Thread: Whence the Opterons?

From:
Mischa Sandberg
Date:

After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for Linux,
I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and Sparcs, for comparison.

IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors?
Looking for names with national support, so that we can recommend as much to our
customers.

Many thanks in advance.
--
"Dreams come true, not free." -- S.Sondheim


From:
Ian Meyer
Date:

Mischa,

What kind of budget are you on? penguincomputing.com deals with
Opteron servers. I looked at a couple of their servers before deciding
on a HP DL145.

Ian

On 5/6/05, Mischa Sandberg <> wrote:
> After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for Linux,
> I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and Sparcs, for comparison.
>
> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
> Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors?
> Looking for names with national support, so that we can recommend as much to our
> customers.
>
> Many thanks in advance.
> --
> "Dreams come true, not free." -- S.Sondheim
>
> ---------------------------(end of broadcast)---------------------------
> TIP 9: the planner will ignore your desire to choose an index scan if your
>       joining column's datatypes do not match
>

From:
Steve Poe
Date:

>IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
>The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.


Mischa,

I certainly understand your concern, but the  price and support
sometimes go hand-in-hand. You may have to pick your batttles if your
want more bang for the buck or more support. I might be wrong on this,
but not everything you buy on E-Bay is unsupported.

We purchase a dual Operton from Sun off their E-Bay store  for about $3K
less than the "buy it now" price.

 From an IT perspective, support is not as critical if I can do it
myself. If it is for business 24/7 operations, then the company should
be able to put some money behind what they want to put their business
on. Your mileage may vary.

Steve



From:
"Gavin M. Roy"
Date:

Please wait a week before buying Sun v20z's or v40z's from off of Ebay
(j/k). (As I'm in the process of picking up a few)  From everything I
hear the v20z/v40z's are a great way to go and I'll know more in 15 days
or so.

Regards,

Gavin


Steve Poe wrote:

>> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
>> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
>
>
>
> Mischa,
>
> I certainly understand your concern, but the  price and support
> sometimes go hand-in-hand. You may have to pick your batttles if your
> want more bang for the buck or more support. I might be wrong on this,
> but not everything you buy on E-Bay is unsupported.
>
> We purchase a dual Operton from Sun off their E-Bay store  for about
> $3K less than the "buy it now" price.
>
> From an IT perspective, support is not as critical if I can do it
> myself. If it is for business 24/7 operations, then the company should
> be able to put some money behind what they want to put their business
> on. Your mileage may vary.
>
> Steve
>
>
>
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>
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From:
Andrew Sullivan
Date:

On Fri, May 06, 2005 at 02:39:11PM -0700, Mischa Sandberg wrote:
> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.

We've had some quite good experiences with the HP boxes.  They're not
cheap, it's true, but boy are they sweet.

A


--
Andrew Sullivan  | 
In the future this spectacle of the middle classes shocking the avant-
garde will probably become the textbook definition of Postmodernism.
                --Brad Holland

From:
Josh Berkus
Date:

A-

> On Fri, May 06, 2005 at 02:39:11PM -0700, Mischa Sandberg wrote:
> > IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
>
> We've had some quite good experiences with the HP boxes.  They're not
> cheap, it's true, but boy are they sweet.

Question, though: is HP still using their proprietary RAID card?   And, if so,
have they fixed its performance problems?

--
Josh Berkus
Aglio Database Solutions
San Francisco

From:
Sam Vilain
Date:

Mischa Sandberg wrote:
> After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for Linux,
> I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and Sparcs, for comparison.
> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
> Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors?

Check out the Tyan Transport systems.  Tyan are an ex Sparc clone manufacturer, and
released the second available Opteron board - widely considered the first serious
Opteron board to hit the market.

Sam.

From:
Mischa Sandberg
Date:

Thanks to everyone for their pointers to suppliers of Opteron systems.

The system I'm pricing is under a tighter budget than a production machine,
because it will be for perftests. Our customers tend to run on Dells but
occasionally run on (Sun) Opterons.



From:
Geoffrey
Date:

Mischa Sandberg wrote:
> After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for Linux,
> I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and Sparcs, for comparison.
>
> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
> Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors?
> Looking for names with national support, so that we can recommend as much to our
> customers.

Monarch Computer http://www.monarchcomputer.com/

They have prebuilt and custom built systems.

--
Until later, Geoffrey

From:
"Anjan Dave"
Date:

You also want to consider any whitebox opteron system being on the
compatibility list of your storage vendor, as well as RedHat, etc. With
EMC you can file an RPQ via your sales contacts to get it approved,
though not sure how lengthy/painful that process might be, or if it's
gonna be worth it.

Read the article devoted to the v40z on anandtech.com.

I am also trying to get a quad-Opteron versus the latest quad-XEON from
Dell (6850), but it's hard to justify a difference between a 15K dell
versus a 30k v40z for a 5-8% performance gain (read the XEON Vs. Opteron
Database comparo on anandtech.com)...

Thanks,
Anjan


-----Original Message-----
From: Geoffrey [mailto:]
Sent: Sunday, May 08, 2005 10:18 PM
To: Mischa Sandberg
Cc: 
Subject: Re: [PERFORM] Whence the Opterons?

Mischa Sandberg wrote:
> After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for
Linux,
> I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and Sparcs, for
comparison.
>
> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
> Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors?
> Looking for names with national support, so that we can recommend as
much to our
> customers.

Monarch Computer http://www.monarchcomputer.com/

They have prebuilt and custom built systems.

--

Until later, Geoffrey

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From:
John A Meinel
Date:

Geoffrey wrote:
> Mischa Sandberg wrote:
>
>> After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for
>> Linux,
>> I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and Sparcs, for
>> comparison.
>>
>> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
>> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
>> Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors?
>> Looking for names with national support, so that we can recommend as
>> much to our
>> customers.
>
>
> Monarch Computer http://www.monarchcomputer.com/
>
> They have prebuilt and custom built systems.
>

I believe we have had some issues with their workstation class systems.
Just a high rate of part failure, and DOA systems.

I believe they RMA'd without too great of difficulties, but it was
something like 50%.

John
=:->

From:
John A Meinel
Date:

Anjan Dave wrote:
> You also want to consider any whitebox opteron system being on the
> compatibility list of your storage vendor, as well as RedHat, etc. With
> EMC you can file an RPQ via your sales contacts to get it approved,
> though not sure how lengthy/painful that process might be, or if it's
> gonna be worth it.
>
> Read the article devoted to the v40z on anandtech.com.
>
> I am also trying to get a quad-Opteron versus the latest quad-XEON from
> Dell (6850), but it's hard to justify a difference between a 15K dell
> versus a 30k v40z for a 5-8% performance gain (read the XEON Vs. Opteron
> Database comparo on anandtech.com)...
>
> Thanks,
> Anjan
>

15k vs 30k is indeed a big difference. But also realize that Postgres
has a specific benefit to Opterons versus Xeons. The context switching
storm happens less on an Opteron for some reason.

I would venture a much greater benefit than 5-8%, more like 10-50%.

John
=:->

From:
"Anjan Dave"
Date:

Wasn't the context switching issue occurring in specific cases only?

I haven't seen any benchmarks for a 50% performance difference. Neither
have I seen any benchmarks of pure disk IO performance of specific
models of Dell vs HP or Sun Opterons.

Thanks,
Anjan

-----Original Message-----
From: John A Meinel [mailto:]
Sent: Monday, May 09, 2005 11:22 AM
To: Anjan Dave
Cc: Geoffrey; Mischa Sandberg; 
Subject: Re: [PERFORM] Whence the Opterons?

Anjan Dave wrote:
> You also want to consider any whitebox opteron system being on the
> compatibility list of your storage vendor, as well as RedHat, etc.
With
> EMC you can file an RPQ via your sales contacts to get it approved,
> though not sure how lengthy/painful that process might be, or if it's
> gonna be worth it.
>
> Read the article devoted to the v40z on anandtech.com.
>
> I am also trying to get a quad-Opteron versus the latest quad-XEON
from
> Dell (6850), but it's hard to justify a difference between a 15K dell
> versus a 30k v40z for a 5-8% performance gain (read the XEON Vs.
Opteron
> Database comparo on anandtech.com)...
>
> Thanks,
> Anjan
>

15k vs 30k is indeed a big difference. But also realize that Postgres
has a specific benefit to Opterons versus Xeons. The context switching
storm happens less on an Opteron for some reason.

I would venture a much greater benefit than 5-8%, more like 10-50%.

John
=:->


From:
John A Meinel
Date:

Anjan Dave wrote:
> Wasn't the context switching issue occurring in specific cases only?
>
> I haven't seen any benchmarks for a 50% performance difference. Neither
> have I seen any benchmarks of pure disk IO performance of specific
> models of Dell vs HP or Sun Opterons.
>
> Thanks,
> Anjan
>

Well, I'm speaking more from what I remember reading, than personal
testing. Probably 50% is too high, but I thought I remembered it being
more general than just specific cases.

I agree, though, that disk bandwidth is probably more important than CPU
issues, though. And the extra 15k might get you a lot of disk performance.

John
=:->


From:
Jeff Frost
Date:

On Mon, 9 May 2005, John A Meinel wrote:

> Well, I'm speaking more from what I remember reading, than personal
> testing. Probably 50% is too high, but I thought I remembered it being
> more general than just specific cases.

Anadtech had a benchmark here:

http://www.anandtech.com/linux/showdoc.aspx?i=2163&p=2

It's a little old, as it's listing an Opteron 150 vs 3.6 Xeon, but it does
show that the opteron comes in almost twice as fast as the Xeon doing
Postgres.



--
Jeff Frost, Owner     <>
Frost Consulting, LLC     http://www.frostconsultingllc.com/
Phone: 650-780-7908    FAX: 650-649-1954

From:
William Yu
Date:

Unfortunately, Anandtech only used Postgres just a single time in his
benchmarks. And what it did show back then was a huge performance
advantage for the Opteron architecture over Xeon in this case. Where the
fastest Opterons were just 15% faster in MySQL/MSSQL/DB2 than the
fastest Xeons, it was 100%+ faster in Postgres. He probably got rid of
Postgres from his benchmark suite since it favors Opteron too much. As a
general hardware review site, makes senses that he needs to get more
neutral apps in order to get free systems to review and (ahem) ad dollars.

That being said, I wouldn't get a quad Opteron system anyways now that
the dual core Opterons are available. A DP+DC system would be faster and
cheaper than a pure quad system. Unless of course, I needed a QP+DC for
8-way SMP.






Anjan Dave wrote:
> Wasn't the context switching issue occurring in specific cases only?
>
> I haven't seen any benchmarks for a 50% performance difference. Neither
> have I seen any benchmarks of pure disk IO performance of specific
> models of Dell vs HP or Sun Opterons.
>
> Thanks,
> Anjan
>
>>EMC you can file an RPQ via your sales contacts to get it approved,
>>though not sure how lengthy/painful that process might be, or if it's
>>gonna be worth it.
>>
>>Read the article devoted to the v40z on anandtech.com.
>>
>>I am also trying to get a quad-Opteron versus the latest quad-XEON
>
> from
>
>>Dell (6850), but it's hard to justify a difference between a 15K dell
>>versus a 30k v40z for a 5-8% performance gain (read the XEON Vs.
>
> Opteron
>
>>Database comparo on anandtech.com)...
>>
>>Thanks,
>>Anjan
>>
>
>
> 15k vs 30k is indeed a big difference. But also realize that Postgres
> has a specific benefit to Opterons versus Xeons. The context switching
> storm happens less on an Opteron for some reason.
>
> I would venture a much greater benefit than 5-8%, more like 10-50%.

From:
Geoffrey
Date:

John A Meinel wrote:
> Geoffrey wrote:
>
>> Mischa Sandberg wrote:
>>
>>> After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for
>>> Linux,
>>> I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and Sparcs, for
>>> comparison.
>>>
>>> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
>>> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
>>> Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors?
>>> Looking for names with national support, so that we can recommend as
>>> much to our
>>> customers.
>>
>>
>>
>> Monarch Computer http://www.monarchcomputer.com/
>>
>> They have prebuilt and custom built systems.
>>
>
> I believe we have had some issues with their workstation class systems.
> Just a high rate of part failure, and DOA systems.
>
> I believe they RMA'd without too great of difficulties, but it was
> something like 50%.

Ouch, that's not been my experiences.  I'd like to hear if anyone else
has had such problems with Monarch.

--
Until later, Geoffrey

From:
"Anjan Dave"
Date:

The DP+DC isn't available yet, from Sun. Only QP+DC is, for which the
bid opens at 38k, that is a bit pricey -:)


-----Original Message-----
From: William Yu [mailto:]
Sent: Monday, May 09, 2005 1:24 PM
To: 
Subject: Re: [PERFORM] Whence the Opterons?

Unfortunately, Anandtech only used Postgres just a single time in his
benchmarks. And what it did show back then was a huge performance
advantage for the Opteron architecture over Xeon in this case. Where the

fastest Opterons were just 15% faster in MySQL/MSSQL/DB2 than the
fastest Xeons, it was 100%+ faster in Postgres. He probably got rid of
Postgres from his benchmark suite since it favors Opteron too much. As a

general hardware review site, makes senses that he needs to get more
neutral apps in order to get free systems to review and (ahem) ad
dollars.

That being said, I wouldn't get a quad Opteron system anyways now that
the dual core Opterons are available. A DP+DC system would be faster and

cheaper than a pure quad system. Unless of course, I needed a QP+DC for
8-way SMP.






Anjan Dave wrote:
> Wasn't the context switching issue occurring in specific cases only?
>
> I haven't seen any benchmarks for a 50% performance difference.
Neither
> have I seen any benchmarks of pure disk IO performance of specific
> models of Dell vs HP or Sun Opterons.
>
> Thanks,
> Anjan
>
>>EMC you can file an RPQ via your sales contacts to get it approved,
>>though not sure how lengthy/painful that process might be, or if it's
>>gonna be worth it.
>>
>>Read the article devoted to the v40z on anandtech.com.
>>
>>I am also trying to get a quad-Opteron versus the latest quad-XEON
>
> from
>
>>Dell (6850), but it's hard to justify a difference between a 15K dell
>>versus a 30k v40z for a 5-8% performance gain (read the XEON Vs.
>
> Opteron
>
>>Database comparo on anandtech.com)...
>>
>>Thanks,
>>Anjan
>>
>
>
> 15k vs 30k is indeed a big difference. But also realize that Postgres
> has a specific benefit to Opterons versus Xeons. The context switching
> storm happens less on an Opteron for some reason.
>
> I would venture a much greater benefit than 5-8%, more like 10-50%.

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      message can get through to the mailing list cleanly


From:
Andrew Rawnsley
Date:

Iron Systems has a fair selection of opteron machines, up to 4 way.
The one I have has Tyan guts.


On May 9, 2005, at 4:10 PM, Anjan Dave wrote:

> The DP+DC isn't available yet, from Sun. Only QP+DC is, for which the
> bid opens at 38k, that is a bit pricey -:)
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: William Yu [mailto:]
> Sent: Monday, May 09, 2005 1:24 PM
> To: 
> Subject: Re: [PERFORM] Whence the Opterons?
>
> Unfortunately, Anandtech only used Postgres just a single time in his
> benchmarks. And what it did show back then was a huge performance
> advantage for the Opteron architecture over Xeon in this case.
> Where the
>
> fastest Opterons were just 15% faster in MySQL/MSSQL/DB2 than the
> fastest Xeons, it was 100%+ faster in Postgres. He probably got rid of
> Postgres from his benchmark suite since it favors Opteron too much.
> As a
>
> general hardware review site, makes senses that he needs to get more
> neutral apps in order to get free systems to review and (ahem) ad
> dollars.
>
> That being said, I wouldn't get a quad Opteron system anyways now that
> the dual core Opterons are available. A DP+DC system would be
> faster and
>
> cheaper than a pure quad system. Unless of course, I needed a QP+DC
> for
> 8-way SMP.
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Anjan Dave wrote:
>
>> Wasn't the context switching issue occurring in specific cases only?
>>
>> I haven't seen any benchmarks for a 50% performance difference.
>>
> Neither
>
>> have I seen any benchmarks of pure disk IO performance of specific
>> models of Dell vs HP or Sun Opterons.
>>
>> Thanks,
>> Anjan
>>
>>
>>> EMC you can file an RPQ via your sales contacts to get it approved,
>>> though not sure how lengthy/painful that process might be, or if
>>> it's
>>> gonna be worth it.
>>>
>>> Read the article devoted to the v40z on anandtech.com.
>>>
>>> I am also trying to get a quad-Opteron versus the latest quad-XEON
>>>
>>
>> from
>>
>>
>>> Dell (6850), but it's hard to justify a difference between a 15K
>>> dell
>>> versus a 30k v40z for a 5-8% performance gain (read the XEON Vs.
>>>
>>
>> Opteron
>>
>>
>>> Database comparo on anandtech.com)...
>>>
>>> Thanks,
>>> Anjan
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> 15k vs 30k is indeed a big difference. But also realize that Postgres
>> has a specific benefit to Opterons versus Xeons. The context
>> switching
>> storm happens less on an Opteron for some reason.
>>
>> I would venture a much greater benefit than 5-8%, more like 10-50%.
>>
>
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--------------------

Andrew Rawnsley
President
The Ravensfield Digital Resource Group, Ltd.
(740) 587-0114
www.ravensfield.com


From:
Andrew Sullivan
Date:

On Sat, May 07, 2005 at 02:00:34PM -0700, Josh Berkus wrote:
>
> Question, though: is HP still using their proprietary RAID card?   And, if so,
> have they fixed its performance problems?

According to my folks here, we're using the CCISS controllers, so I
guess they are.  The systems are nevertheless performing very well --
we did a load test that was pretty impressive.  Also, Chris Browne
pointed me to this for the drivers:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/cciss/

A

--
Andrew Sullivan  | 
A certain description of men are for getting out of debt, yet are
against all taxes for raising money to pay it off.
        --Alexander Hamilton

From:
"Magnus Hagander"
Date:

>> Question, though: is HP still using their proprietary RAID
>card?   And, if so,
>> have they fixed its performance problems?
>
>According to my folks here, we're using the CCISS controllers, so I
>guess they are.  The systems are nevertheless performing very well --
>we did a load test that was pretty impressive.  Also, Chris Browne
>pointed me to this for the drivers:
>
>http://sourceforge.net/projects/cciss/

That driver is for all the remotely modern HP cards. I think the one
with performance problems was the builtin one they user to have
(SmartArray 5i). AFAIK, the new builtins (6i) are a lot better. And the
high-end add-on cards I've never had any performance problems with -
linux and windows both.

//Magnus

From:
Richard Rowell
Date:

I will second the nod to Penguin computing.  We have a bit of Penguin
hardware here (though the majority is Dell).  We did have issues with
one machine a couple of years ago, but Penguin was very pro-active in
addressing that.

We recently picked up a Dual Opteron system from them and have been very
pleased with it so far.

I would be careful of the RHES that it ships with though.  We had
machine lockups immediately after the suggested  kernel update (had to
down grade manually).  Also, the RH supplied Postgres binary has issues,
so you would need to compile Postgres yourself until the next RH update.

On Fri, 2005-05-06 at 14:39 -0700, Mischa Sandberg wrote:
> After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for Linux,
> I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and Sparcs, for comparison.
>
> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
> Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors?
> Looking for names with national support, so that we can recommend as much to our
> customers.
>
> Many thanks in advance.
--
--
Richard Rowell

Bowman Systems
(318) 213-8780


From:
"Mohan, Ross"
Date:

Richard,

thanks for info.

"...the RH supplied Postgres binary has issues..."

Would you have the time to provide a bit more info?
Version of PG? Nature of issues? Methods that resolved?

Thanks again,

-- Ross

-----Original Message-----
From:  [mailto:] On Behalf Of Richard
Rowell
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2005 8:34 AM
To: 
Subject: Re: [PERFORM] Whence the Opterons?


I will second the nod to Penguin computing.  We have a bit of Penguin hardware here (though the majority is Dell).  We
didhave issues with one machine a couple of years ago, but Penguin was very pro-active in addressing that. 

We recently picked up a Dual Opteron system from them and have been very pleased with it so far.

I would be careful of the RHES that it ships with though.  We had machine lockups immediately after the suggested
kernelupdate (had to down grade manually).  Also, the RH supplied Postgres binary has issues, so you would need to
compilePostgres yourself until the next RH update. 

On Fri, 2005-05-06 at 14:39 -0700, Mischa Sandberg wrote:
> After reading the comparisons between Opteron and Xeon processors for
> Linux, I'd like to add an Opteron box to our stable of Dells and
> Sparcs, for comparison.
>
> IBM, Sun and HP have their fairly pricey Opteron systems.
> The IT people are not swell about unsupported purchases off ebay.
> Anyone care to suggest any other vendors/distributors? Looking for
> names with national support, so that we can recommend as much to our
> customers.
>
> Many thanks in advance.
--
--
Richard Rowell

Bowman Systems
(318) 213-8780


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