Dual AMD Opteron 6234 Benchmarks and Review

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AMD Opteron with 8 DIMM slots each
AMD Opteron with 8 DIMM slots each

Today we are benchmarking a dual AMD Opteron 6234 platform. The AMD Opteron 6234 is a “twelve core” Interlagos processor. That means it comes fully equipped with 16MB of L3 cache. Built on the 32nm AMD process, it has a TDP of 115w. Although at the time of this writing AMD has released the AMD Opteron 6300 series, we did want to provide data points to potential buyers. Like both the Opteron 6100 and 6300 series processors, the AMD Opteron 6200 series utilizes the AMD socket G34.

The Interlagos architecture AMD Opteron 6200 series came in 12 and 16 core flavors. The 12 core chips replaced the Opteron 6100 series 8 core designs. Likewise the 16 core chips replaed the Opteron 6100 series 12 core design. Despite the die shrink, performance was generally about on par with the older Magny Cours Opeterons. One area where the Opteron 6200 series did excel is in is adding both AES accelleration on-die. The other major point with these chips is that the AMD model is to allow a user to populate up to four sockets with the same SKU making the chips very cost-effective in the 4P market.

Test Configuration

We are using our updated test configuration for this benchmark session. The new configuration has 64GB of RAM and is using full retail silicon.

  1. CPUs: 2x AMD Opteorn 6234
  2. Motherboard: ASUS KGPE-D16
  3. Memory: 8x 8GB Kingston 1600MHz RDIMMs
  4. SSD:  2x Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
  5. Power Supply: Corsair AX850 850w 80 Plus Gold
  6. Chassis: Norco RPC-4220
  7. Operating System: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Overall this ended up being a nice test platform and is certainly a favorite.

Dual AMD Opteron 6234 Linux Benchmarks

Our Linux CPU test suite combines both single threaded and multi-threaded benchmarks. As we expect, in some of the tests the dual AMD Opteron 6234 performs worse than inexpensive single socket, higher frequency processors. These chips are meant for high-end servers where many threads will be running simultaneously. Still, it is important to see performance from both angles.

Hardinfo Performance

hardinfo is a well known Linux benchmark that has been around for years. It tests a number of CPU performance aspects.

Dual AMD Opteron 6234 hardinfo benchmark
Dual AMD Opteron 6234 hardinfo benchmark

Here we see that the dual AMD Opteron 6234 performs well against many of the chips we have tested. One must remember that while the Intel E3-1200 V3 processors are new and fast, they only support up to 32GB of memory. Each AMD Opteron 6234 can handle eight DIMM slots and supports registered ECC memory. Looking at the lower-end 2P configurations in the test suite, the AMD Opteron 6234 performs well.

UnixBench 5.1.3 Performance

UnixBench may be a defacto standard for Linux benchmarking these days. There are two main versions, one that tests single CPU performance on that tests multiple CPU performance. UnixBench segments these results. We run both sets of CPU tests. Here are the single threaded results:

Dual AMD Opteron 6234 UnixBench Single Threaded
Dual AMD Opteron 6234 UnixBench Single Threaded

In single threaded tests, dual AMD Opteron 6234 CPUs struggle. The Interlagos processor core was not as strong as either the preceding generation or the subsequent generation.

Dual AMD Opteron 6234 UnixBench Multi-Threaded
Dual AMD Opteron 6234 UnixBench Multi-Threaded

On the multi-threaded front, the AMD Opteron 6234 again moves back to where we would expect. One can notice the newer AMD Opteron 4376 HE chips (UP and DP only) are very close in performance.

c-ray 1.1 Performance

c-ray is a very interesting ray tracing benchmark. It provides both consistent results and some clear separation. Ray tracing is generally a great multithreaded CPU benchmark. For this test we use both a simple 7500×3500 render and a more complex 1920×1200 render. Here are the results:

Dual AMD Opteron 6234 c-ray benchmark
Dual AMD Opteron 6234 c-ray benchmark

c-ray 1.1 is a very processor intensive benchmark and so we see the dual Opteron 6234 platform perform well. In fact, it is performing very close to what we saw with the Intel Xeon E5-2670 processors which cost considerably more.

Crafty Chess Performance

Crafty is a well known chess benchmark. It is also one where we saw issues last time with the Phoronix Test Suite and running on ARM CPUs. Here are the Crafty Chess results from simply running “crafty bench”:

Dual AMD Opteron 6234 Crafty bench
Dual AMD Opteron 6234 Crafty bench

We are using the single-threaded Crafty chess benchmark here and even with the massive L3 cache, the AMD Opteron 6200 series struggles.

Phoronix Test Suite Performance

We are using four tests from the Phoronix Test Suite: pts/stream, pts/compress-7zip, pts/openssl and pts/pybench.

  • STREAM by John D. McCalpin, Ph.D. is a very well known memory benchmark benchmark. S
  • 7-zip compression benchmarks were a mainstay in our Windows suite so we are including it again on the Linux side as a compression benchmark.
  • The pts/openssl benchmark is very dependent on the CPU architecture being used
  • Python is a widely used scripting language and pyBench is a nice single-threaded Python benchmark.

Here are the results of the Phoronix Test Suite benchmarks:

Dual AMD Opteron 6234 pts stream 7-zip openssl pybench
Dual AMD Opteron 6234 pts stream 7-zip openssl pybench

In our PTS benchmarks we see a very mixed performance picture. In terms of memory bandwidth and compression algorithm performance the chips perform well. In terms of the openssl and pyBench benchmarks the two processors were hurt by a lower base clock speed.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, this is a question not just about total performance, but also about relative value. We saw the chips perform in many instances at the same levels or better than the Intel Xeon E5-2430L processors we tested. Since the AMD Opteron 6234 can be purchased on ebay for under $350 at the time of this writing the total platform cost is considerably lower with AMD. The best guidance here is to look at the specific workload one is running and match processors to that workload.

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Patrick has been running STH since 2009 and covers a wide variety of SME, SMB, and SOHO IT topics. Patrick is a consultant in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about server, storage and networking, building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

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