1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

12-Core ARM Cluster Benchmarked Against Intel Atom, Ivy Bridge, AMD Fusion

Michael Larabel

Published on 14 June 2012
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 16 - 20 Comments

Last week I shared my plans to build a low-cost, 12-core, 30-watt ARMv7 cluster running Ubuntu Linux. The ARM cluster that is built around the PandaBoard ES development boards is now online and producing results... Quite surprising results actually for a low-power Cortex-A9 compute cluster. Results include performance-per-Watt comparisons to Intel Atom and Ivy Bridge processors along with AMD's Fusion APU.

As talked about in last week's preview, six PandaBoard ES development boards were used to form this cluster. A single PandaBoard ES is already quite decent in terms of ARMv7 performance when running Ubuntu 12.04 thanks to improvements made in supporting the board's ARM SoC, Ubuntu switching to hardfp packages by default, and other Linux optimizations coming out of upstream and the Linaro camp. The PandaBoard ES uses the OMAP4460 SoC (this is an upgrade over the original PandaBoard bearing an OMAP4430 with 1.0GHz Cortex-A9 MPCore) from Texas Instruments that provides a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. (The OMAP4460 also has PowerVR graphics, but that is not important for these cluster purposes.) On the PandaBoard ES there is 1GB of system memory, 10/100 Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI output, and an SD/SDHC slot for storage.

This Phoronix twelve ARM core cluster, which is dubbed "Effimaß", is uniquely constructed out of a dish drying rack. As far as the reasoning for this, "One of the unusual things I'm trying for this build is to assemble it all within a wooden dish drying rack. This isn't the first time that ARM development boards have been used in a cluster, with Ubuntu/Linaro and others using PandaBoard clusters for their build farm, etc. The other approaches to efficiently managing all of the boards with minimal space has been stacking them with spacers between the PCBs, etc...The issues I see with that though is it makes the boards not swappable at all without dismantling the entire stack, time consuming to setup, and requires special parts...These racks can be found for a few dollars on the Internet, can be used almost "out of the box", would allow for multiple different development boards / PCB sizes / mounting hole differences, very easy to swap out boards, could be fabricated from scratch quite easily, and allow for fairly high density clusters in compact space. The shape should also allow for managing cables and placing of AC power supplies (underneath) fairly easy. The size of this dish drying rack though for a current six-board cluster is a bit large, but this concept may end up working quite well for others."

Each PandaBoard ES had a 16GB SDHC Class-10 card for storage and the head node was using NFS to share a home directory to the other nodes. MPICH2 was being used for the MPI cluster configuration atop Ubuntu 12.04. Ubuntu 12.10 offers some remarkable ARM performance gains on the OMAP4 hardware due to the newer Linux kernel (version 3.4 at present, compared to Linux 3.2 on Ubuntu 12.04) and the major compiler upgrade (GCC 4.7 vs. GCC 4.6), but due to some early configuration problems with the post-alpha-one snapshot, the installations were reverted to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Ubuntu 12.10 will be loaded up on this compute cluster in the coming weeks and should result in double-digit gains.

The PandaBoards can be powered off USB, but I ended up using AC adapters for each of the PandaBoards in order to be able to better monitor the overall power draw in different configurations using a WattsUp USB-based AC power meter that then interfaces with the Phoronix Test Suite for automated power monitoring while benchmarking.

Latest Articles & Reviews
  1. Linux Compiler Benchmarks Of LLVM Clang 3.5 vs. LLVM Clang 3.6-rc1
  2. Intel Broadwell HD Graphics 5500: Windows 8.1 vs. Linux
  3. Linux Benchmarks Of NVIDIA's Early 2015 GeForce Line-Up
  4. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960: A Great $200 GPU For Linux Gamers
  5. Disk Encryption Tests On Fedora 21
  6. Xonotic 0.8 Performance With The Open-Source AMD/NVIDIA Gallium3D Drivers
Latest Linux News
  1. Debian 8.0 "Jessie" Installer RC1 Released
  2. Chromebook "Rush" With 64-bit Tegra SoC Support Lands In Coreboot
  3. 2015 X.Org Elections Get Underway For Board Members, SPI Merger
  4. Linux 3.19-rc6 Kernel Released: LInux 3.19 Final In Two Weeks
  5. Ubuntu's Mir Gains Server-Side Platform Probing
  6. Broadwell Linux Ultrabook Running MUCH Cooler Than Haswell
  7. LZHAM 1.0 Lossless Data Compression Codec Released
  8. LibreOffice 4.4 Is Coming Soon With New Features
  9. Linux Users Upset By Chromium's Busted HiDPI Support
  10. BPF Backend Merged Into LLVM To Make Use Of New Kernel Functionality
Most Viewed News This Week
  1. Windows 10 To Be A Free Upgrade: What Linux Users Need To Know
  2. Google Admin Encourages Trying Btrfs, Not ZFS On Linux
  3. TraceFS: The Newest Linux File-System
  4. My Initial Intel Broadwell Linux Experience With The ThinkPad X1 Carbon
  5. Mozilla's Servo Still On Track For 2015 Alpha Release
  6. Fedora 23 Likely To Pursue Wayland By Default
  7. Keith Packard Leaves Intel's Linux Graphics Work
  8. A Proposal To Go 64-bit Only With Fedora 23