Pentium D vs Pentium 4

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At my company, we buy a decent amount of 1U Supermicro servers, mainly for web servers. Lately we've been standardizing on a Pentium 4 650 3.4GHz, 2MB cache, 1GB RAM, and 2x200GB Seagate SATA drives with a 3ware 8006-2LP controller in RAID1.

Recently, for a VMware test server, we bought a similar system, but with a Pentium D 930 3.0GHz dual-core, 3GB RAM, and 2x500GB Seagate SATA, same RAID. This gave me an opportunity to put the systems to the test, running a kernel compilation and comparing build times with various factors. I tested a P4 3.4GHz system, the aforementioned PD 3.0GHz system, the previous generation (P4 3.0GHz, 1GB, 2x120GB, RAID1), and I also threw in my laptop as a red herring, a Turion 64 1.6GHz with 512MB RAM.

The Test

Now, this isn't exactly a scientific comparision, since the systems do have subtle differences (not counting the Turion, which is completely different):

  • The P4s have 1GB RAM, the PD has 3GB
  • The P4s are running Debian sarge, the PD is running CentOS 4.3
  • Each system has a different kernel (all 2.6)
  • Each system has different hard drives, though the RAID controller is the same on all

For the tests, Linux kernel 2.6.12 was compiled, using "make defconfig" and "time make -jN bzImage". Concurrency consisted of one run at 1 logical CPU, one run at the system's total logical CPUs (IE 2, except for the Turion), and one run at N+1 logical CPUs. N+1 never seems to be much different than N, but I included it anyways because compiling geeks like to do that.

Test Results

Numbers are expressed as "real" execution seconds. Lower is better.

System -j1 -j2 -j3
PD 3.0 283.722 151.424 148.268
P4 3.4 320.146 255.627 255.802
P4 3.0 377.667 308.436 305.971
Turion 1.6 357.737 353.761 N/A


The Pentium D does an excellent job compared to the Pentium 4 3.4GHz. After hearing the "1+1 = far less than 2" hype surrounding the dual core processors, I didn't expect results this good. The PD 3.0GHz was 49.1% (just UNDER half) of the compile time of the P4 3.0GHz at -j2 (IE, utilizing both cores and HT, respectively), and was 59.2% of the P4 3.4GHz.

Sadly, my laptop's "consumer, power-conscious" 1.6GHz Turion processor easily whipped the P4 3.0GHz, with nearly half the clock speed and half the L2 cache of the Pentium. I've always loved AMD, but Supermicro with Intel is rather inexpensive, which is why we go with them at work. (Yes, I know Supermicro now sells Opterons, but the price point is closer to Xeons, and isn't even close to the value of a P4.)

Based on this data, I'll be recommending that we start a new "generation" of PD 3.0GHz systems, with otherwise the same specs for the rest of the system. Additionally, the PD 3.0GHz system will actually be CHEAPER than the P4 3.4GHz system with otherwise identical specs (currently $834.00 vs $877.75 for the processor and 1U chassis/motherboard).

System Configurations

PD 3.0

  • Intel Pentium D 930 3.0GHz 2MB Cache
  • 3GB RAM (2x512MB, 2x1GB)
  • 2x Seagate ST3500641AS 500GB 7200RPM, 3ware 8006-2LP RAID1
  • CentOS 4.3 x86, kernel 2.6.9-34.ELsmp

P4 3.4

  • Intel Pentium 4 650 3.4GHz HT 2MB Cache
  • 1GB RAM (2x512MB)
  • 2x Seagate ST3200827AS 200GB 7200RPM, 3ware 8006-2LP RAID1
  • Debian sarge (3.1) x86, kernel 2.6.8-3-686-smp

P4 3.0

  • Intel Pentium 4 630 3.0GHz HT 2MB Cache
  • 1GB RAM (2x512MB)
  • 2x Seagate ST3120813AS 120GB 7200RPM, 3ware 8006-2LP RAID1
  • Debian sarge (3.1) x86, kernel

Turion 1.6

  • AMD Turion 64 ML-30 1.6GHz 1MB Cache
  • 1GB RAM (2x512MB)
  • Samsung 2.5" MP0603H 60GB 5400RPM
  • Debian etch (testing) x86, kernel 2.6.15-1-686

Test Result Details

PD 3.0 -j1

real    4m43.722s
user    4m18.956s
sys     0m26.476s

PD 3.0 -j2

real    2m31.424s
user    4m21.912s
sys     0m26.169s

PD 3.0 -j3

real    2m28.268s
user    4m23.035s
sys     0m26.572s

P4 3.4 -j1

real    5m20.146s
user    4m58.271s
sys     0m25.435s

P4 3.4 -j2

real    4m15.627s
user    7m54.468s
sys     0m32.604s

P4 3.4 -j3

real    4m15.802s
user    7m55.725s
sys     0m32.327s

P4 3.0 -j1

real    6m17.667s
user    5m51.219s
sys     0m30.402s

P4 3.0 -j2

real    5m8.436s
user    9m2.112s
sys     0m39.836s

P4 3.0 -j3

real    5m5.971s
user    9m4.076s
sys     0m40.728s

Turion 1.6 -j1

real    5m57.737s
user    5m12.466s
sys     0m27.307s

Turion 1.6 -j2

real    5m53.761s
user    5m12.169s
sys     0m28.908s