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HP releases Itanium 2 benchmark data

Timp goes mad on benchmarks...

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Intel Corp duly rolled out its "McKinley" Itanium 2 processors yesterday, and as results of the first industry standard benchmark tests run on the machines were finally available, IT vendors and their customers can get a grip on how well or poorly the Itanium 2 machines compare to RISC/Unix, IA-32, and other alternatives in the server market,

writes Timothy Prickett Morgan.

The situation for the second-generation McKinley chip looks considerably rosier than for the first-generation Merced Itaniums, both in terms of the performance that they can bring to bear on technical and commercial workloads, and on the price/performance that they can deliver.

Although Intel has yet to deliver benchmark results on the two popular generic processor benchmarks from SPEC, HP did provide a bit of a preview in its McKinley announcements yesterday (see separate story for more on HP's Itanium 2 server and workstation announcements). On the SPECint2000 integer performance benchmark, HP said that the 1GHz McKinley, presumably the one with 3MB of L3 cache, had 1.1 times the integer performance of a 1.67GHz AMD Athlon XP 2100+ processor, 1.2 times the integer performance of Intel's own 1.6GHz Pentium 4 Xeon MP processor, and 1.3 times the integer performance of the 1.05GHz UltraSparc-III processor from Sun Microsystems. HP reckoned that the 1GHz Itanium 2 chip had about 90% the integer oomph of IBM Corp's 1.3GHz Power4 processor. In any event, over on the floating point side of the chip, HP reckons that an Itanium 2 processor running at 1GHz is 2.1 times as fast as a 1.67GHz AMD Athlon XP 2100+ processor, 1.1 times as powerful as IBM's 1.3GHz Power4, 2.1 times as fast as the 1.6GHz Pentium 4 Xeon from Intel, and 1.7 times faster than the 1.05GHz Sun UltraSparc-III. Exactly where HP gets these comparisons is unclear, since Intel has yet to test a Xeon MP processor on the SPEC suite as well, and we couldn't get the same ratios that HP got using any of the limited numbers out on the SPEC web site.

HP also reckons that its rx5760 four-way McKinley server is able to handle about 1520 SPECweb99 simultaneous connections with SSL encryption, which compares pretty favorably to a four-way AlphaServer ES40 machine with 833MHz Alpha processors (500 simultaneous connections) and a four-way Sun Fire V480 server using 900MHz UltraSparc-III processors (568 connections).

HP also divulged performance information on the SAP R/3 ERP application suite, saying that a four-way rx5670 using 1GHz McKinley processors was able to handle 470 users on the Sales & Distribution (SD) benchmark test, more than 2.4 times as many users as a Compaq ProLiant DL590 server with four 800MHz Itanium Merced chips (200 SD users) and 1.5 times as many users as an eight-way IBM xSeries 440 server (using IBM's "Summit" chipset) and 1.5GHz Xeon MP processors (315 SD users).

Perhaps most interesting to commercial computing users are the published and audited results that HP has put out for the TPC-C online transaction processing using its two-way and four-way McKinley machines running the 64-bit versions of Microsoft's Windows 2000 Advanced Server and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition. HP's rx2600 server, equipped with two 1GHz McKinleys, 12GB of main memory, and 3TB of disk capacity was able to handle 40,612 transactions per minute (TPM) at a cost of $5.72 per TPM. (HP warns that this configuration includes what it calls a "large cash discount" available through HP Direct, but does not specify what this discount is. These are great performance numbers, but these are slippery pricing disclosure practices that will undermine the credibility of the TPC-C tests if they are allowed to continue.)

By comparison, an HP ProLiant DL580 G2 server with four 1.6GHz Xeon MP processors, running the 32-bit versions of the same Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server and SQL Server database, could process 48,911 TPM at a cost of $6.56 per TPM. IBM's four-way xSeries 440 Summit machine using the same 1.6GHz Xeon MP chips and Microsoft code could handle 55,139 TPM at a cost of $6.98 per TPM. A four-way Dell PowerEdge 6650 with the same processors and software, but using the ServerWorks Grand Champion chipset can process 34,819 TPM. HP's own four- way rp5470 servers, which use 550MHz PA-8600 chips, was able to handle about 34,289 TPM (a benchmark result from late 2000 with pricing that was revised in early 2002) at a cost of more than $15 per TPM.

The four-way rx5670 McKinley server from HP offered nearly twice the performance as the rx2600, with a posting of 78,455 TPM at a cost of $5.12 per TPM (this price again includes that mysterious and undocumented HP Direct discount). A Dell PowerEdge 8450 using eight Pentium III Xeon processors running at 700MHz, equipped with the 32-bit versions of Microsoft's Windows 2000 Datacenter Server operating system and SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition database and using Intel's "Profusion" chipset, cranked through 57,015 TPM at a cost of $8.70 per TPM. A Dell PowerEdge 8450 equipped with faster 900MHz Pentium III Xeon processors could handle 69,902 TPM at a cost of $8.46 TPM. Neither IBM nor Sun have tested their latest respective Power4 and UltraSparc-III RISC/Unix servers with either four-way or eight-way configurations, so it is difficult to make any kinds of comparisons with the new McKinley servers from HP. timpm@computerwire.com

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