AIX Tip of the Week

Subject: Reality Check - Sun Claims World-Record Benchmarks

Audience: All

Date: October 21, 2005

I feel compelled to write my first "Reality Check" after several customers contacted me regarding Sun's announcement this week. Perhaps you've seen it.

"Sun Surpasses IBM for Server Leadership: New High-End Sun Fire Systems Give Sun New Edge; World-Record Benchmarks Released"

Sun announced new SparcIV+ servers, ran a couple of benchmarks, and appear to be claiming world domination in server performance. There are multiple claims of SparcIV+ surpassing Power5 performance for what appears to be the same number of CPU's.

Well, maybe not. Read the Benchmark Footnotes at the bottom of their page. You'll see the Sparc IV+ core (CPU) performance is half that of the Power5 core on almost all benchmarks they list.

Sun's performance leadership claims are based on an "apples to oranges" comparison. They report performance based on the number of chips for Sun servers, and the number of cores for IBM servers (see their footnotes). Since there are 2 cores (CPU's) per SparcIV+ chip, this overestimates Sun's performance by a factor of two relative to Power5.

Is this "Leadership"?

Bruce Spencer,

October 21, 2005