12-Core ARM Cluster Benchmarked Against Intel Atom, Ivy Bridge, AMD Fusion
Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 14 June 2012. Page 16 of 16. 20 Comments

The PandaBoard ES did better than the Intel Atom hardware that was tested in terms of performance and energy efficiency, but the ARMv7 Cortex-A9 processors vastly lost out to the Intel Ivy Bridge hardware in terms of raw performance (obviously) but also the power efficiency was even better for this latest-generation Intel architecture. Besides winning on performance and efficiency, the Core i7 3770K system would cost less than the cost of a six PandaBoard ES cluster setup.

Comparing the Effimaß cluster to the AMD Fusion E-350, the Zacate APU had better raw performance but the ARM cluster was the performance-per-Watt leader.

While this do-it-yourself ARM cluster configuration is not the most effective setup right now, it will be interesting to see how the cluster performance works out for the next-generation ARMv8 hardware as well as the many ARM core servers coming out, such as the upcoming products from Calxeda.

Aside from wanting to upgrade the cluster to Ubuntu 12.10 for GCC 4.7 and the other newer packages that boost the ARM Linux performance, other planned optimizations include: investigating performance differences if using a high-speed NAS with NFS mount for the cluster rather than SDHC cards (e.g. using something like the Excito B3) or a USB-based SSD, kernel tweaks, other ARMv7 compiler tuning, and some other modifications to see how far the PandaBoard ES hardware can be pushed while keeping to minimal power use.

More ARM Linux benchmarks are forthcoming. There will also be information soon about a 48 PandaBoard cluster.

About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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