Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The SUN also rises--T1000 ruthless

This is shocking, my jaws dropped when I saw the numbers. I thought SUN would sell the UltraSparc T1 (Niagra) 8 core server at a starting price of $10,000. No. SUN is doing something unprecedented here on price/performance. The T1000 is not sold at $8000, not $5000, but starts from $2995 for 6 cores and 2GB ram! With 8 cores of UltraSparc power, the T1 will slaughter competitions across the board. INTEL is dead, IBM is dead! AMD better hurry up and do something quick!

What about performance? With only one floating point unit, the T1 is not designed to do heavy lifting like the Opteron. With 4 memory controllers and 8 integer cores and 32 hardware threads, the T1 is essentially a 8 way server chip that can handle massive parallel web and transactional traffic. Look at the benchmarks, the T1 beats popular high performance servers by a wide margin. For instance, the T1 beats all four way servers on SpecWeb2005, including 4 way IBM power5 1.9GHZ; on SAP SD two-Tier benchmark, the T1 beats 4 way Xeon and 4 way Itanium servers from HP; on Lotus Domino iNotes benchmarks, the T1 beats a 8 way IBM Power5 1.5GHZ.

Let's look at some real numbers.

SPECweb2005 --

Sun Fire(TM) T2000 (8 cores, 1 chip), SPECweb2005 = 13854;

DELL PowerEdge 2850, 2x INTEL Paxville Dual core 2.8GHZ, SPECweb2005 = 4850.

SAP SD two-tier --

Sun Fire(TM) T2000 (8 cores, 1 chip): 950 SD Users (Sales & Distribution), Ave. dialog resp. time: 1.91 seconds, Throughput: Fully processed order line items/hour:95,670, Dialog steps/hour: 287,000, SAPS: 4,780

Dell PowerEdge 6850, 4-way SMP, Intel XEON MP, 3.33 GHz,L1 Execution Trace Cache, 1 MB L2 cache, 8 MB L3 cache,16 GB main memory: 540 SD users (Sales & Distribution)Average dialog response time: 1.88 seconds Throughput:Fully processed order line items/hour: 54,670, Dialog steps / hour: 164,000, SAPS: 2,730

HP ProLiant DL385, 2-way SMP, Dual-core AMD Opteron processor Model 275 2.2 GHz, 128 KB L1 cache, 1 MB L2 cache: 983 SD Users (Sales & Distribution), Average dialog response time: 1.98 seconds; Throughput:Fully processed order line items/hour: 98,330Dialog steps/hour: 295,000, SAPS: 4,920

It is clear that one T1 processor can easily beat 4 INTEL Xeon MP processors, but it is behind two dual core AMD Opteron processors (total 4 cores).

Remember this, the T1 is a single CPU that consumes less than 80 watts! The Power5 is a 150 watt monster with 19MB of cache. SUN is indeed years ahead in multi-core and CMT architecture.

Right now, the T1 is no doubt THE highest performing single CPU, at least in integer performance. An Opteron 285SE with two 2.6GHZ cores can't match the throughput of eight 1.2GHZ UltraSparc cores. But Sparc and x64 are two separate markets, in particular, there is no Windows server market for Sparc. AMD is not far behind and still has time. With quad-core Opteron, AMD can probably have a slight lead again, and AMD can do it in six months. The T1 will definitely take Linux market from the 150 watts Xeons, so will Opteron. IBM Power5 looks foolish unless you go beyond 8P, but SUN is making a multi-processor version of Niagra.

The T1 is a perfect fit for webhosting and video serving.

AMD should learn from SUN so it can make better multi-core x86_64 chips, maybe AMD can also make simplied x64 cores with focus on integer performance to reduce die size; SUN should ask AMD to help in manufacturing, AMD's DSLSSOI can increase speed by at least 30%, and AMD's APM 2.0 can improve yields to 95%.

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