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Opteron Vs Xeon for VMWARE

Posted on 2011-09-22
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Im starting my budget for 2012 and i want to look at replacing a couple of my older XEON 5400 servers with a single new server additional server for our existing VMWARE environment.  Currently we run a mix of XEON 5400, 5500 and 5600's.  However for our next server Im wondering if there is any performance difference between Operton vs Xeon.

I have 2 Servers that run 2x Xeon 5400's (4 cores hyperthreaded ) for a total of 8 logical processors and 32GB RAM each that i want to replace with a single server (to redistribute my vsphere licenses) since Vsphere 5.0 doesn't have core restrictions anymore

Currently i would look at getting a server with maybe 128GB of RAM.  I'm trying to figure out if going with the 2x Opteron 6176 (12 Core @ 2.3Ghz) total of 24 cores is any better or the same as going 2x Xeon X5660 (6 Core + Hyperthreaded @ 2.8Ghz) for a total of 24 logical cores.

And yes, I realize the issues regarding vmotion / HA etc for having dissimilar CPU's but as it is my VM's on the X5400's wont Vmotion to the 5500's anyways.

Server load would be SQL DB's, Exchange and various other misc servers + VDI clients.
The VM Cluster backs onto a 10Gbe SAN.
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Question by:Umbra-IT
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by:Reubenwelsh
ID: 36585261
Hi,
The company i worked for up untill a few weeks back always go for Xeon after having quite a bit of trouble with the Opteron farm.
Weve had multiple issues over the last year with stability problems and performence issues all with the root being that they run on opterons.

In a fully functionall enviroment i cannot say how the performance differs, but just based on reliabilty i would stick to the Xeons.
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by:rindi
ID: 36585322
You should get better performance from the opterons, as they have 24 full cores, while the hyperthreading on the Xeons are simulated cores, so there you only have 12 full cores.
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andyalder earned 167 total points
ID: 36585487
VMmark v1.1.1 shows Xeon out performing Opteron, VMmark 2 hasn't got enough results submitted to compare. Both the following are top of the range CPUs of course, they don't submit results for anything else.

dual Opteron
HP ProLiant DL385 G7
VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1       
30.96@22 tiles

dual Xeon
HP ProLiant DL380 G7
VMware ESX v4.0 Update 2       
38.97@28 tiles
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ID: 36586096
What you must also consider, if you are going to use Opterons in the same farm as Xeons, is that EVC Mode will not work, e.g. you'll not easily Cluster AMD and Intel for vMotion and DRS. (Cluster).

So either stick with Intel or AMD, do not try to mix.

As for your query, we've always found AMD Opterons out perform Intel Xeon, in the wild. Especially at the top end, when your are fulling utilising them around 80%-100%. (Numbers of VMs).

We've always been a great lover of AMD Opteron for Servers, now Desktops, that's a different matter!
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by:Callandor
ID: 36588311
From a pure cpu benchmark perspective, the Xeon X5660 scores 8400, while the Opteron 6176 scores 8203 http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php, so I would consider the Xeon model to be slightly better.
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by:Reubenwelsh
ID: 36591963
There are benchmarks that say that opteron is better and that Xeon is better. In the end for me it comes down to that intel have the lager market share and therefor often have the better compatibility. Considering your farm is currently xeon there is not much to gain from having Opterons unless you want to build up your envirment so you have some redundency in the unlikly event of some bug that causes major problems with Xeons.
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by:Umbra-IT
ID: 36599380
I guess for me this question really was more related to is there any significant difference between using real cores versus hyperthreaded cores under real world work load applications for vmware.  

What i have gained from all the above comments is basically it really doesnt make much difference at all.
Correct me if I'm wrong.
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Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 83 total points
ID: 36599454
Your assumptions are correct.

Just make sure you try to stick with either Intel or AMD, if you have Clusters, otherwise you will have issues with vMotion/DRS (hot migration). EVC only works with like vendor technologies not mixed.
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 167 total points
ID: 36600143
Hyperthreading adds about 30% I'd say although of course it's dependant on what's running. For SQL for example some people say turn it on and some say turn it off. If you compare a dual CPU Xeon 5600 with hyperthreading off with a single CPU one with hyperthreading on I'd expect much more performance from the dual CPU one since you'd effectively have twice as much L1 and L2 cache. It's certainly a different comparison to Xeon Vs Opteron though.
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