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The ClearFog ARM ITX Workstation Performance Is Looking Very Good

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  • #11
    Originally posted by phoron View Post
    Sorry if I'm being a bit repetitive in every thread I post. Any idea of any blobs required to run? Is there some signed bootloader or some such (or can the buyer set up his own keys if there is?). Do peripherals work without loading proprietary firmware ? If one would deblob u-boot (if needed) and install linux-libre what would work and what not ? I mean from another thread the solidrun people seem nice and open, and NXP is decent as far as I know (i.MX6quad for instance only needed firmware for SDMA and it even runs without it). It's just the mainstream trend is towards more blobs, and it would be nice to have some chart (for every board, really, not just this one) like [blob, singed?, boots without it?, features not working without it] or something. In my dreams every vendor would just go to a self-assesment for RYF compliance and publish the results even if they fail, so that buyers know which points pass and which fail. And in case they would all pass then ask for FSF certification or just say "we think we could get if we tried".
    Boot loader is open and we are working with NXP on a full SBSA compliant EDK UEFI implementation. Currently U-Boot and EDK using device-tree are available and the pieces are already being mainlined. This board is under the Qoric chip family. Nothing will be locked down on the board, even our micro-BMC control module is a fully open MC that you can put your own firmware on.

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    • #12
      Originally posted by milkylainen View Post
      The 2160A is the ultra-highend QorIQ (Layerscape) for ARM platforms. It is not surprising that it performs well.
      I am glad NXP decided to ditch a successor of the overly complex and non-generic PPC T4240.
      The T4240's non-existent data prefetcher made it horrible in single threaded performance.
      That issue is handily fixed by the A72 cores. That being said, the 2160A has been in the works since 2015 something...
      The churn rate for NXP is way to slow. As a top-end CPU offering, the A72s needs to be replaced already.
      It takes time to design and validate a SOC that can handle 100Gbps networking. Additionally this SOC was also targeting PCIe Gen4, which has now been moved to the Generation 2 of the SOC. The chip is also designed and validated for NXPs 10-Year lifecycle under extreme conditions. As you can tell from the other Workstation and Server chips the design for the caches and clusters has this SOC outperforming other ARM Server and Workstation chips out on the market. Check my benchmarks against Ampere Workstation which is 3Ghz and 32 Cores.

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      • #13
        Originally posted by wizard69 View Post
        That is very interesting. Frankly some of those numbers are so good you should have an AMD or Intel board in the graph mix. This is obviously a different class of performance.
        I posted comparisons against Amazon Gravitron as well. The links are in another post.

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        • #14
          Originally posted by boeroboy View Post
          This is too cool. Great NAS box if you're lucky enough to have 10gbe. Any word on power consumption?
          The SOC is rated at 32W. Here is a tweet about my estimate for what the Workstation will use. I will post accurate numbers once the next run of boards is ready.

          https://twitter.com/linux4kix/status...26205628997632

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          • #15
            Originally posted by elatllat View Post
            Odd that the SBCs I would compare that to are not on the list;
            ROCKPro64(RK3399), ODROID-N2(S922X)
            and because they are 1/10 the price I'd expect a $/performance cluster comparison.
            I aim to please. https://openbenchmarking.org/result/...JONA-190421156

            The low end ARM64 SBC is not really the market we are aiming for. This is a true workstation class SOC and Motherboard. This is a platform with enough power / storage / memory that can be used as a full time desktop if desired. Fire up a couple of VMS, some containers and whatever else is needed for an ARM developer needs. Options like 64GB of memory, 10Gbps Ethernet, NVME, and lots of SATA storage all put this in a class above most other ARM64 boards being produced.

            I would also note for people concerned about it using Cortex-A72 cores vs newer models. The N2 has Cortex-A73's at only 100Mhz slower clock and in the single threaded GraphicsMagick tests you see a huge performance difference to the favour of the A72 Cores. This is because they are designed for a high power configuration, with a much better cache, and much faster memory.
            Last edited by linux4kix; 06-02-2019, 05:14 AM.

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            • #16
              Originally posted by DoMiNeLa10 View Post
              2019 is THE year of Linux on ARM (…) more and more chips have mainline support
              … but still require a board specific device tree and u-boot, and therefore still a board specific OS image. Maybe to select the device tree, I don't know.

              SBSA is a standard meant to solve this, and this will hopefully be the first consumer board to be SBSA compliant.

              When multiple boards can boot the same OS image, we are at the year of Linux on ARM.

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              • #17

                This brings up a question; is there a recommended distro for this board? Also does that distro ship with the LLVM/CLang suite of tools.

                I know now there are several distros shipping ARM variants but there is a lot of variability in ARM hardware so it is easy to see that one might be better than another.

                Originally posted by linux4kix View Post

                I aim to please. https://openbenchmarking.org/result/...JONA-190421156

                The low end ARM64 SBC is not really the market we are aiming for. This is a true workstation class SOC and Motherboard. This is a platform with enough power / storage / memory that can be used as a full time desktop if desired. Fire up a couple of VMS, some containers and whatever else is needed for an ARM developer needs. Options like 64GB of memory, 10Gbps Ethernet, NVME, and lots of SATA storage all put this in a class above most other ARM64 boards being produced.

                I would also note for people concerned about it using Cortex-A72 cores vs newer models. The N2 has Cortex-A73's at only 100Mhz slower clock and in the single threaded GraphicsMagick tests you see a huge performance difference to the favour of the A72 Cores. This is because they are designed for a high power configuration, with a much better cache, and much faster memory.

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                • #18
                  Originally posted by wizard69 View Post
                  This brings up a question; is there a recommended distro for this board? Also does that distro ship with the LLVM/CLang suite of tools.

                  I know now there are several distros shipping ARM variants but there is a lot of variability in ARM hardware so it is easy to see that one might be better than another.


                  The Ultimate goal is for SBSA compliance which means any distro with a new enough kernel should boot and run on the board. Of course getting everything into mainline will take some time. We are already working with many of the major distros making sure we have everything necessary to have the board supported as soon as possible.

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                  • #19
                    Yeah, but how does it compare against Intel Core i5 and i7?
                    Or even an AMD Epyc or Intel Xeon?

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                    • #20
                      So comparing the numbers here to some ryzen 1700 on the open benchmarking size, it seems this board+SoC has 50-75% of the performance.

                      Given that both perf is lower and price is higher (than combined ryzen + motherboard), what is the target market of this?

                      Main thing I'm seeing is that power might be lower and that requires less cooling (The board is shown without fan, which might point to that direction)

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