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IBM's e325 Server: IBM Champs at The 64 Bit

The pre-release unit Network Computing received for evaluation came fully loaded with dual 2-GHz Opteron 246 processors, 2 GB of DDR SDRAM, a low-profile IDE CD-ROM drive and a single hot-swappable 36.4-GB Ultra320 SCSI hard disk. For the operating system, IBM installed SuSE Linux 8.2 for 32-bit and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 for 64-bit modes, but IBM doesn't sell the 325 with SuSE Linux pre-installed. The company says it plans to provide full support for Red Hat Linux as well as Windows Server 2003 for 64-Bit Extended Systems in mid-2004.

Outstanding Performance

With SuSE Linux installed in both 32- and 64-bit versions, I decided to compile and load Apache HTTP Server 2.0.47 under both environments. I hammered the 325 with Spirent Communications' Avalanche at our Real-World Labs® in Green Bay, Wis.

After some minor modifications to the default configuration files, the 325 did reasonably well when operating in single-processor, 32-bit mode, peaking at a little more than 3,300 transactions per second using our standard 24-KB Web page. The real surprise came when I ran the same test in 64-bit mode. I was blown away by a dual-processor peak performance of more than 11,800 transactions per second. This was more than good--this was the greatest performance ever recorded at our labs, and almost double the next highest Web server performance I had ever experienced, regardless of the number of processors installed. Further testing showed that the 325 was capable of sustaining 10,000 transactions per second under a load average of 10.50 to 15.50, with zero dropped packets.

My tests validated many of AMD's claims regarding the performance of the Opteron chip with its integrated DDR memory controller, 128-bit memory path and HyperTransport I/O management technology. As a bonus, the 325's memory and processor resources can be mapped through the creation of a Static Resource Table (SRAT) during post. If you activate the bios-level SRAT option on the 325 that lets the OS dynamically allocate and optimize the use of addressable resources, you can realize a performance increase of as much as 30 percent.

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