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AMD Dual Core Opteron 875

Power requirements and heat matter far more in a server environment than they do with a workstation as the problems of a few excessive Watts in a PC are multiplied many fold in a rack room, so very often the limitation on the amount of processing power that you can squeeze into a given space isn't the physical size of the rack or blade, but instead it’s the amount of power that you can supply to the room and the amount of waste heat that the air conditioning can shift that really counts.

In principle there are plenty of companies who would be willing to double their processing power by making the move to dual core processors, particularly if they don’t have to spend time and money changing motherboards and heatsinks, but what – if anything – is the benefit of a move to dual core.

A dual core Opteron die

We had some difficulty sourcing review hardware until Armari very kindly assembled a system to demonstrate the processors. It’s not a server but is actually an incredibly high-end gaming PC with a Tyan S2895 which uses the nVidia nForce 4 Pro chipset to support dual Opterons with SLI graphics so it has a pair of 6800GT graphics cards, 2GB of Mushkin PC3200 ECC memory and a pair of Seagate 7200.8 SATA drives in a RAID 0 array. With a Koolance cooling system to keep everything under control it is both cool and quiet, and Armari tells us that you could have one of these PCs with dual 275 Opterons for £3,999 inc VAT.

Running 3DMark 05 this PC has scored a massive 9,779 marks with dual Opteron 252 CPUs and with the 6800GTs running correctly in SLi. After the requisite BIOS flash to support the 875 Opterons there were chipset recognition issues that caused SLi to stop working, and the result was a 3DMark 05 score with a single 6800GT of 4,942 marks, but that’s all the bad news that we have to report, and realistically SLi isn’t high on the list of priorities for 4P and 8P Opteron servers.

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