Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Money is not scalable at IBM

IBM spent $1.827 million dollars, piled up a long list of expensive equipment, including $0.15 million for a Xeon MP 7000 4CPU 8 core server, $1 million plus for storage with FiberChannel 2Gbps HDDs, and got a TPC-C database transaction score of 221,017. The IBM system won't be available until March 31, 2006, a day before April fool's day.

In the meantime, IBM folks are probably busy working to fit a huge heatsink to cool the 4 Xeon 7040 MPs. At 2.66GHZ, these monsters produce 173 watts each. Four of them make 786 watts for CPUs alone, considering power conversion efficiency, the 4 way INTEL server is like a 1200 watt microwave oven running all day, 24x7x365. See page 68 of INTEL's design spec. At $0.18/kw-hr, these 4 Xeons cost 0.18 * 24 * 365 * 1200/1000 = $1892 per year on energy bills. In comparion, the duel core Opteron 870 HE is only 55 watts.

HP on the other hand, spent $0.48 million, including $0.37 million for an Opteron server and some cheap storage all together, and got a TPC-C score of 202,551. The HP system is available on November 8th, 2005.

TPC-C is a database transaction benchmark, and faster hard drives is a deciding factor for performance. The fact that IBM threw $1 million onto the storage but only got a tiny improvement on score indicates that the Xeon CPUs are the bottlenecks -- their raw speed is only 60% of AMD.

My suggestion for IT buyers is to spend $0.48 million to get the HP system and enjoy 4 more months of performance, and save the $1.40 million for Christmas bonus. Then you make millions using the HP system, the fastest available. By the time IBM's $1.8 million Xeon system is available 4 months later, HP will have an even faster system at the same $0.48 million price.


Blogger server guy said...

If AMD had all the answers, IBM would have a lot more Opteron options. After all, IBM was the first tier one to promote Opteron servers.
SpecINT and Spec-fp are *almost* meaningless in commerical workloads.
Enjoy some free education on me:

7:02 PM, November 08, 2005  

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