Our preliminary look at Intel's 64-bit Xeon 3.6GHz Nocona (which happens to be identical to the Intel 3.6F Pentium 4) stirred up a bit of controversy. The largest two concerns were:

  • We tested Intel's Xeon server processor against an Athlon desktop CPU.
  • We chose poor benchmarks to illustrate the capabilities of those processors.

Fortunately, with the help of the other editors at AnandTech, we managed to reproduce an entire retest of the Nocona platform and an Opteron 150 CPU. We also managed to find an internet connection stable enough for this editor to redraft en entire performance analysis on his vacation.

Performance Test Configuration
Processor(s): AMD Opteron 150 (130nm, 2.4GHz, 1MB L2 Cache)
Intel Xeon 3.6GHz (90nm, 1MB L2 Cache)
RAM: 2 x 512MB PC-3200 CL2 (400MHz) Registered
2 x 512MB PC2-3200 CL3 (400MHz) Registered
Memory Timings: Default
Operating System(s): SuSE 9.1 Professional (64 bit)
Linux 2.6.4-52-default
Linux 2.6.4-52-smp
Compiler: linux:~ # gcc -v Reading specs from /usr/lib64/gcc-lib/x86_64-suse-linux/3.3.3/specs Configured with: ../configure --enable-threads=posix --prefix=/usr --with-local-prefix=/usr/local --infodir=/usr/share/info --mandir=/usr/share/man --enable-languages=c,c++,f77,objc,java,ada --disable-checking --libdir=/usr/lib64 --enable-libgcj --with-gxx-include-dir=/usr/include/g++ --with-slibdir=/lib64 --with-system-zlib --enable-shared --enable-__cxa_atexit x86_64-suse-linux Thread model: posix gcc version 3.3.3 (SuSE Linux)
Libraries: linux:~ # /lib/libc.so.6 GNU C Library stable release version 2.3.3 (20040405), by Roland McGrath et al. Copyright (C) 2004 Free Software Foundation, Inc. This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Configured for i686-suse-linux. Compiled by GNU CC version 3.3.3 (SuSE Linux). Compiled on a Linux 2.6.4 system on 2004-04-05. Available extensions: GNU libio by Per Bothner crypt add-on version 2.1 by Michael Glad and others linuxthreads-0.10 by Xavier Leroy GNU Libidn by Simon Josefsson NoVersion patch for broken glibc 2.0 binaries BIND-8.2.3-T5B libthread_db work sponsored by Alpha Processor Inc NIS(YP)/NIS+ NSS modules 0.19 by Thorsten Kukuk Thread-local storage support included. Report bugs using the `glibcbug' script to .

The Intel Xeon 3.6GHz has HyperThreading enabled by default, so we use that with the SMP kernel during the review. The entire review uses 64-bit binaries either compiled from scratch or as installed from RPM. We only used a 32-bit benchmark during the synthetic analysis, but still on SuSE 9.1 Pro (x86-64).

As one reader has pointed out, the GCC 3.3.3 used in this review has a few back ported optimizations from GCC 3.4.1 care of the SuSE development team. Thus, architecture specific optimizations for nocona are included.

Special thanks to Super Micro for getting us additional Intel components for testing on such short notice!

Database Benchmarks
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  • snorre - Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - link

    Everyobe compare the best P4 against the best A64, and that's 3.6F vs. 3800+ or 3.4EE vs. FX-53. It dosen't make sense to compare the most expensive Intel desktop CPU with the cheapest AMD desktop CPU (for socket 939). So, the best Xeon should always be compared with the best Opteron at any given time. It's that simple, so why argue about the obvious?
  • JGunther - Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - link

    Don't be daft ss284.

    He simply means that if you're gonna compare A64 to P4, you should make sure you're comparing CPUs at similar price points. If the 3.6F will retail for $637 as KK claims, then the 3.6F is positioned against the A64 3800+. No question about it.
  • ss284 - Monday, August 16, 2004 - link

    In regards to: 67 - Posted on Aug 13, 2004 at 12:36 AM by Arias74

    "I'm still a little confused why KK still thinks that a 3.6GHz P4 will be marketed against a 3500+ A64. They do not occupy the same space, price-wise. If you're looking at a 3500 in the name, even Intel realizes that you can't judge by numbers alone, based on the fact that they are moving to an arbitrary naming convention for their processors. The only way to compare the two different product lines is by price, because that is the only constant. So, if the 3.6GHz P4 is the highest priced desktop cpu, then you would have to compare that to AMD's highest price. "

    You're logic doesnt make sense, and you manage to contradict yourself. You are basically saying that I should compare one companies top of the line to anothers' no matter what the price? Did you not just mention that the price was the most important factor for comparison? Comparing the most expensive processors basically factors out price when you compare.

    Like Derek Wilson said, it is a valid comparison, and your speculation makes no sense whatsoever, even judging by your own previous statements.
  • Locutus4657 - Saturday, August 14, 2004 - link

    #86, I agree that the fact alone that the Opteron trounces the Xeon does not mean the article is more valid. What does is the fact they Kris took the time to test several cases and was able to show under what conditions the Opteron will trounce the Xeon and under what conditions the Xeon will trounce the Opteron (in the same program depending on compiler options). I would also like to take a second to say that what also helps is the fact that the DB benchmarks make quite a bit more sence in this article. The Opteron's strong suite is DB/Server environments... It did *not* make sence to see the Xeon trouncing an A64 in a DB benchmark like in the first article.
  • acejj26 - Saturday, August 14, 2004 - link

    why is it that when the opteron trounces the xeon in a benchmark, you are quick to question the validity of the benchmark, but when the xeon beat the opteron in your previous review, there was no second guessing. perhaps your thought process should have been, since the opteron TROUNCED the xeon in several benchmarks, that the opteron can do those tasks so much better than the xeon. that's how i read benchmarks. also, if you question the validity of john the ripper in your own article, why not just get rid of it? i would have also liked to have seen some more insight to the xeon's 64 bit addressing and processing capability, but if you're leaving that for another review, then that's ok. all in all, much better than the previous review. i'm glad u took the criticism to heart and didn't get angry and defensive.
  • briant - Friday, August 13, 2004 - link

    I been a long time AT reader but kept quite for sometimes however this review cuts my silence off. This is a nice review it is indeed informative and better than the first one. Hope to see more reviews like this. Keep it up!


  • snorre - Friday, August 13, 2004 - link

    Kristopher: The P4F is marketed as a workstation CPU and not a desktop CPU like 3x00+/FX-5x. Opteron 1xx/2ss, however, is also marketed as a workstation & server CPU.

    And there dosen't exist any Xeon MP solutions based on the Nocona core, only DP & UP.
  • KristopherKubicki - Friday, August 13, 2004 - link

    Nocona is just the name of the core. The core refers to both MP/DP and UP solutions.

    To correct your statement, the 3.6 Xeon DP competes with the Opteron 250. Since the WW31 Intel APAC calls a UP Xeon a Pentium 4, this is where we drew the conclusion that a 3.6F is marketed against a 3x00+/FX-5x/Opteron 1xx.

    The 3.6F will retail at $637 according to the APAC by the way. The Xeon DP will retial for $850, correct.


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