Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Niagara vs Intel: Round #1

Sun have just published a benchmark comparing the performance Oracle 10g on one of their CoolThreads servers against a four-way Xeon server running Linux. The benchmark is the iGEN-OLTP benchmark. This is significant: when I attended a Sun presentation on the new Niagara chips earlier this year CoolThreads was positioned for calculation intensive applications, web servers, etc. rather than data intensive applications.

The headline result?

When running the Oracle database 10g, the Sun Fire T2000 CoolThreads server outperformed an equivalent 4-
way Dell PowerEdge server equipped with the latest 64 bit Intel Xeon processors by over 3.5x, while
consuming 1.6x less power and occupying 50% of the data center space. It was able to do this while achieving
a 3x better price / performance ratio.

One interesting difference is that the PowerEdge install was Standard Edition (four CPUs) but the Sunfire had to have the Enterprise Edition, because the Niagara chip counts as eight CPUs. Of course, through the magic of Oracle licencing policy for Niagra chips we only pay two per processor licences. This means the price differential between running SE on PowerEdge and EE on SunFire is marginal ($65,000 and $80,000 respectively). Of course, if the application needed to use Enterprise Edition functionality the price of the PowerEdge installation would increase dramatically. As it is, the cost of the hardware represents only a quarter of the total cost in both cases.

So, an intriguing benchmark. If only because it offers sites one way to move up from Standard Edition to Enterprise Edition on the cheap.


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