Test Driving A 64-Thread POWER9 Workstation, Initial Performance Against A 96-Core ARM

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 28 March 2018 at 08:30 PM EDT. 25 Comments
As of yesterday, Raptor Computing Systems has begun shipping the Talos II Workstation in volume. This POWER9 system is open down to the firmware and schematics while delivering quite a practical performance punch compared to today's proprietary x86/ARM servers.

The Talos II is the new POWER9 system that we've been looking forward to for months. and includes a motherboard with PCI Express 4.0 and single/dual POWER9 CPU configurations.

Results shared a few months ago by Raptor indicated POWER9 could be a game-changer for crypto-currency mining, among other basic benchmarks offered thus far. Raptor Engineering has now granted us remote access to one of their new POWER9 Talos II systems for some Linux benchmarking.

The system we have begun testing has 64 threads (dual eight core CPUs, four threads per core), 262GB of RAM, Radeon Pro WX 7100 graphics card, and was pre-loaded with Debian Testing using the Linux 4.16 PPC64LE kernel and using the GCC 7.3 code compiler.

I have just begun testing this POWER9 system earlier today, so I don't yet have any definitive benchmarks to publish. I will though have more data in the days ahead.

As some teaser results, below are some results for this system compared to the recently-tested Cavium ThunderX 96-core ARMv8 server board... 96 ARMv8 cores against 16 cores / 64 threads of POWER9.

It's a fairly promising start at least compared to a modern 96-core AArch64 server. My benchmarks in the next few days though will compare this TALOS II workstation performance to a few Xeon and EPYC x86 systems around here while also using Debian Testing.

The other purpose of this article was to call for any test requests for what you may be interested in seeing benchmarked out of POWER9 with the Phoronix Test Suite. If you have any test requests let me know ASAP as I will likely have just another day or so of remote access to this beastly system for testing.

Over night you can also begin to see a random assortment of benchmark results for this Raptor POWER9 system via this OpenBenchmarking.org search query. Hit it up for some additional data points and remember you can easily compare your own system's performance to any of the saved result files using the Phoronix Test Suite.

Those wanting to learn more about the now-shipping Talos II Secure Workstation can do so at RaptorCS.com and thanks to Raptor for allowing us remote access to one of their high-end systems for Linux testing.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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