k,preferred=512k -XXthroughputcompaction

      Notice that we used the Windows “start” command to affinitize our threads on a per-socket basis. We also tried affinitizing on a per-chip basis for the Harpertown Xeon systems, but didn’t see any performance benefit from doing so. One exception to the command line options above was our Xeon L5430/San Clemente system. Since it had only 6GB of memory, we had to back the heap size down to 2200MB for it.

      Also, in order to affinitize for the 16 hardware threads of the Xeon W55800 system, we used masks of FF00 and 00FF. Although our Xeon W5580 system has more memory than the rest of the systems—practically unavoidable in an optimal configuration because of its six DIMM channels—we did not raise the heap size to take advantage of the additional space. (Although we did experiment with doing so and found it not to bring a substantial advantage.) In order to follow the rules of SPECjbb to the letter, we tested the Xeon W5580 with one to 16 warehouses with two JVMs—topping out at twice the number of concurrent warehouses at which we expected performance to peak, thanks to Nehalem’s two hardware threads per core. (We also experimented with running four JVMs on this system, but as with the older Xeons, doing so didn’t improve throughput significantly. )

      The new Xeons’ prowess here is absolutely staggering. We’ve rarely, if ever, seen this sort of performance increase from one CPU generation to the next. One can’t help but think how ominous this looks for AMD upon seeing these results.

      I should note that you may see published scores even higher than these. We’re testing with an older version of the JRockIt JVM that’s not as well optimized for Nehalem—or Shanghai—as a newer version might be. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet been able to get our hands on a newer revision of this JVM, though I believe our present comparison should put the newer CPUs on relatively equal footing.

      Before we move on, let’s take a quick look at power consumption during this test. SPECjbb 2005 is the basis for SPEC’s own power benchmark, which we had initially hoped to use in this review, but time constraints made that impractical. Nevertheless, we did capture power consumption for each system during a test run using our Extech 380803 power meter. All of the systems used the same model of Ablecom 700W power supply unit, with the exception of the Xeon L5430 server, which used an FPS Group 460W unit. Power management features (such as SpeedStep and Cool’n’Quiet) were enabled via Windows Server’s “Balanced” power policy.

      Although it delivers much higher throughput, the Xeon W5580’s system’s peak power draw isn’t appreciably higher than that if its direct predecessor, the Xeon X5492. This is a top-end workstation Xeon model with a generous 130W TDP; I’d expect more mainstream Nehalem Xeons to draw quite a bit less power within their 80 and 95W TDPs. Hopefully we can test one soon.

      Still, have a look at what happens when we consider performance per watt.

      On the strength of its amazing throughput, even this 130W version of the new Xeon edges out the most effective Opteron in terms of power-efficient performance. Only a low-voltage version of the Harpertown Xeon, on the low-power San Clemente platform, proves more efficient.

      Cinebench rendering

      We can take a closer look at power consumption and energy-efficient performance by using a test whose time to completion varies with performance. In this case, we’re using Cinebench, a 3D rendering benchmark based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D rendering engine.

      The performance leap with the new Xeons isn’t quite as stunning here as it is in SPECjbb, but it’s formidable nonetheless. The W5580 is nearly 50% faster than the Opteron 2389.

      Once again, we measured power draw at the wall socket for each of our test systems across a set time period, during which we ran Cinebench’s multithreaded rendering test.

      A quick look at the data tells us much of what we need to know, Still, we can quantify these things with more precision. We’ll start with a look at idle power, taken from the trailing edge of our test period, after all CPUs have completed the render.

      Despite all of the bandwidth and its tremendous performance—and despite the 130W peak TDP of our Xeon W5580 processors—our Nehalem test system draws even less power at idle than our Opteron 2389-based system. Finally free from the wattage penalty of FB-DIMMs, Intel is again competitive on the platform power front.

      Next, we can look at peak power draw by taking an average from the ten-second span from 15 to 25 seconds into our test period, during which the processors were rendering.

      The combination of a 130W TDP and smart power management gives the Xeon W5580 more dynamic range in terms of power draw than any other solution tested. As with SPECjbb, the Xeon W5580 system’s peak pull is slightly higher than the Xeon X5492 system’s.

      Another way to gauge power efficiency is to look at total energy use over our time span. This method takes into account power use both during the render and during the idle time. We can express the result in terms of watt-seconds, also known as joules.

      We can quantify efficiency even better by considering specifically the amount of energy used to render the scene. Since the different systems completed the render at different speeds, we’ve isolated the render period for each system. We’ve then computed the amount of energy used by each system to render the scene. This method should account for both power use and, to some degree, performance, because shorter render times may lead to less energy consumption.

      Here, too, the new Xeon just outdoes the Opteron 2384 in our perhaps best measure of power-efficient performance by using less energy to complete the task at hand.

      MyriMatch proteomics

      Our benchmarks sometimes come from unexpected places, and such is the case with this one. David Tabb is a friend of mine from high school and a long-time TR reader. He has provided us with an intriguing benchmark based on an application he’s developed for use in his research work. The application is called MyriMatch, and it’s intended for use in proteomics, or the large-scale study of proteins. I’ll stop right here and let him explain what MyriMatch does:

      In shotgun proteomics, researchers digest complex mixtures of proteins into peptides, separate them by liquid chromatography, and analyze them by tandem mass spectrometers. This creates data sets containing tens of thousands of spectra that can be identified to peptide sequences drawn from the known genomes for most lab organisms. The first software for this purpose was Sequest, created by John Yates and Jimmy Eng at the University of Washington. Recently, David Tabb and Matthew Chambers at Vanderbilt University developed MyriMatch, an algorithm that can exploit multiple cores and multiple computers for this matching. Source code and binaries of MyriMatch are publicly available.
      In this test, 5555 tandem mass spectra from a Thermo LTQ mass spectrometer are identified to peptides generated from the 6714 proteins of S. cerevisiae (baker’s yeast). The data set was provided by Andy Link at Vanderbilt University. The FASTA protein sequence database was provided by the Saccharomyces Genome Database.

      MyriMatch uses threading to accelerate the handling of protein sequences. The database (read into memory) is separated into a number of jobs, typically the number of threads multiplied by 10. If four threads are used in the above database, for example, each job consists of 168 protein sequences (1/40th of the database). When a thread finishes handling all proteins in the current job, it accepts another job from the queue. This technique is intended to minimize synchronization overhead between threads and minimize CPU idle time.

      The most important news for us is that MyriMatch is a widely multithreaded real-world application that we can use with a relevant data set. MyriMatch also offers control over the number of threads used, so we’ve tested with one to eight threads.

      I should mention that performance scaling in MyriMatch tends to be limited by several factors, including memory bandwidth, as David explains:

      Inefficiencies in scaling occur from a variety of sources. First, each thread is comparing to a common collection of tandem mass spectra in memory. Although most peptides will be compared to different spectra within the collection, sometimes multiple threads attempt to compare to the same spectra simultaneously, necessitating a mutex mechanism for each spectrum. Second, the number of spectra in memory far exceeds the capacity of processor caches, and so the memory controller gets a fair workout during execution.

      Here’s how the processors performed.

      The Xeon W5580 completes this task in almost precisely half the time it takes the Xeon X5492—another eye-popping performance.

      STARS Euler3d computational fluid dynamics

      Charles O’Neill works in the Computational Aeroservoelasticity Laboratory at Oklahoma State University, and he contacted us to suggest we try the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) benchmark based on the STARS Euler3D structural analysis routines developed at CASELab. This benchmark has been available to the public for some time in single-threaded form, but Charles was kind enough to put together a multithreaded version of the benchmark for us with a larger data set. He has also put a web page online with a downloadable version of the multithreaded benchmark, a description, and some results here.

      In this test, the application is basically doing analysis of airflow over an aircraft wing. I will step out of the way and let Charles explain the rest:

      The benchmark testcase is the AGARD 445.6 aeroelastic test wing. The wing uses a NACA 65A004 airfoil section and has a panel aspect ratio of 1.65, taper ratio of 0.66, and a quarter-chord sweep angle of 45º. This AGARD wing was tested at the NASA Langley Research Center in the 16-foot Transonic Dynamics Tunnel and is a standard aeroelastic test case used for validation of unsteady, compressible CFD codes.
      The CFD grid contains 1.23 million tetrahedral elements and 223 thousand nodes . . . . The benchmark executable advances the Mach 0.50 AGARD flow solution. A benchmark score is reported as a CFD cycle frequency in Hertz.

      So the higher the score, the faster the computer. Charles tells me these CFD solvers are very floating-point intensive, but oftentimes limited primarily by memory bandwidth. He has modified the benchmark for us in order to enable control over the number of threads used. Here’s how our contenders handled the test with different thread counts.

      Here we are again with another stunning leap in performance. The Xeon W5580 performs this simulation at over the twice the rate of the fastest Opteron. Nehalem seems to be especially well suited for bandwidth-intensive scientific computing and HPC applications like the two on this page.

      For what it’s worth, I should note that at lower thread counts, we saw a striking amount of variability from run to run with the Xeon X5580 system. At two threads, for instance, the scores came in at 1.5Hz, 2.4Hz, and 1.8Hz. So I wouldn’t put too much stock into those non-peak results. Things seemed to even out once we got to higher thread counts. This variance at low thread counts could be the result of one or several facets of the Nehalem architecture, including Turbo mode, NUMA, and SMT, all of which can contribute some performance variability, especially when interacting with a non-NUMA/SMT-aware application and perhaps a less-than-optimal thread scheduler. For what it’s worth, we didn’t see any such variability on our Opteron test systems.

      [email protected]

      Next, we have a slick little [email protected] benchmark CD created by notfred, one of the members of Team TR, our excellent Folding team. For the unfamiliar, [email protected] is a distributed computing project created by folks at Stanford University that investigates how proteins work in the human body, in an attempt to better understand diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cystic fibrosis. It’s a great way to use your PC’s spare CPU cycles to help advance medical research. I’d encourage you to visit our distributed computing forum and consider joining our team if you haven’t already joined one.

      The [email protected] project uses a number of highly optimized routines to process different types of work units from Stanford’s research projects. The Gromacs core, for instance, uses SSE on Intel processors, 3DNow! on AMD processors, and Altivec on PowerPCs. Overall, [email protected] should be a great example of real-world scientific computing.

      notfred’s Folding Benchmark CD tests the most common work unit types and estimates performance in terms of the points per day that a CPU could earn for a Folding team member. The CD itself is a bootable ISO. The CD boots into Linux, detects the system’s processors and Ethernet adapters, picks up an IP address, and downloads the latest versions of the Folding execution cores from Stanford. It then processes a sample work unit of each type.

      On a system with two CPU cores, for instance, the CD spins off a Tinker WU on core 1 and an Amber WU on core 2. When either of those WUs are finished, the benchmark moves on to additional WU types, always keeping both cores occupied with some sort of calculation. Should the benchmark run out of new WUs to test, it simply processes another WU in order to prevent any of the cores from going idle as the others finish. Once all four of the WU types have been tested, the benchmark averages the points per day among them. That points-per-day average is then multiplied by the total number of cores (or threads, in the case of SMT) in the system in order to estimate the total number of points per day that CPU might achieve.

      This may be a somewhat quirky method of estimating overall performance, but my sense is that it generally ought to work. We’ve discussed some potential reservations about how it works here, for those who are interested. I have included results for each of the individual WU types below, so you can see how the different CPUs perform on each.

      Because each of its cores is executing two threads at once, the Xeon W5580’s performance in the individual work unit tests is relatively lackluster. Once we reach the bottom line and look at total projected points per day, though, it achieves nearly a 50% gain over the Xeon X5492—just another day at the office for Nehalem, I suppose.

      3D modeling and rendering

      POV-Ray rendering

      We’re using the latest beta version of POV-Ray 3.7 that includes native multithreading and 64-bit support. Some of the beta 64-bit executables have been quite a bit slower than the 3.6 release, but this should give us a decent look at comparative performance, regardless.

      To put this performance in our chess2 scene into perspective, the Xeon W5580 box finishes in 30 seconds what used to take over 10 minutes to complete.

      Valve VRAD map compilation

      This next test processes a map from Half-Life 2 using Valve’s VRAD lighting tool. Valve uses VRAD to pre-compute lighting that goes into its games.

      The new Xeon’s dominance continues here.

      x264 HD video encoding

      This benchmark tests performance with one of the most popular H.264 video encoders, the open-source x264. The results come in two parts, for the two passes the encoder makes through the video file. I’ve chosen to report them separately, since that’s typically how the results are reported in the public database of results for this benchmark. These scores come from the newer, faster version 0.59.819 of the x264 executable.

      I’m at a bit of a loss to express the reality of what we’re seeing. Across a broad mix of applications, the Xeon W5580 is—by far—the fastest processor we’ve ever tested. Yes, this is a very high end part, but Intel’s new architecture is unquestionably effective.

      Sandra Mandelbrot

      We’ve included this final test largely just to satisfy our own curiosity about how the different CPU architectures handle from SSE extensions and the like. SiSoft Sandra’s “multimedia” benchmark is intended to show off the benefits of “multimedia” extensions like MMX, SSE, and SSE2. According to SiSoft’s FAQ, the benchmark actually does a fractal computation:

      This benchmark generates a picture (640×480) of the well-known Mandelbrot fractal, using 255 iterations for each data pixel, in 32 colours. It is a real-life benchmark rather than a synthetic benchmark, designed to show the improvements MMX/Enhanced, 3DNow!/Enhanced, SSE(2) bring to such an algorithm.

      The benchmark is multi-threaded for up to 64 CPUs maximum on SMP systems. This works by interlacing, i.e. each thread computes the next column not being worked on by other threads. Sandra creates as many threads as there are CPUs in the system and assignes [sic] each thread to a different CPU.

      The benchmark contains many versions (ALU, MMX, (Wireless) MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSSE3) that use integers to simulate floating point numbers, as well as many versions that use floating point numbers (FPU, SSE, SSE2, SSSE3). This illustrates the difference between ALU and FPU power.

      The SIMD versions compute 2/4/8 Mandelbrot point iterations at once – rather than one at a time – thus taking advantage of the SIMD instructions. Even so, 2/4/8x improvement cannot be expected (due to other overheads), generally a 2.5-3x improvement has been achieved. The ALU & FPU of 6/7 generation of processors are very advanced (e.g. 2+ execution units) thus bridging the gap as well.

      We’re using the 64-bit version of the Sandra executable, as well.

      Well, OK, then.

      Conclusions

      The Nehalem Xeons’ truly astounding leap in performance over prior generations, in a range of applications, speaks for itself. The largest gains came in our scientific computing/HPC tests, where the Xeon W5580 proved to be between 50% and 100% faster than the Harpertown Xeon X5492. We saw a massive performance increase in SPECjbb 2005, as well, along with more modest but still substantial improvements everywhere else.

      This performance revolution comes alongside a vast reduction in platform power consumption, especially at idle. Our modestly appointed Xeon X5580 test system drew only 154W while idling, fully 79W less than our comparably equipped Xeon E5450 box. Naturally, the Xeon W5580’s 130W TDP makes for fairly considerable platform power draw under load—just shy of 400W in our testing—but the CPUs made up for it with outstanding performance. In our two best measures of power-efficient performance, the Xeon W5580 finished just ahead of the Opteron 2384, AMD’s strongest contender in this department.

      Although we’ve seen Nehalem on the desktop, it’s even more impressive in its dual-socket server/workstation form. That’s true for several reasons, including the fact that this architecture was obviously designed with the server market in mind. This system layout translates particularly well into multi-socket systems, where its scalability is quite evident. Another reason Nehalem looks so impressive here is the simple reality that the past few generations of Xeons were handcuffed by FB-DIMMs, not only in due to added power consumption, but also in terms of memory latencies and, as a result, overall performance. Seeing that limitation go away punctuates Nehalem’s other virtues.

      Interestingly enough, the Xeon W5580 restores a certain continuity between high-end desktops and workstations that hasn’t been present in recent years. Not only is it an excellent workstation processor, but it has the makings of the most desirable personal computer we have ever seen, should you be so bold as to hog one for just yourself. Of course, the W5580 is almost outrageously expensive, but with this sort of performance on tap, it could easily pay for itself in time saved when put to the right application.

      With luck, we’ll have an opportunity to test a more mainstream variant of the new Xeons before long. Like I said, a more direct price comparison against the Opteron 2389 would be nice to do. I had also hoped to try out some additional benchmarks this time around, but simply ran out of time. Perhaps we can add some of the more promising candidates next time.

      For now, this quick first look at the new Xeons has left us gasping for breath and wondering what, exactly, AMD can do to counter. The six-core Istanbul looks like a start, but it will have to be exceptional in order to close the performance gap the Nehalem Xeons have opened up.

      90,000 AMD Opteron-2389 Shanghai (2900MHz, S1207, L3 6144 KB, L2 2048 KB)

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      Processor Description:

      AMD brand processor with Opteron line (model range) and processor number: 2389. This processor works on the Shanghai Core, the CPU itself is designed according to the technological process (lithography) of 45 nm. The number of cores in the processor is 4, and the total clock frequency is 2900MHz . This AMD brand CPU has a socket (connector) for connecting to the S1207 motherboard. The third level cache (L3) is 6144 KB, and the second level cache (L2) is 2048 KB. Information about maximum memory bandwidth: -. This processor is positioned by the manufacturer as a CPU for systems of the type: Server. Known start date of release (production) of this processor: 04/22/2009.

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      CPUs most unlike this CPU

      CPU company Intel represented by model range Pentium 4 with part number . This processor uses the Northwood core, and the processor itself is made according to the 130 nm manufacturing process. The number of cores in it is 1 , and the total clock speed of this processor is 2667MHz . This Intel product is connected to the computer motherboard using a connector (socket) S478 . The memory of the third level is , and the memory size is of the second level is equal to 512 KB . The maximum memory bandwidth found on the manufacturer’s website is . This processor is presented by the company as a CPU for systems: Desktop PCs . Start date of production (release) of this processor: .

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      Processor AMD Opteron-2389 Shanghai (2900MHz, S1207, L3 6144 Kb, L2 2048 Kb)

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      InJapan.ru — Opteron — Yahoo Auction

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      1 (total lots: 48) Page 1 of 1
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      AMD Opteron 2419 OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs. .. 1.8GHz

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      * AMD Opteron 2222 SE OSY2222GAA6CX 3.00GHz Santa Rosa Socket F 2 core 2 thread (Ci0058)

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      secondhand goods * AMD CPU Opteron OS2347PAL4BGH

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      $ 2. 65
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      * 2 pcs. set * AMD Opteron 6174 OS6174WKTCEGOWO 2.20GHz Magny-Cours Socket G34 12 pcs… 12 thread (Ci0057)

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      secondhand goods * AMD Opteron OS6134WKT8EG0

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      $ 9. 85
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      AMD Opteron 2374

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      Blitz

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      hp AMD Opteron 2431 CPU kit Proliant DL385 G6 and more

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      AMD Opteron 0S6370WQTGGHK FA 1447PGC

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      Blitz

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      AMD Opteron 2220 (rev. F3) OSA2220GAA6CX Socket F Santa Rosa 2.8GHz

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      AMD Opteron 2220 (rev. F3) OSA2220GAA6CX Socket F Santa Rosa 2.8GHz

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      new blitz shop

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      AMD Opteron 2419 OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

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      new blitz shop

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      AMD Opteron 8439 SE OS8439YDS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 2.6GHz

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      AMD Opteron 2419 OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

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      new blitz shop

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      AMD Opteron 2419 OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

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      new blitz shop

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      AMD Opteron 8439 SE OS8439YDS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 2.6GHz

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      new blitz shop

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      AMD Opteron 2419 OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

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      new blitz shop

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      AMD Opteron 8439 SE OS8439YDS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 2.6GHz

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      new blitz shop

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      AMD Opteron 2419 OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

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      new blitz shop

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      AMD Opteron 8439 SE OS8439YDS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 2.6GHz

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      AMD Opteron 2419OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

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      * AMD * Desktop for PC CPU * Opteron * OS2384WAL4DGI * Not tested to work * Non-working

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      nolly_ramone1976
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      $ 3.77
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      250 r.
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      AMD Opteron 2419 OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

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      p_c_cloud_jp
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      new blitz shop

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      1659R.
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      AMD Opteron 2419 OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

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      ¥1,430
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      AMD Opteron 2419OS2419WJS6DGN SocketF 6 pcs… 1.8GHz

      Seller:
      p_c_cloud_jp
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      new blitz shop

      $ 10.83
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      ¥1,430
      $25
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      $1,659
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      1 day

      CPU AMD opteron 6128 8 core 2.00 GHz g34 socket… stock number 00177

      Seller:
      pushi2012
      (rating)

      $ 6
      ¥800
      ¥ 800
      402 p.
      ¥800
      1 day

      CPU AMD Opteron 6174 2.2GHz 12MB 12 pcs… CPU G34 socket… stock number 00178

      Seller:
      pushi2012
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      $ 7.58
      ¥1,000
      ¥ 1,000
      503 p.
      ¥1,000
      1 day

      AMD Opteron 6164 HE / Socket G34 1.7GHz 12 pcs…

      Seller:
      protee_triton
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      Blitz

      $ 25.76
      ¥3,400
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      $1,709 $90,042
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      secondhand goods * AMD Opteron OSA2218GAA6CQ * CCBIF 0706SPMW

      Seller:
      everydayup666
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      $ 3.79
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      ¥500
      1 day

      AMD Opteron CACUC AC 0912APFW

      Seller:
      meiko2013
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      blitz shop

      $ 4.17
      ¥550
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      ¥550
      $10
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      *DualCore Opteron 2216/2. 4GHz/SocketF (CP077)

      Seller:
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      new blitz

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      AMD Opteron CACUC AC 0847CPAW

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      blitz shop

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      (Socket AM2+) AMD Opteron 1352

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      super_to_ry
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      Blitz

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      ¥1,980
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      secondhand goods * AMD Opteron 0S6238WKTCGGU Socket G34

      Seller:
      everydayup666
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      $ 11.37
      ¥1,500
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      1 day

      used goods * AMD Opteron OS6134WKT8EG0 * 4 pcs. kit

      Seller:
      everydayup666
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      $ 30.31
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      secondhand goods * AMD Opteron OS2389WHP4DGI

      Seller:
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      $ 15. 15
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      (Socket AM3&AM2+&AM2 * 3.1GHz) AMD Opteron 1352

      Seller:
      super_to_ry
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      Blitz

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      secondhand goods * AMD Opteron OS8356WAL4BGH

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      everydayup666
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      $ 3
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      many arrivals of goods AMD Opteron 8218 CCB8F OSA8218GAA6CY used work goods

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      blitz shop

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      Six Core AMD Opteron 2427 2.2GHz/4.8GT/s/6MB

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      many arrivals of goods AMD Opteron 8350 GAAFB OS8350WAL4BGH used working goods

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      many arrivals of goods AMD Opteron 2212 CCBYF OSP2212GAA6CQ used working goods

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      AMD Opteron OS6276WKTGGGU 2011

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      MK2162 Supermicro CPU fan SNK-P0024AP4 / PC hard CPU AMD Opteron 0S8360YAL4BGH

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      AMD Second Generation Opteron 2216 HE (OSP2216GAA6CQ) Socket F * Not tested for performance… * (1)

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      6 days

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