Xeon vs. Opteron

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Difference between Xeon and Opteron

The two biggest names in the CPU wars have traditionally been AMD and Intel. Now, with the release of the Opteron and Xeon quad-core models respectively, the two companies show that old rivalries die-hard…and the computer-using public definitely stands to benefit.

Another bit of traditional wisdom holds that Intel has the edge over AMD in terms of performance and sheer brute force. While this was admittedly true at various points in the two companies’ development, this isn't necessarily the case nowadays…or is it? Let's take a look!

Xeon
Opteron

Brute Force

In terms of sheer brute force, it appears that Intel still indeed has the edge over the AMD entry. In fact, try as we might, we couldn't think of a worthy competitor for the Xeon among the x86-compatible processors. Furthermore, the Xeon is ideally suited to tasks involving workstation-class workloads with more than four threads or those requiring parallel capability. While the new Opteron does offer significant power in performance, it still has to concede to the Xeon processors in this category. 

Power Efficiency

In terns of power efficiency, the differences between the two aren't quite as easy to pinpoint. Based on extensive tests, it would appear that both processors manage power efficiently in their own unique ways with the AMD having just the slightest edge. In most cases, the Opteron clearly eats up less power than the similarly-spec’d Intel contender. Even switching over to a lower Xeon speed didn't make it fare any better in the power efficiency stakes since all the new Xeons have the same 2GHz clock speed.

Interestingly enough, the Opteron also performed better in timed tasks which further points to its superiority in power efficiency. 

Multi-threading

The Xeon pulls out from the Opteron yet again in terns of multithreaded execution, offsetting its high peak power consumption with less total energy consumed. In repeated tests, the Xeon beat out the Opteron by finishing tasks about 50% faster. And since the Xeon performed multi-threading tasks much more quickly, overall power consumption was reduced. Although the Xeon has higher power consumption when idling than the Opteron does, it manages to make up for it somewhat with a good energy-to-task ratio. 

Summary

Opteron

  • Lags slightly behind the Xeon in terms of performance across a wide variety of applications
  • Performance could be improved with higher CPU clock frequencies, although this may cause it to lose its power efficiency advantage
  • Excellent power efficiency, with a slight advantage over the Xeon 

Xeon

  • Beats out the Opteron in terms of sheer power in a variety of applications
  • Very good power efficiency that is only slightly beaten out by the Opteron 
  • Consumes more power than the Opteron
  • Switching to a lower speed grade won't maker it any more power efficient 

Which system is superior?
  • Xeon
  • Opteron
 
 

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