Test Bed and Setup - Compiler Options

For the rest of our performance testing, we’re disclosing the details of the various test setups:

Intel - Dual Xeon Platinum 8380

For our new Ice Lake test system based on the Whiskey Lake platform, we’re using Intel’s SDP (Software Development Platform 2SW3SIL4Q, featuring a 2-socket Intel server board (Coyote Pass).

The system is an airflow optimised 2U rack unit with otherwise little fanfare.

Our review setup solely includes the new Intel Xeon 8380 with 40 cores, 2.3GHz base clock, 3.0GHz all-core boost, and 3.4GHz peak single core boost. That’s unusual about this part as noted in the intro, it’s running at a default 205W TDP which is above what we’ve seen from previous generation non-specialised Intel SKUs.

CPU 2x Intel Xeon Platinum 8380 (2.3-3.4 GHz, 40c, 60MB L3, 270W)
RAM 512 GB (16x32 GB) SK Hynix DDR4-3200
Internal Disks Intel SSD P5510 7.68TB
Motherboard Intel Coyote Pass (Server System S2W3SIL4Q)
PSU 2x Platinum 2100W

The system came with several SSDs including Optane SSD P5800X’s, however we ran our test suite on the P5510 – not that we’re I/O affected in our current benchmarks anyhow.

As per Intel guidance, we’re using the latest BIOS available with the 270 release microcode update.

Intel - Dual Xeon Platinum 8280

For the older Cascade Lake Intel system we’re also using a test-bench setup with the same SSD and OS image as on the EPYC 7742 system.

Because the Xeons only have 6-channel memory, their maximum capacity is limited to 384GB of the same Micron memory, running at a default 2933MHz to remain in-spec with the processor’s capabilities.

CPU 2x Intel Xeon Platinum 8280  (2.7-4.0 GHz, 28c, 38.5MB L3, 205W)
RAM 384 GB (12x32 GB) Micron DDR4-3200 (Running at 2933MHz)
Internal Disks Crucial MX300 1TB
Motherboard ASRock EP2C621D12 WS
PSU EVGA 1600 T2 (1600W)

The Xeon system was similarly run on BIOS defaults on an ASRock EP2C621D12 WS with the latest firmware available.

AMD - Dual EPYC 7763 / 7713 / 75F3 / 7662

In terms of testing the new EPYC 7003 series CPUs, unfortunately due to our malfunctioning Daytona server, we weren’t able to get first-hand experience with the hardware. AMD graciously gave us remote access to one of their server clusters – we had full controls of the system in terms of BMC as well as BIOS settings.

CPU ​2x AMD EPYC 7763 (2.45-3.500 GHz, 64c, 256 MB L3, 280W) /
2x AMD EPYC 7713 (2.00-3.365 GHz, 64c, 256 MB L3, 225W) /
2x AMD EPYC 75F3 (3.20-4.000 GHz, 32c, 256 MB L3, 280W) /
2x AMD EPYC 7662 (2.00-3.300 GHz, 64c, 256 MB L3, 225W)
RAM 512 GB (16x32 GB) Micron DDR4-3200
Internal Disks Varying
Motherboard Daytona reference board: S5BQ
PSU PWS-1200

Software wise, we ran Ubuntu 20.10 images with the latest release 5.11 Linux kernel. Performance settings both on the OS as well on the BIOS were left to default settings, including such things as a regular Schedutil based frequency governor and the CPUs running performance determinism mode at their respective default TDPs unless otherwise indicated.

AMD - Dual EPYC 7742

Our local AMD EPYC 7742 system, due to the aforementioned issues with the Daytona hardware, is running on a SuperMicro H11DSI Rev 2.0.

CPU ​2x AMD EPYC 7742 (2.25-3.4 GHz, 64c, 256 MB L3, 225W)
RAM 512 GB (16x32 GB) Micron DDR4-3200
Internal Disks Crucial MX300 1TB
Motherboard SuperMicro H11DSI0
PSU EVGA 1600 T2 (1600W)

As an operating system we’re using Ubuntu 20.10 with no further optimisations. In terms of BIOS settings we’re using complete defaults, including retaining the default 225W TDP of the EPYC 7742’s, as well as leaving further CPU configurables to auto, except of NPS settings where it’s we explicitly state the configuration in the results.

The system has all relevant security mitigations activated against speculative store bypass and Spectre variants.

Ampere "Mount Jade" - Dual Altra Q80-33

The Ampere Altra system we’re using the provided Mount Jade server as configured by Ampere. The system features 2 Altra Q80-33 processors within the Mount Jade DVT motherboard from Ampere.

In terms of memory, we’re using the bundled 16 DIMMs of 32GB of Samsung DDR4-3200 for a total of 512GB, 256GB per socket.

CPU ​2x Ampere Altra Q80-33 (3.3 GHz, 80c, 32 MB L3, 250W)
RAM 512 GB (16x32 GB) Samsung DDR4-3200
Internal Disks Samsung MZ-QLB960NE 960GB
Samsung MZ-1LB960NE 960GB
Motherboard Mount Jade DVT Reference Motherboard
PSU 2000W (94%)

The system came preinstalled with CentOS 8 and we continued usage of that OS. It’s to be noted that the server is naturally Arm SBSA compatible and thus you can run any kind of Linux distribution on it.

The only other note to make of the system is that the OS is running with 64KB pages rather than the usual 4KB pages – this either can be seen as a testing discrepancy or an advantage on the part of the Arm system given that the next page size step for x86 systems is 2MB – which isn’t feasible for general use-case testing and something deployments would have to decide to explicitly enable.

The system has all relevant security mitigations activated, including SSBS (Speculative Store Bypass Safe) against Spectre variants.

The system has all relevant security mitigations activated against the various vulnerabilities.

Compiler Setup

For compiled tests, we’re using the release version of GCC 10.2. The toolchain was compiled from scratch on both the x86 systems as well as the Altra system. We’re using shared binaries with the system’s libc libraries.

Ice Lake Xeon Processor List and Competition Topology, Memory Subsystem & Latency
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  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - link

    Reading the conclusion I’m confused by how it’s possible for the product to be a success and for it to be both slower and more expensive.

    ‘But Intel has 10nm in a place where it is economically viable’

    Is that the full-fat 10nm or a simplified/weaker version? I can’t remember but vaguely recall something about Intel having had to back away from some of the tech improvements it had said would be in its 10nm.
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - link

    Because there is more than the benchmarks that are in this review to making decisions when buying servers. Intel's entire ecosystem is an advantage much bigger than AMD's lead in benchmarks, as is Intel's ability to deliver high volume. The product will be a success because it will sell a lot of hardware. It will, however, allow a certain amount of market share to be lost to AMD, but less thanwpuld be lost without it. It will also cut into profit margins compared to if the Intel chips were even with the AMD ones in the benchmarks, or if Intel's 10 nm was as cost effective as they'd like it to be (but TSMC's 7 nm is not as cost effect as Intel would like they're processes to be, either).
  • RanFodar - Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - link

  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - link

    So, the argument here is that the article should have been all that instead of focusing on benchmarks.
  • Yojimbo - Friday, April 9, 2021 - link

    I never made any argument or made any suggestions for the article, I only tried to clear up your confusion: "Reading the conclusion I’m confused by how it’s possible for the product to be a success and for it to be both slower and more expensive." Perhaps the author should have been more explicit as to why he made his conclusion. To me, the publishing of server processor benchmarks on a hardware enthusiast site like this is mostly for entertainment purposes, although it might influence some retail investors. They are just trying to pit the processor itself against its competitors. "How does Intel's server chip stack up against AMD's server chip?" It's like watching the ball game at the bar.
  • mode_13h - Saturday, April 10, 2021 - link

    > To me, the publishing of server processor benchmarks on a hardware enthusiast site like this is mostly for entertainment purposes, although it might influence some retail investors.

    You might be surprised. I'm a software developer at a hardware company and we use benchmarks on sites like this to give us a sense of the hardware landscape. Of course, we do our own, internal testing, with our own software, before making any final decisions.

    I'd guess that you'll find systems admins of SMEs that still use on-prem server hardware are probably also looking at reviews like these.
  • Oxford Guy - Sunday, April 11, 2021 - link

    It's impossible to post a rebuttal (i.e. 'clear up your confusion') without making one or more arguments.

    I rebutted your rebuttal.

    You argued against the benchmarks being seen as important. I pointed out that that means the article shouldn't have been pages of benchmarks. You had nothing.
  • trivik12 - Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - link

    I wish there were test done with 2nd gen Optane memory. isn't that one of the selling point of Intel Xeon that is not there in Epyc or Arm Servers. Also please do benchmarks with P5800X optane SSD as that is supposedly fastest SSD around.
  • Frank_M - Thursday, April 8, 2021 - link

    Optane and Thunderbolt.
  • Azix - Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - link

    There's a reason intel's data center revenues are still massive compared to AMDs. These will sell in large quantities because AMD can't supply.

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