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SPECjbb2005 simulates the role a server would play executing the "business logic" in the middle of a three-tier system with clients at the front-end and a database server at the back-end. The logic executed by the test is written in Java and runs in a JVM. This benchmark tests scaling with one to many threads, although its main score is largely a measure of peak throughput.

SPECjbb2005 can be configured to run in many different ways, with different performance outcomes, depending on the tuning of the JVM, thread allocations, and all sorts of other things. I had no intention of producing a record score myself; I just wanted to test relative performance on equal footing. We'll leave peak scores to the guys who spend their days optimizing for a single benchmark.

I used the Sun JVM for Windows x64, and I found that using two instances of the JVM produced the best scores on the Opteron-based systems. Scores with one or two instances were about the same on the Xeons, so I settled on two instances for my testing, with the following Java options:

-Xms2048m -Xmx4096m +XX:AggressiveOpts

Those settings produced the following results:

In our first real performance test, Barcelona comes out looking very good. The Opteron 2350 outperforms the Xeon E5345, and the 2.5GHz Opteron 2360 SE beats out the 3GHz Xeon X5365—a promising start indeed.

Valve VRAD map compilation
This next test processes a map from Half-Life 2 using Valve Software's VRAD lighting tool. Valve uses VRAD to precompute lighting that goes into games like Half-Life 2. This isn't a real-time process, and it doesn't reflect the performance one would experience while playing a game. Instead, it shows how multiple CPU cores can speed up game development.

I've included a quick Task Manager snapshot from the test below, and I'll continue that on the following pages. That's there simply to show how well the application makes use of eight CPU cores, when present. As you'll see, some apps max out at four threads.

This is a disappointing way to follow up that SPECjbb performance. Barcelona can't match the Xeons clock for clock here, which leaves the 2GHz 2350 trailing the rest of the quad-core processors and the 2.5GHz 2360 SE behind the 2.33GHz Xeon E5345. Obviously, even this performance is a huge improvement over the Opteron 2200 series, though, and at least puts AMD back in the game.