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I'm trying to gauge CPU performance, comparing chipsets (in general terms if possible).

So if a amazon ec2 'cpu' is:

"One EC2 Compute Unit provides the equivalent CPU capacity of a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor. This is also the equivalent to an early-2006 1.7 GHz Xeon processor referenced in our original documentation. "

How would this compare to one of today's CPU's that you can get for $200 at say theplanet or softlayer?

Looking at softlayer's site you can get:

Single Processor Quad Core Xeon 3220 - 2.40GHz (Kentsfield) - 2 x 4MB cache


Single Processor Quad Core Opteron 1354 - 2.20GHz - 2 x 1MB cache

Now is it possible to say, the server from softlayer is x times faster than a 1ghz opteron 2007 version?

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Very roughly, with the further caveat that you'd need to say if you're benchmarking integer or floating point performance, and that you'd need to consider if your application is multithreaded enough to benefit from multiple cores.

for a single thread, the 2.2 GHz Opteron will be roughly twice as fast as the 1-1.2GHz 2007 Opteron. If your application can use 4 threads effectively, it'll be as much as 8 times faster (x2 from clock speed, x4 from no of cores).

I'd guess the " early-2006 1.7 GHz Xeon" is a P4 derivative which will offer relatively poor performance at a given frequency, so take care when considering it as a benchmark.

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I'm no expert on AMD kit but I'd be surprised if the 'early-2006 17 GHZ Xeon' they used for reference wasn't the Pentium M ('Yonah') based Xeon Dual-Core Xeon LV 1.66 (which is a low voltage dual-code chip detailed HERE).

I've not found any comparison between these two Xeons but the X3220 is of course not only a third quicker by clock but also a quad-core chip that's based on the 'Core' architecture and therefore significantly faster on a clock-by-clock basis for most if not all operations.

Obviously we don't know the kind of work you're looking at but by virtue of the fact you've asked this on *SERVER* I'd happily state that you'll be looking at between 2.5 and 3.5 times the overall workload capacity for typical server functions such as DB, web-serving and VM hosting - hope this helps.

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