Lately we have been talking a lot about Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors under Linux due to their very competitive performance and interesting graphics abilities, but on the AMD side there has not been too much to talk about. On the low-end there is the intriguing Fusion APUs, but on the high-end they don't have an answer to Sandy Bridge until delivering their new "Bulldozer" products closer to the summer. Fortunately, we have the first Linux scoop and performance benchmarks from engineering samples of their 16-core Interlagos server chip.
AMD's first Bulldozer CPUs are to be launched sometime next quarter and will represent a brand new CPU design from the ground-up, the first major re-design since the original K8 Athlon 64 / Opteron CPUs. These processors will be built on a 32nm SOI process technology and are expected to boast between four and eight cores for desktops and for workstations up to a 16-core Opteron processor known as Interlagos.
While we do not yet have any Bulldozer CPUs ourself yet -- nor are we under NDAs or other briefed matters on the topic since we have not even been offered sample CPUs from Advanced Micro Devices in years -- we do happen to have received benchmarks months in advance of the product's availability. Flowing into OpenBenchmarking.org, our new collaborative benchmarking platform launched last month, there's been one independent AMD server partner that has manually submitted their test results and system details. As such, "AMD Eng Sample ZS182045TGG43_28" is one of the new CPUs discovered by OpenBenchmarking.org. AMD Eng Sample ZS182045TGG43_28 is one of the new 16-core Interlagos Opteron chips.
This AMD Bulldozer processor designed for servers/workstations has already been benchmarked with SuSE Linux 11, Ubuntu 10.04, CentOS 5.4, and Arch Linux. Results in particular have been flowing in today for a dual Interlagos-Bulldozer CPU. This testing has been done with Arch Linux on the Linux 2.6.37 kernel and using just not one of these CPUs but two of them, to provide a total of 32 processing cores. The power offered by this yet-to-be-released server is impressive and fortunately, the owner of this unreleased hardware has decided to share the results on our platform.
Testing of the AMD Interlagos CPUs is being done from a Supermicro H8DGU motherboard, which is not too surprising, and is loaded with 64GB of RAM on a 2TB SATA drive. It has already been reported that AMD's Bulldozer CPUs should be Socket G34 compatible with existing AMD Opteron 6000-series CPUs. The Supermicro H8DGU boasts dual CPU sockets for AMD Opteron CPUs. It appears to be working just fine with Linux under these latest distributions.
One of the early dual Interlagos results from the 32 cores running at 1.8GHz indicates that its C-Ray time is a mere 25 seconds. C-Ray happens to be one of our favorite multi-threaded ray-tracing benchmarks. What does this compare to? Well, running an easy OpenBenchmarking.org comparison shows just how fast AMD's Bulldozer is looking to be. While there are other software/hardware differences in play too, the 32-core 1.80GHz Bulldozer system's 25 seconds compared to the Intel Core i5 2500K (quad-core + Hyper Threading; 3.3GHz + 3.7GHz Intel Turbo Boost) at 61 seconds or the dual quad-core AMD Opteron 2384 system of ours taking 127 seconds to complete. The Intel Core i7 970 (six cores + Hyper Threading; 3.2GHz Base Frequency + 3.46GHz Turbo Boost) comes in at about 61 seconds too.