The results obtained on a dual-processor workstation built on dual-core AMD Opteron 275 CPUs suggest a lot of interesting conclusions. But before we start making statements, I would like to express my admiration for AMD that managed to design and bring into mass production dual-core server and workstation processors ahead of Intel. And the introduction of dual-core architectures is truly beneficial for this market. As a result dual-processor systems built with dual-core AMD Opteron CPU can boast unprecedented high performance among the platform of this kind.
And as for the actual conclusions, we could say the following. Despite the fact that systems similar to the one we have tested today have huge computational potential, the users may not be able to take good advantage of it all the time. The situation is much simpler with multi-processor server platforms, however. Since all server applications are multi-threaded by nature, the use of two dual-core CPUs instead of two single-core ones will almost always have a positive effect on the system performance. As for the workstations, you should have a good idea of what type of tasks this workstation is going to be used for.
As we have just seen during our tests session, there are a lot of professional applications that are not optimized for multi-processor systems and some of them are only optimized for systems with two execution cores maximum. As for the applications that can really use a pair of dual-core Opteron processors to their advantage, they are not that widely spread yet. Among them I should definitely mention 3D rendering applications as well as professional video and image editing tools. In all other cases you cannot benefit that greatly from a system with four execution cores.
For example, computer-aided design systems, as well as viewport mode in 3D modeling tasks use only one single computational thread. That is why you can get the best performance if you go for one single-core processor and a powerful professional graphics card.
The video encoding applications are also a good example here. Most video codecs can work fast only on dual-core systems. Once you add another dual-core CPU, nothing really happens and its potential gets wasted. The same is true for some other applications, too. In these cases it doesn’t make much sense to go for a dual-processor platform with Opteron 275 type of processors: the most optimal choice you can make here would be a dual-processor system with two single core CPUs or a single processor system with one dual-core processor.
When we tested the first dual-core desktop processors, we already shared our frustration that there were not that many applications available that would load both cores evenly and efficiently. The results of our today’s Dual Opteron 275 workstation platform also left us pretty sad. There are very few applications that can really use the power of this platform. So it looks like the software developers have a long way to go before quad-core processors will go mass.