Nehalem: Xeon Gets Core i7 Upgrade
Posted on: 03/29/2009 05:00 AM

SPECjbb2005 v1.07
SPECjbb2005 (Java Server Benchmark) is SPEC's benchmark for evaluating the performance of server side Java. Like its predecessor, SPECjbb2000, SPECjbb2005 evaluates the performance of server side Java by emulating a three-tier client/server system (with emphasis on the middle tier). The benchmark exercises the implementations of the JVM (Java Virtual Machine), JIT (Just-In-Time) compiler, garbage collection, threads and some aspects of the operating system. It also measures the performance of CPUs, caches, memory hierarchy and the scalability of shared memory processors (SMPs). SPECjbb2005 provides a new enhanced workload, implemented in a more object-oriented manner to reflect how real-world applications are designed and introduces new features such as XML processing and BigDecimal computations to make the benchmark a more realistic reflection of today's applications.
SPECjbb2005 is a widely used, industry standard benchmark. In a nutshell, each "warehouse" spawns an independant thread which determines the concurrency of the benchmark run. Systems tested have a an expected peak number of warehouses (X) that correspond to the total number of "hardware threads" in the machine (i.e. Eight for Clovertown and Harpertown, four for Woodcrest). Scores are output as "Business Operations per Second (BOP/s)", and are based on average throughputs of X, X+1, X+2, X+3, etc, up to and including 2X.

I wasn't trying to set a SPECjbb record here. I just wanted to run the workload as a comparison of the two platforms being evaluated here. As such, I used Sun's 64bit JVM (JAVA 6 update 13 x64). I ran the tests with a single JVM and the following commandline options: -Xms3700m -Xmx3700m


So... What have we learned from all the pretty graphs and witty commentary on the previous pages? That Nehalem is a revolutionary step in "personal" computing? That Intel's excitment over this product launch is well founded? Maybe that this is the single biggest leap in processing performance since the introduction of the Pentium Pro, way back in 1995? Sure... All of that fits.

But what are we going to do with all of this newfound processing power?

When I originally set out to do this article, I planned on running all the benchmarks on the Nehalem machine with "hyper-threading" on and off, and with "turbo" on and off, but after thinking about how people would use this type of system and seeing the performance numbers, I decided against it.

Sure, the HPC crowd with have racks and racks of Nehalem servers setup to run very specific workloads. The high-end workstation people will harness the speed for that one (or two) demanding application(s). But, the majority of the people who will be buying these boxes are going to be using them as servers doing various, mundane things, each requiring different things from the hardware simultaneously. The only way for the average user to really take advantage of this new platform is by consolidation via virtualization. That is they way things have been headed for the past few years, and we just took another quantum leap in that direction.

All companies (including Intel) have been bitten in the past by "paper launching" a product, sometimes months before anyone could actually buy said product. I've been assured that this is not the case this time around as Intel has been quietly shipping parts into the channels for some weeks now.

Another growing concern for end-users is the rising cost of energy. I looked at the highest wattage parts currently available from Intel and the difference in power consumption was staggering. At idle, the Xeon W5880 system consumed more than 70W LESS than the identically configured Xeon X5492 system! The more normal 80W parts will show similar power savings, and I can only imagine what the new LV parts will look like on the watt-meter. For machines running 24/7 under various loads, the cost benefits on the eletricity alone makes Nehalem even a better value than anything we've previously seen.

If you have budget money left for 2009 IT purchases and you're in the market for new workstations or servers, now is the perfect time to get out your checkbook. You'll even end up saving money in the long-run.

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