Having features on your processors is only useful if you take advantage of them. Patla took another poke at Intel when he pointed out the Istanbul will support all of the feature set in its full power and low power processors. By comparison, he pointed out that Intel with its Nehalem (55xx) processors has chosen to implement different memory speeds across the models in the Nehalem family with some running as much as 66% slower.
Another figure quoted by Patla was that for Intel's QuickPath Interconnect which competes with HyperTransport. The claim is that as Intel varies the QPI by as much as 33% over the Nehalem family and in its low power processors has even reduced the internal cache by up to 50%. According to Patla "we are predictable for the datacentre.
AMD has also been showing various benchmarks using the Spec tests. Since the introduction of the first single core Opteron to Istanbul, integer workload performance is 14 times faster.
What that means is that if you were to use the Opteron 314 from 2003 as a base you could now get the same amount of performance using just 21 Istanbul processors consuming around 5% of the energy the Opteron 314 would have required. Alternatively, if you wanted to deploy 314 Istanbul cores, you would get 14x the performance using just 70% of the energy.
Patla also showed a performance comparison between the quad-core AMD Shanghai Opteron processor and the Intel Xeon X5570 inside Dell servers. The cost per virtual machine was $118 vs $160. At the moment, Dell has yet to formerly test Istanbul in the same hardware but Patla is claiming that this will drop even further but stopped short of claiming sub $100 per VM.
Other benchmark tests that were shown included AMD Shanghai vs AMD Istanbul. One test using the latest SPECpower ssj2008 benchmark indicated that at 100% loading the quad-core Shanghai (model 2382, 2.6GHz at 75W) scored 970. By comparison the six-core Istanbul (model 2435, 2.6GHz at 75W) achieved 1237 a gain of over 34%.
So when will we see servers supporting Istanbul?
Tyan Computer is showing off its latest generation of Istanbul ready motherboards and barebones servers at Computex in Taiwan. At the same event, Supermicro will also be showing their latest products.
Among the major manufactures, Paul Gottsegen, Vice President, Integrated Marketing, Enterprise Servers and Storage, HP announced that they would be shipping Istanbul inside their G6 server range. This would include rack, blade and tower server models and Gottsegen was bullish about the impact on HP product roadmaps and the power savings that HP was expecting from Istanbul.
"The release of Istanbul today allows us to pull in roadmaps in by several months" said Gottsegen. "Istanbul will allow the G6 servers to use half the power of our existing G5 servers." This is a key issue for HP who has been criticised for the amount of power its blade solutions require and the fact that dense blade systems often mean under filled racks due to a lack of available power.
Gottsegen addressed this issue. "In a big datacentre we know most racks are half filled with servers and equipment. This is because customers cannot provide enough power into the datacentre to fill dense racks. They also have issues with air conditioning and cooling of dense computing. We've built the ability to cap the usage and know it will not use more than a given amount of power.
"We use 32 smart sensors around the system - motherboard, power supply unit, chassis, hard disk drives - to get the most accurate measurement of power. This allows us to independently control fans and even the processor power states inside AMD processors."
HP is not the only major server vendor supporting Istanbul. Dell has also said that it will support Istanbul but is making no real announcements until later this month when it will have products to show.