[Beowulf] Athlon64 / Opteron test

Joe Griffin joe.griffin at mscsoftware.com
Fri May 14 08:25:12 PDT 2004

Hi All,

Originally this thread was about the choice of Athlon vs. Opteron.
But the comparison between Opteron/Intel was brought up.

I wish to state that the best choice is highly dependent
on YOUR application.  I test various CFD and FEM
engineering applications.  I have not only seen differences
when comparing different application programs, but also
when comparing different uses of the same program (say if a
person changes a job from statics to dynamics).  The biggest question
should be how YOUR application is used.

Below is a web site comparing IA32, IA64 (linux and HPUX),  Opteron
and an IBM P655 running AIX.   The site should only be used to
compare hardare platforms when running our software.   I am sure
that Fluent, LSTC/Dyna, Star-CD have similar sites.  I recomend
finding out about the software that you will be using.

MSC.Nastran Hardware comparison:


Joe Griffin

Robert G. Brown wrote:

>>In order to do the test, we have no doubt about the OS: Red Hat
>>Enterprise 3, but we are a bit confused about the harware of choice:
>>		Athlon64
>>		Opteron
>>As far as we know, Opteron has two main differences:
>>	- A wider memory interface (128 bit in front of 64)
>>	- A larger L2 cache memory (1 Mb)
>>Which is the most mature solution: AMD Opteron or Intel Itanium?
>Did you mean mature or moribund;-)?  
>I'm only half kidding.  Itanium is dead as a doornail as technology goes
>-- overpriced, underperforming, incompatible.  Intel is migrating to a
>(more or less) Opteron compatible 64 bit processor as fast as they can
>get there, as Major Software Companies (MSC) have announced that they
>aren't going to do major ports to new chips with new machine languages
>and compilers anymore if they can possibly avoid it.  If Intel dropped
>the price of an Itanium to slightly LESS than that of an Opteron, I
>think they'd still have trouble maintaining a market, because Opterons
>are relatively easy to port to and will in principle run i386 code
>(badly, of course) native.  Sometimes.  I haven't had a lot of luck with
>it, of course, because you can't mix i386 code and 64 bit DLLs and we
>installed a 64 bit version of the OS from the start, but theoretically
>it will work.
>The good news is that Opterons are surprisingly fast for MY applications
>for their relatively pokey CPU clocks, and some benchmarks show that
>they can be really quite fast indeed for memory intensive applications
>relative to e.g. an Athlon or P4 clock.  They also run much cooler than
>regular Athlons (again for my application).  I draw ballpark of 185
>watts loaded (dual CPU Opteron) vs 230 Watts or so loaded (dual CPU
>Athlon) running more or less the same code.
>   rgb

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