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Benchmarking Amazon's ARM Graviton CPU With EC2's A1 Instances

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  • Benchmarking Amazon's ARM Graviton CPU With EC2's A1 Instances

    Phoronix: Benchmarking Amazon's ARM Graviton CPU With EC2's A1 Instances

    Monday night Amazon announced the new "A1" instance type for the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) that is powered by their own "Graviton" ARMv8 processors. Since then I have been running benchmarks on Amazon's first-generation 64-bit ARM processors and seeing how these ARM cloud instances compare to their Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC performance on EC2 in both raw performance as well as performance-per-dollar.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=27173

  • #2
    I was also using Phoronix Test Suite to run some benchmarks on the a1.4xlarge last night. It's interesting stuff.

    This article was disappointingly negative. Not everyone is running PHP, and these processors did well enough in benchmarks to be cautiously worth investigating, especially if you use a compiled application. There are also cases where someone is not CPU-bound but RAM or network bound, and these instances offer a good amount of both. These processors are also not hyperthreaded, so that might be significant for someone worried about spectre-type attacks.

    I would like to see the TechEmpower benchmark reproduced side by side on m5/m5a/a1 instances, and I wonder if they'll ever do something like that.

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    • #3
      There is no way Amazon designed and fabbed an ARMv8 64-bit cpu and the ecosystem around it to support server functionality. Where did they source the hardware from that they slapped their name on?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by xorbe View Post
        There is no way Amazon designed and fabbed an ARMv8 64-bit cpu and the ecosystem around it to support server functionality. Where did they source the hardware from that they slapped their name on?
        Amazon bought Annapurna Labs, a few years ago, so yes, they did design this cpu in-house. Amazon is probably the worlds biggest cloud infrastructure provider. They didn't fab the hardware, but neither does AMD. It's a natural progression that they would experiment with cutting out the middle-men, if not completely, at least as a lever to negotiate better cpu prices.

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        • #5
          Lets hope that amazon will invest into arm base optimization in common used libraries.
          As most of the stuff isn't optimized for NEON

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          • #6
            Hopefully Amazon soon has a second generation ARM CPU based upon the ARM Cortex-A76.

            It would be cool if Amazon made a RISC-V CPU too, but that's not gonna happen.

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            • #7
              The performance differential for PHP is quite interesting. We see that PHP is also much slower on POWER9. Perhaps a lot of the PHP7 performance improvements are related to x86 specific optimizations?

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              • #8
                Given the performance of v1 of these chips, I’d expect that Amazon is: (a) sending a message to existing CPU suppliers Intel/AMD to keep looking over their shoulders to put downward pressure on prices; and (b) buying optionality for an eventually more competitive v2.
                Fairly standard economic rationale, a la what Valve has done around Steam and Linux gaming, even if the immediate customer use case is less than compelling.

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                • #9
                  Unluckily, the results are consistent with the "ARM for servers" news of recent years. Not top performing, and not cheap enough to provide at least a better performance per price ratio - for basically every use case upwards of "smart phones" and "tablets".
                  Given that supporting ARM as another target platform also comes with some additional software maintenance cost, few will have reason to make use of these ARMs.

                  (No-fun fact: So far only did two things today on the one computer of mine that utilizes "amdgpu". Wrote one comment about amdgpu instability, and wrote this comment. And sure enough, had to reboot in between due to yet another crash. :-( )
                  Last edited by dwagner; 11-28-2018, 07:41 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by uid313 View Post
                    Hopefully Amazon soon has a second generation ARM CPU based upon the ARM Cortex-A76.

                    It would be cool if Amazon made a RISC-V CPU too, but that's not gonna happen.
                    I would not be surprised, at all, if they did make risk-v cpus. Not for consumer, but as data nodes for their internal use. Amazon invests in all sorts of unconventional hardware, like slow-data (most likely custom hardware using lto tapes, though that's not confirmed officially). When exascale comptuting starts happening, you need 128-bit risc-v (which is more like 64-bit*2). I would not rule out custom silicon risc-v from Amazon, at all.

                    Edit: one letter.

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