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Recent AMD Processor News

AMD has released five new specific models in their Opteron 6100 series line. Of these, the one you should be interested in (from a performance viewpoint) is the 2.5GHz twelve-core Opteron 6180 SE, which becomes the new top of the line Opteron processor, with a 200MHz speed bump over the older 2.3GHz twelve-core Opteron 6176 SE.

In my opinion, you should only use the higher performance SE suffix processors for database server use, avoiding the power efficient HE suffix models. The reason for this is that the actual power savings for the entire server (measured at the power plugs) are pretty low compared to the performance loss that you incur. I just don’t think this is a good idea for a mission critical database server.

If you are concerned about power efficiency (like I am) you are better off overall, consolidating and upgrading to newer hardware, with more efficient components than your old legacy servers. For example, if you can consolidate several 2006-2007 vintage, four socket database servers onto a single brand-new database server (which might even only have two sockets), you will save a lot of electrical power, and will probably have much better performance.

I do hope the the upcoming AMD “Bulldozer” processors will be able to close the current performance and scalability gap with Intel. Healthy competition between AMD and Intel (decided by engineers, not attorneys) is good for the industry and for database professionals. If AMD cannot compete with Intel from a performance perspective, Intel will slow down their release cycles, which hurts everyone.

Another nice thing about the Bulldozer is that it will be socket compatible with the current Opteron 6100 series processors, which means that system vendors (like Dell and HP) will be able to quickly start using them in existing system designs with just a BIOS update, when they become available later this year.

Just in case you are bewildered by all of the various benchmarks that are floating around, and how you should use them to evaluate server hardware, AMD’s Andy Parma has a pretty good post explaining them here.


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