Impatient to see benchmark results comparing the performance of Intel's quad-core Xeon 5500 processors to Advanced Micro Devices' six-core Opteron 2400s on supercomputing workloads - and perfectly happy to sell either kind of box to its customers - cluster maker Advanced Clustering Technologies has put the High Performance …
Interesting and not
Surprise. The box they spent more on performs better. I think perhaps a good comparison would be "what's the best HPC node I can build for n dollars" and work it from that angle. There may be instances where either vendor configuration provides a better price/performance ratio.
Cooling capacity and electricity cost (and perhaps carbon targets) are major constraints for HPC. Here in the UK, electricity can be 50% of capital cost of an HPC system over a 4 year life. Worthwhile savings in electricity can be made by specifying low power processors (for example AMD HE processors) and other parts. Theoretical performance is clearly reduced due to lower clock speeds, but because memory speed remains the same, real world performance is less affected.
Bangs per unit (kWh) needs to become as important to HPC as mpg is for cars.
Money, money, money!
Whilst Intel will probably grumble about a quad-core Xeon being put up against a hex-core Opteron, the fact that the AMD option came in cheaper with more memory is what will grab the attention of the commercially-minded. Intel had better get those bulk discounts ready!
@ Aaron Guilmette
You read the article, didn´t you?
"The Intel box cost around $3,800 as configured, which worked out to $51.33 per gigaflop. [...]
the Opteron node only costs $3,500 is a nice uppercut, yielding a much lower $35.21 per gigaflop."