HP recently submitted a TPC-E benchmark result for a two-socket HP ProLiant DL385p Gen 8 system that is using two 2.8GHz AMD Opteron 6386SE, 16-core processors. This system had a score of 1416.37 TpsE, which does not sound too bad until you compare it to a very similar two-socket HP ProLiant DL380p Gen 8 system that is using two 2.9GHz Intel Xeon E5-2690, eight-core processors. The Intel system had a score of 1881.76 TpsE, which is 32.8% higher than the AMD-based system. That is pretty significant just from a pure OLTP performance perspective, but the story gets even worse when you look at the per-physical core performance and the SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition licensing cost differences for the two systems, as shown in Figure 1.

Processor TPC-E Score Score/Physical Core SQL 2012 License Cost
Intel Xeon E5-2690 1881.76 117.61 $109,952
AMD Opteron 6386SE 1416.37 44.26 $164,928

Figure 1: Comparative TPC-E Metrics and SQL Server 2012 License Costs

The DL385p Gen 8 system has 32 physical cores (that all must be licensed with $6872.00 SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition core licenses). The SQL Server 2012 Core Factor Table gives a 25% discount for modern AMD processors that have more than six physical cores. You can download it here (PDF warning), although Microsoft has not updated it to include the newer Opteron 6300 series of processors, which is probably just an oversight by Microsoft.

The DL 380p Gen 8 system only has 16 physical cores that must be licensed (hyper-threading is not taken into account for licensing on physical servers), so the SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition licensing cost is significantly less. Paying about 50% more to get about 33% less performance does not seem like a compelling value proposition!

I really wish that AMD was able to present some viable competition in this area for Intel, but I just don’t see that happening based on the currently available roadmaps from both companies. Lacking any real competition on the performance front, there is less incentive for Intel to meet their release schedules for new processor microarchitectures.