Ampere Altra Max M128-30 Linux Performance Preview

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 28 September 2021 at 09:30 AM EDT.

The past month we have started our testing of Ampere's Altra Max M128-30, the company's new 128 core server processor, and in this article today are our initial benchmarks of this promising chip for high core count servers in both 1P and 2P configurations tested.

At the end of 2020 we looked at Ampere Altra that offered up to 80 cores per socket using Neoverse N1 cores on a TSMC 7nm process, supporting eight channels of DDR4-3200 memory, 128 PCI Express Gen4 lanes, and other features that put it in line for competing with the latest AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon wares. Ampere is now shipping the Altra Max as a drop-in upgrade that offers up to 128 cores per socket.

The Ampere Altra flagship was the Q80-33 that has 80 cores able to run at a 3.3GHz maximum clock speed with a 250 Watt TDP. With Ampere Altra Max the flagship processor is currently the M128-30 that has a 3.0GHz maximum clock speed for its 128 cores. (The model numbers from Ampere continue to be quite practical and convenient!) Ampere Altra Max processors continue to use the Neoverse N1 cores, support eight channels of DDR4-3200 ECC memory, 128 lanes of PCIe Gen4, and other features in common with Altra. Like the Q80-33, the M128-30 does maintain the same 250 watt TDP rating.

It's next year as a reminder that succeeding Ampere Altra Max will be the introduction of the company's own Arm core designs. Ampere Computing remains light on those details surrounding "Ampere Cores" but will be interesting to learn more in the months ahead.

Ampere Altra Max processors are a drop-in upgrade to Ampere Altra with an updated BMC and system firmware. Using the Mount Jade reference server, it was a straight-forward process and just like x86_64 servers for carrying out the firmware updates. Once doing so, Ampere Altra Max M128-30 was up and running for tests in both 1P and 2P configurations.

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