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Bull claims x86 enterprise server performance crown

21 Sep 2012
Bull Bullion servers

Bull Information Systems is touting its Bullion server line as the world's fastest x86 enterprise-class server, based on tests using the widely respect SPECint benchmarks.

The French enterprise vendor has published figures which demonstrate that a "fat" 16-socket configuration of the Bullion server is almost twice as fast as its closest rival - a HP ProLiant DL980 system - when running the SPECint_rate2006 benchmark.

Bull's test system was based on the Intel Xeon E7 processor, which supports up to 10 cores per chip, plus 4TB of memory. It achieved a SPECint_rate2006 score of 4,110, compared with 2,180 for HP's server.

Systems from Fujitsu, Oracle, IBM and Cisco were also tested, with a list of the results available on the SPEC website.

Bull said the results demonstrate the power of its architecture, and attributes the difference in performance to the firm's Bull Coherence Switch (BCS), which is also used in the Bullx S series of supercomputers.

The BCS is used to link together multiple four-socket processor boards, enabling the Bullion server to support a 16-socket configuration with up to 160 processor cores, while rival systems relying solely on the Xeon processor's QPI interconnect can only support eight-socket configurations with up to 80 cores.

This neatly explains why the Bull system offers roughly twice the performance; it has twice as many CPU cores. Nevertheless, it still means that the Bullion server can scale further than its rivals.

The Bullion systems are designed for massive-scale virtualisation and big data applications, according to Bull, with VMware's Hypervisor embedded as standard and capable of supporting over 500 virtual machines and several "monster" VMs.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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