We went on to carry out the same subjective test that we used for the Pentium Extreme Edition 860, so we did a full anti virus scan and then started iTunes encoding some albums of MP3 files to AAC format. While those jobs were running we played Doom3 and it ran flawlessly. You just donâ€™t get that sort of performance from a single processor machine, and in our experience a dual CPU workstation would also suffer from dropped frames in the game. While we were running these tests we had the Armari plugged into a power meter which showed that it drew 320 Watts from the wall socket during start-up and that rose to 360 Watts in 3DMark 05.
Itâ€™s clear that dual core Opteron works very successfully as the basis for an incredibly fast PC, but that completely misses the point as this is technology that cries out for multi-threaded work so we decided to let it stretch its legs.
We fired up the POV-Ray (Persistence of Vision Raytracer) rendering benchmark which is a free download from www.povray.org
POV-Ray version 3.6 doesnâ€™t multi-thread so it only uses a single CPU and took 29 minutes five seconds in 32-bit Windows XP
Switching to XP 64-bit with the same version saw the time drop to 22 minutes 55 seconds.
We then installed the version 3.7 Beta which does use multiple CPUs and the time came crashing down to 2 minutes 50 seconds using 32-bit Windows XP. This was quite staggering but when we then moved to Windows XP 64-bit the time came down still further to 2 minutes 14 seconds.
Once all four cores get going, the Armari makes short work of POV-Ray
When you consider that Microsoft et al have announced that they will charge for software licenses by the processor socket, rather than by the processor core, then itâ€™s clear that dual core processors are the way forward in the next couple of years. Faced with a stack of single core Opteron racks that spend at least part of their time pegged to 100 per cent usage, it is hard to imagine an IT manager who wouldnâ€™t be won over by the ease of upgrade to a dual core Opteron environment. Flash the BIOS, change the CPUs, start it up and youâ€™re done.
Although the asking price for the processors is quite steep it is only a part of the Total Cost of Ownership, and sitting here in Ascot we reckon that AMD has brought Christmas forward by eight months.
Note: Armari would like to point out that liquid cooling is not necessary for the dual core Opterons, and that the system used for this feature was an internal test rig, that had already been built with the liquid cooling - this test rig is not representative of Armari production units. Many thanks to Dan at Armari who bent over backwards to get us a dual core Opteron machine to look at.