Greg Stark wrote:

Alan Stange <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

A few quick random observations on the Xeon v. Opteron comparison:

- running a dual Xeon with hyperthreading turned on really isn't the same as
having a quad cpu system. I haven't seen postgresql specific benchmarks, but
the general case has been that HT is a benefit in a few particular work
loads but with no benefit in general.

Part of the FUD with hyperthreading did have a kernel of truth that lied in
older kernels' schedulers. For example with Linux until recently the kernel
can easily end up scheduling two processes on the two virtual processors of
one single physical processor, leaving the other physical processor totally

With modern kernels' schedulers I would expect hyperthreading to live up to
its billing of adding 10% to 20% performance. Ie., a dual Xeon machine with
hyperthreading won't be as fast as four processors, but it should be 10-20%
faster than a dual Xeon without hyperthreading.

As with all things that will only help if you're bound by the right limited
resource to begin with. If you're I/O bound it isn't going to help. I would
expect Postgres with its heavy demand on memory bandwidth and shared memory
could potentially benefit more than usual from being able to context switch
during pipeline stalls.

All true. I'd be surprised if HT on an older 2.8 Ghz Xeon with only a 512K cache will see any real benefit. The dual Xeon is already memory starved, now further increase the memory pressure on the caches (because the 512K is now "shared" by two virtual processors) and you probably won't see a gain. It's memory stalls all around. To be clear, the context switch in this case isn't a kernel context switch but a "virtual cpu" context switch.

The probable reason we see dual Opteron boxes way outperforming dual Xeons boxes is exactly because of Postgresql's heavy demand on memory. The Opteron's have a much better memory system.

A quick search on google or digging around in the comp.arch archives will provide lots of details. HP's web site has (had?) some benchmarks comparing these systems. HP sells both Xeon and Opteron systems, so the comparison were quite "fair". Their numbers showed the Opteron handily outperfoming the Xeons.

-- Alan

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