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Old 10-27-2007, 07:19 PM   #1
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Question New Server Build - AMD vs. Intel (The Battle Rages)

Hi everyone,

It's about time to upgrade some of my servers again, and I've run into an interesting problem. AMD vs. Intel.

In the past I have always gone with AMD processors because I thought that they generally had better power requirements meaning less cooling required and better overall efficiency (plus I've always thought that they've had a better technology platform). But, reading this article, brought more questions to the forefront.

I'd like some advice from the community here. The server that's up for upgrade first would be an aging Athlon XP 1600+ system. It really does work fine for it's current assignment (small webserver, database, filesharing, and RADIUS), but it's really starting to show its age in terms of upgrade-ability. So, I think I'd like to upgrade that to a newer platform, toss some more RAM in it, switch over (fully) to SATAII. Bottom line, I don't need the added performance that Intel's processors have, but if it allows the processor to get back to idle state quicker, that might have savings in the long run (as well as being faster!).

This server is on about 99.9% of the time, so power consumption (both in terms of required cooling and utility cost) is definitely an issue for me.

What do you run? What would you suggest? Thanks!

(As a slight side note, anyone had any experience with the "EarthWatts" power supplies? Looking for a very efficient one to stick in this next server)

Last edited by c4onastick; 10-27-2007 at 07:22 PM.
Old 10-27-2007, 10:36 PM   #2
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Both Intel and AMD are engaging in a who's more efficient war. An article I've read had two comparible chips very close under normal usage. In standby mode the AMD was the clear winner but that wouldn't do you much good. There is a line of Opterons that are designed for lower power usage. At work, we had a dual Xeon server installed in the printer room. We had to add an air-conditioning unit.

According to this article in arstechnica,, the fb-dimms that Intel servers use consume more power under lighter loads vs DDR2 memory which where the power consumed is proportional to the load.

Intel made a misstep with the Pentium 4 technology. Back then there was a huge power comsumption difference. They ended up following AMD's lead with a shorter pipeline. This different philosophies at the time made clock speed comparisons between Intel and AMD useless. They also painted themselves in a corner with there 64bit chip. They didn't expect server manufacturers to want to run 32bit software, and ended up exchanging technology with AMD for the x86_64 design. AMD may have faultered on the design of their L3 cache.

Just think if you didn't have two major competitors in the market. Neither one would perform as well and the prices would be much higher.

Other things might lead to higher power consumption as well. I remember someone posting how he saved his pennies and got an ultimate system, 4 or 8 Opterons (I don't remember which), super high speed drives, tons of memory. His raid subsystem can heat his apartment in the winter!

Last edited by jschiwal; 10-27-2007 at 10:49 PM.
Old 10-29-2007, 04:50 AM   #3
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You are in an interesting position; almost anything that you buy today will have enough power (computing power) for your application. Assuming that you can't take the opportunity to consolidate, say, two servers into one, then you know that you should aim for the lowest power consumption server that will work. (Well, unless future expandability pushes you to get more computing power than you need today, of course).

While I like Xeons for computing power, here there is a strong case for going AMD to keep the power down. The latest die shrink/hafnium dielectric parts (just released!) from Intel are going to enable Intel to push its power consumption down, but if you need to buy today, they are probably not available, yet. (In a few weeks, though...)

The fbdimm consumption is a real issue, particularly if you need a large amount of ram (I'm guessing that you don't though). I'm guessing that you will probably end up with a server that is very lightly loaded and which might even idle some of the time out of local business hours.

So, based on what I know, my vote is for AMD, even though I'd probably go for Intel more often than not in other circumstances.
Old 10-29-2007, 06:53 PM   #4
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Thanks for your replies. You're right, it is idle a lot of the time. Mostly from a price standpoint I was going to stick with consumer/desktop processors for this one. I had been looking at an Intel Core 2 Due E6XXX or a Athlon 64 X2 4000+ Brisbane (or similar). Of course both are overkill for my current application, but both would give me a good platform for future upgrades and give me some computational headroom for future growth. The Athlon would be much cheaper, both at the processor and motherboard level, but the Intel might be more efficient both at idle and because of it's higher performance allowing it to get back to idle quicker. I suppose the next logical question would be: How does the CPU-Scaling compare between the two? I actually haven't dealt with that in Linux yet.

Thanks again!
Old 10-29-2007, 07:29 PM   #5
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I think both Intel and AMD are very good , the key is that you should just choose the best one fit for your sepcifications , I think you can have a look at the AMD Athlon 64 X2 6400+ 3.2GHz 2 x 1MB L2 cache socket AM2 cpu , it is powerful, fastest AM2 processor available ,but it has no fan, extreme heat and power consumption.

Last edited by brightwindow; 10-29-2007 at 08:01 PM.


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