SUMMARY:Comparison of Sparc to Intel

From: Dave Martini <>
Date: Wed Apr 02 2003 - 19:09:03 EST
Seems that price and performance goes to the Intel box. I did forget to
mention this will be an Oracle server.

My original question:

 What would be an equivalent SUN system that would match the
> processing power of this:
> 2 xeon processor, 2 gig ram, linux and 1 Terrabyte of disk storage.
> Are there benchmarks or sites that compare Intel to Sparc?
Many suggest this spec site for benchmarks:

Most said it was like comparing apples to oranges and also depended on
the application.

I received a few detailed responses one from Tim Chipman

AFAIK, there are relatively few, informal resources that compare sparc 
to intel as you are seeking.

typically, the "water is muddy" because it depends heavily on what the 
intended use of the systems are.

For example,

-> Database server: Lots of I/O and memory access will render CPU speed 
less critical ...

-> Computation server (bioinformatics, etc) - less IO, tons of CPU 
requirements render memory/bandwidth less critical.

We've got a few dual-athlon systems here "in production", one is the 
"head node" of a "beowulf cluster" that we use for computationally 
intensive (not! IO/intensive) work. The dual athlon by itself 
(2x1600mhz) is ~2x faster in raw CPU power than our 4x400mhz e3500, 
suggesting that for *this type of CPU intensive work*, 1600mhz of athlon 
power is approximately equal to 1600mhz of sunUltraSparcII power.  The 
beowulf cluster operating on appropriate CPU intensive problems that are 
split across the cluster has ~20 ghz of CPU power and clearly outguns 
the e3500 by a large margin.

Additionally, IMHO, if you have nice SCSI (FCAL?) subsystems for disk on 
your X86 hardware, you can get very reasonable disk IO performance and 
overall end up with very reasonable performing systems.

Ultimately, I think few people would argue that  you can get "more bang 
for your buck" with X86 hardware (as compared to Sun, HP, IBM) "big iron 
/ single dedicated vendor" Unix implementations. The difference tends to be,

- concerns over support, integration of tools onto platform?
- concerns over maintenance, troubleshooting, hardware failure ?
- concerns over budget (or lack thereof ? :-)

So. It will all depend on what kind of use you have in mind for the 
gear, and how $$ influences the decision, since there are many factors 
in the equation.

Hope this helps a bit,


And another on from Jay Lessert

Well, the storage is irrelevant, right?  If you've got 1TB, it's SCSI
or FC, probably FC, and a SPARC/Solaris box will talk to it the same as
an X86/Linux box.

The 2GB RAM is irrelevant, too, right?  Not very much RAM, hard to
find a SPARC box with a max capacity *less* than that.

If you're running a single CPU-bound application with graceful memory
access patterns (good locality), you should lose the second processor,
and a 2.8GHz Xeon is somewhere between 1.5X and 2.0X faster than a
1.05GHz US-III.

But don't waste money on the Xeon, then.  Get a 3GHz P4.  Cheaper
and faster.

And another from Ben Green

It greatly depends on what application(s) you will be running. Vendors, such
as Oracle, can shed some light with benchmarks.

In my experience with Oracle and well laid out Hitachi/EMC SANs, a Compaq or
Dell with two P4 Xeons running at 2.8 GHz will crucify Sun servers up to a
V880, with Oracle tuned well in both cases.  Hyperthreading is a huge gain
with those processors, too.

It really depends what you are going to do, but as a general rule of
thumb -- the Linux box will win and will cost one half or one third of the
SUN's price.
sunmanagers mailing list
Received on Wed Apr 2 19:13:16 2003

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Mar 03 2016 - 06:43:08 EST