When it comes to choosing a dedicated server, choosing between the offerings can be daunting, especially when looking at the processors! There are so many that it's almost impossible to compare them.
- There are two manufacturers with different technologies
- They each have several different product lines
- They have the same processors with different numbers of cores
- They have the same processors with different added features
- Within each product line there are different generations of chips
- Within each generation there are different clock speeds
It used to be relatively easy: 486 was better than 386 which was better than 286... but there are no numbers any more. Only cryptic names and multiple variations. If you're not a CPU geek, you're doomed...
My advice for most dedicated servers would be this: go for the one that has the most RAM. Then only try to compare processors. RAM is much more important than you'd think for servers, especially if you have database driven apps.
Now, what I frequently miss is a rough guide to what CPU is newer/better than which others. I tried to put this together below...
As I understand it, here's how I'd order the Intel processors, from the best to the weakest:
- Core2 Extreme
- Core2 Quad
- Core2 Duo
- Pentium Extreme
- Pentium Dual-Core
- Pentium D
- Pentium 4 HT Extreme
- Pentium 4 HT
- Celeron Dual-Core
- Celeron D
Here's how I believe you could roughly rank AMD processors (from best to weakest):
- Opteron Quad Core
- Opteron Dual Core
- Athlon X2 Dual Core
- Athlon 64
Keep in mind that there are a lot of variations and lower ranked processor running at a higher clock rate (indicated in GHz) can be faster than a higher ranked processor running a a lower rate. However, double cores almost always beat single cores for servers, even at luch lower clock rates.
Now comparing Intel vs AMD chips is extremely difficult. It almost feels like comapring oranges and apples. So again, my advice would be: compare the number of cores. If one has more cores than the other, it's probably better.
Beyond that, you'd need to get into details about Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 caches, Front Side Bus speeds and other nerdy specs... Check intel.com and amd.com for juicy details!