XServer vs. Opteron

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by sturm375, May 1, 2003.

  1. sturm375 macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2002
    Bakersfield, CA
    I am hoping you guys can point out some thing I am missing. The other day I decieded to see what the new Opteron servers would cost. I was pleasently suprised. I then checked out the Apple store, and was dumbfounded by the difference in price.

    Here are the configurations:
    -Dual AMD Opteron 242 (1.6 GHz)
    -1U Rack Mount Case
    -2 GB DDR333 RAM (1 GB for Each Processor, not shared)
    -200 GB Western Digital w/ 8 MB Cache
    -DVD-ROM / CD-RW
    -Built in 10/100 Ethernet
    -Add On 10/100/1000 3Com NIC
    -Floppy Drive
    -Red Hat 9.0 Operating System

    $3,500 (Approx) www.monarchcomputing.com

    -Dual 1.33 GHz G4
    -1U Rack Mount
    -2 GB DDR333
    -180 GB Hard Drive
    -DVD-ROM / CD-RW
    -Dual Gigibit Ethernet
    -OS X Server w/ Unlimited Clients

    $5,900 (Approx)

    From where I stand, that is a huge price difference for a machine with lower specs.

    CPU: AMD is 64-Bit Capible, and Faster, Hypertransport, On board multi-processor control
    RAM: AMD Actually has full implementation of DDR, plus onboard memory control on the processor.
    Hard Drive: AMD Larger, w/ Larger Cache
    Optical Drive: Tie
    Network: Apple w/ Dual Gigibit
    OS: Apple (OS X is easier that Red Hat, plus Red Hat isn't 64-bit yet.)

    Given all this, I'd just like to know if I missed something, and what would convince somebody to go with the XServe over the Opteron server. I am truly interested in a discussion, not a Mac v. PC argument.
  2. Mr. MacPhisto macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2003
    Well, the AMD looks more appealing and likely could do more - but will run ALOT hotter.

    As for the 64-bit, it's immaterial since you're only getting 2 gig.

    Also, WD hard drives stink, IMHO. I've had to exchange over 100 of them from machines I've built for myself, friends, or businesses. The failure rate within 90 days that I've experienced over the past two years in over 85%. It's a shame too, because they were the best IDE drives around 4-5 years ago.

    The system controller on the X-Serve will increase its speed, and you are paying for a license of OS X - that you don't get when you use Red Hat because it is Linux. Be sure the Red Hat has Samba if you want to work with Windows machines.

    Warranty stuff and tech support would be less stressful with Apple over a custom-built server. Greater resources and locations around the country it could be taken to incase anything happens.

    That said, I likely would go with the AMD, although I'd price out an Intel based server too because their chips run cooler than AMDs and are more reliable. Or, if 64bit matters so much, you may want to wait until summer when you can get 970-based servers.
  3. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    How much would MicroSoft Windows Server the unlimited version cost?
  4. sturm375 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2002
    Bakersfield, CA
    Good info, I forgot about the warranty stuff. I do have to disagree with you on the heat related issues. In all the pictures I've seen of the Opteron installed, it only had a heatsink on the processor, no fan. This tells me that it runs much cooler than the Athlon(big time oven here). Again this is only inference from pictures, no actual numbers, I'll try to look them up.

    As for hard drives, I've only had good luck with WD, but I've not had the volume of experiance you've had. This brings up another point in favor of Apple. I didn't see whether or not the AMD had hot swapable HDs, and I think the XServe does.
  5. sturm375 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2002
    Bakersfield, CA
    Not free, cost $200. At least that is what it showed on the "Cart" at Monarch.

    MS Windows Server 2003 (64-bit available) w/ 5 Seats: $1,010.00 (I think). The 10 Seat version is a bit more: $200-$300 (I Think).

    Again I did say that the OS was a drawback on the AMD, however it is a server. It's not something you are supposed to "play" with every day. More like "set it, and forget it." There are not any free ones out yet, but SuSE, among others have 64-bit OSs for the Opteron. I went strictly with what I could order from the one website.
  6. Cubeboy macrumors regular

    Mar 25, 2003
    Bridgewater NJ
    The Opteron certainly has the price/performance, it's the highest performing cpu short of a Itanium 2, Alpha, or Power4. if you look at the large performance gap between a dual Opteron server and a dual Xeon server, you get a pretty good idea of how well a dual 1.33 ghz G3 Xserve will fare against a Opteron server (it's not pretty). However, Opteron still runs fairly hot, even with SOI, it has about the same heat dissipation of a Athlon. I wouldn't worry so much about reliability since the A-8000 server board used by Opteron is (like all server boards) tweaked for reliability and stability (and sacrificing some performance for it). Considering we're running server operations and databases 64 bit computing will matter a since many of these programs won't fit into a 32 bit computing environment. Of course if you go with the Xserve, you'll get a extremely well built, reliable machine, as well as probably the best technical support and warranty in the industry.

    Also, I'd recommend using dual DDR-400 ram for the Opteron since the Hypertransport system bus runs at 800 mhzs.

    One Question: What kind of motherboard the Xserve uses?


    Performance: Opteron
    Scalability: Opteron (2,4,8 processor configurations)
    Cost: Opteron
    OS: Xserve
    Support: Xserve
    Network: Xserve
    Reliability/Stability: Unknown
  7. Mr. MacPhisto macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2003
    I've heard things about the Opteron and heat, but I haven't looked up the data.

    I would likely buy the Opteron now, regardless of heat (unless I'me running in a poorly ventilated, contained environment). Do you need the server immediately? If you read my IBM Inside post you'll see what's around the corner based on my sources. I do think the Xserve is overpriced - although the price would be reduced if you bought the memory elsewhere and installed it yourself by a few hundred bucks. Apple charges $750 and change to go from 512MB to 2GIG.

    Also, do you need the Server to be easy to use, because I know that OSX is easier than RedHat for most people and would likely require less time for setup and configuration. Of course, is that really worth $1500+?
  8. yzedf macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2002
    OS X may be easier, but it is serious overkill for a server. A server does not need a GUI. Redhat's professional services are awesome, not to mention the online community support that is available for free.


    What are you going to be using the machine for? To be honest, the config you have set for either machine is overkill, most likely.
  9. Mr. MacPhisto macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2003
    I agree on Red Hat, but Linux's virtues are forfeited if the person setting up the server doesn't know what they're doing. It depends on who's maintaining it and running it. If a guy who knows Unix commands and knows the interface is doing it, then great! If not, then the advantage of Linux turns into a disadvantage.

    And the server may not be overkill if it is doing rendering, but I doubt that because of plug-in support, etc.
  10. MeanE macrumors newbie

    Mar 25, 2003
    "How much would MicroSoft Windows Server the unlimited version cost?"

    Linux/BSD = Free! Windows...on a rackmount..sheesh! Windows makes a sub par server....and Mac's are too expensive to use as servers ;)
  11. sturm375 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2002
    Bakersfield, CA
    Actually, I was just interested in the discussion in pros and cons of each system. In the back of my mind, I would love to use either of these to serve a client server database application (www.4d.com). And possibly for a file server and web server.
  12. maradong macrumors 65816


    Mar 7, 2003

    Actually every linux can run 64 bit mode, if you recompile the new kernel to support 64 bit :)
  13. lmalave macrumors 68000


    Nov 8, 2002
    Chinatown NYC
    Honestly, 'til the 970 comes out, I would have to go for x86 machines for servers. You just get better price/performance, especially running Linux. I think the only niche for XServes now is for shops that are already Mac-centric and just need easy to administer file/email/web servers.
  14. yzedf macrumors 65816


    Nov 1, 2002
    Myself, I would get something SCSI with a nice RAID setup.

    The XServe is ok for a Mac centric shop that wants a easy to admin (ie no real experience) file / web server.

    For high volume database stuff, high rpm SCSI drives, RAID for data security (lost drive != lost data), and the faster CPU and bus speeds that the x86 architecture provides. Not to mention the choices of OS that are out there; Windows, Linux flavors, BSD's, Novell, etc etc.
  15. hurleybird macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2003
    Hey, just read through this thread and i have to tell you all that while most of your guys' information is correct you are mistaken about the heat output of the opteron processors.

    Opteron processors run much cooler than P4's or xeons (AMd once had bad heat problems, and now the rumor that AMD proc's have still heat problems is put around everywhere). AMD says that the 'max' power dissupation of all of their opteron (and AMD64 family) processors is 79 watts, though this is actually false. AMD says this so that current heatsinks will be able compatible with future, and possiblty hotter processors. The real average heat dissapation of opteron processors is somewhere between 30 and 40 watts. Acroding to may reviewers, the opteron heatsinks were only warm to the touch. I am fairly sure that the G4 does not have a lower heat dissapation than this though i may be wrong (as i am not a mac user).
  16. hurleybird macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2003
    actually, it runs at 800MHz DDR, or 1600MHz. and its not really a conventional 'system bus', though its the closest thing to it that an opteron has.
  17. Rezet macrumors 6502a


    Apr 21, 2003
    Connecticut, United States of America
    Re: XServer vs. Opteron

    Speedwise and speedwise only, any top pcs including servers remaini superrior to Macs.
  18. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    That's Linux' answer to everything--re-compile the kernel. :D

    Sure, you put Linux into a small office or store and ask the 60 year old grandmother who runs the server to re-compile the kernel.

    By the way, do all the 32-bit applications still run with a 64-bit kernel?

    Mac OS X will get there--just not today. I have a feeling that the competition just thinks they're there.
  19. iMax531 macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2003
    SF Bay Area/JHU
    ya know...

    The Opteron's came out days ago.

    The Xserve that Apple is selling now hasn't been updated in 265 days as of today...

    so you're comparing brand new top of the line hardware with something that's been out for nearly a year. I'd HOPE that the Opteron was a better deal.
  20. Rezet macrumors 6502a


    Apr 21, 2003
    Connecticut, United States of America
    Re: ya know...

    1. Opteron has been out for a while bro.
    2. Bad example comparing. Whos fault is this that apple won't update Xserve and won't lower the price on those?
    3. Maybe G5 xserve coming out shortly huh? (reason to wait?)
  21. wr0x2 macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2003
    Opteron isn't a huge performance increase until 64bit support comes out. Don't even think about windows server either. I use Windows Server 2000 (legit, but it's not mine) on my PC and it really isn't that good. Anything GNU based is likely to be infinitly better. A commercial UNIX such as Solaris will win out every time against anything in a server situation, but by a very small margin.

    I agree that Apple is lazy on the Xserve, who wants a G4 server these days anyway? If the Xserve G5 was out, this thread might have a different tune.
  22. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    You really cant compare the Opteron (which has been retailing for about a month or two) to the G4 XServe, which has been out a long long time.

    If you are seriously considering a Mac server, i would say wait for the G5 XServes to come out, or, just get a G5 desktop and install OS X Server on it.

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