Differences Between AMD and Intel Based Servers for Businesses

By | March 9, 2012

As the world becomes more driven by technology, businesses are finding that data storage and processing needs are growing exponentially. When organizations look to upgrade servers, they are looking for a server system that can provide more processing power without taking up additional space or driving up energy costs. Currently, AMD and Intel are in a battle to provide the fastest, smallest and most energy efficient servers available.

Unlike using HP promo codes and receiving a discount on a fleet of new workstations, these upgraded servers are expensive, and businesses are number crunching not only the initial cost of the servers but the cost to maintain and power them.

Recently, Intel released their new Xeon 5600 server line, while AMD has put forth their own Opteron 6000 series. The Intel Xeon 5600 series is available with either 4 or 6-core processors and up to three memory channels. The AMD Opteron 6000 series offers 4, 8, 12 and even 16-core processors with up to four memory channels, totally dominating the Xeon. However, all the processing power in the world won’t make a server that eats energy a good investment.

Both the Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron series have built-in power management options, which allow cores to go into sleep or idle modes, lowering power consumption when they are not in use. There is a give and take using these options for both servers; more aggressive use of power saving features can slow down processing times while waiting for the server to return to full power.

So, while both server series are powerhouses in terms of processing and multi-threading, the real question is which server series can produce the highest performance per watt. The answer, almost surprisingly, is the wildly souped-up AMD Opteron line. While no one is likely to be surprised that the Opteron, with the option of a 12-core processor can out process the Xeon, what is surprising is the rate of power consumption needed for that computational power. While the Opteron will have spikes of power usage, the built in power saving features average out power usage to be the same, or even lower, on average versus equivalent or less powerful Xeon systems. (Reference source, including graphs and benchmarks.)

Another way that the AMD Opteron series is the currently superior server set is that they are going after the Intel Xeon series very aggressively through pricing. One prime example of this price warfare is that the Opteron 6276 with 16-cores and running at 2.3GHz is being sold for $788 in 1,000-unit quantities, versus the Xeon E5640 with 4-cores and running at 2.66GHz which is being sold for $774 in 1,000-unit quantities.

If you’re looking for performance, energy efficiency and low cost, the AMD Opteron series reigns supreme.

About the Guest Post Author: Walter Carlyle is an IT professional with over 15 years in the industry.