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AMD Interlagos on Supermicro workstation review

Fri Jan 27 2012, 15:43

We ran a couple of CPU intensive, well threaded benchmarks to observe how well this workstation does compared to current Intel setups in the same market, and how far the multi-core scaling goes, since we have so many - at least so many integer - cores in one compact workstation box. The usual Sandra 2012 and CineBench 11.5 benches give us a good idea about how well it performs. We also ran a 3Dmark 11 test on the AMD Radeon HD7970 for a comparison versus the usual gaming high end platforms. It's a rarity that someone does a high end gaming 3D graphics card benchmark on a multi-core server or workstation, so why not check it out? And yes, the most recent Microsoft patches were applied here.




As you can see, the performance still has some way to go on the workstation front as well before it can truly compete with Intel's current offerings. However, multi-core scaling does quite well. Even with that, the performance in floating-point intensive Cinebench is only about the same as the dual six-core Intel X5680 3.33GHz Westmere Xeon, slightly less than the current high-end Intel X5690 pair of chips.

On other benchmarks such as Sandra, the memory performance - bandwidth figures in particular - seem to be a major issue at roughly 70 per cent that of the dual three-channel Intel two-socket Xeon, and both Sandra and Aida tests see each chip as only as having per-die dual channel memory, rather than dual-die quad-channel combination, for some reason. Again, the upcoming Xeon E5 chips have four DDR3 memory channels per die, so the real memory performance might be even higher there.

In summary, the Supermicro machine itself is a well built workstation platform, with sufficient I/O expandability to even accomodate multiple graphics cards plus, say, a PCIe Enterprise SSD drive in there. The noise could be a little bit lower, but the cooling seems to be adequate for the hot dual-die chips inside together with large memory pool.

The only issue right now is the need for faster per-core speed on this AMD Bulldozer platform, keeping in mind that Intel's major Xeon refresh, with the E5 octo-core chips, is just some six weeks away. However, due to twice the cores crammed in by the dual die approach, CPU performance does fare a little better in workstation use versus Intel than its single-die desktop's competitive position. µ


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