Benchmarks Of The 24-Core ARM Socionext 96Boards Developerbox

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 29 August 2018. Page 1 of 4. 41 Comments

Announced last October was a 24-core ARM developer box being worked on by Linaro/96Boards, Socionext, and Gigabyte. The specifications are appealing with twenty-four ARM 64-bit cores with the SoC on a micro-ATX sized motherboard, support for a PCI Express graphics slot, and onboard Gigabit Ethernet. Here are our first benchmarks of this Socionext 96Boards Developerbox.

From the quick overview of a 24-core ARM SoC / micro-ATX board / removable DDR4-2133 UDIMMs / PCI Express x16 slot / Gigabit NIC it certainly sounds very exciting... But this "Developerbox" will set you back about $1200 USD. Additionally, the 24 ARM cores are Cortex-A53 and not the more powerful A57 or newer AArch64 cores. Also, these Cortex-A53 cores top out at 1.0GHz. The price is obviously the biggest setback for this developer box built around the Socionext SC2A11 SoC... In fact, it's very hefty as that is approaching what it would cost to build a fully-open and more powerful platform using IBM POWER9 and the Talos Workstation boards. Of course, if not caring about the openness of the hardware, etc, this 24-core ARM platform is more expensive than most AMD Threadripper processors and also some of Intel's Core i9 parts, etc. With the low clock speed on these Cortex-A53 cores, this Developerbox is really meant for multi-threaded ARM workload -- like an ARM build farm.

A Phoronix reader happened to take on the $1200 USD investment for the Socionext 96Boards Developer box and was kind enough to grant me remote SSH access to the system for carrying out some benchmarks.

With his 24-core Socionext 96Boards Developerbox he loaded it up with 32GB of DDR4-2133MHz memory, a 1TB Samsung 970 EVO SSD, and GeForce GT 710 graphics. The box was running Ubuntu 18.04 during testing with the Linux 4.15 AArch64 kernel and GCC 7.3.0 code compiler and other default Bionic Beaver packages.

For $1200 USD, the price on this Developerbox does get you a case and power supply. Granted, the chassis looks to be similar to one I had about two decades ago.

Using a Kill-A-Watt meter he found the system to pull about 14 Watts under load without the graphics card and about 12 Watts while idle.

After running some remote benchmarks on this 24-core Socionext SC2A11 platform, I compared its performance to various other ARM and x86_64 systems I had available:

- Raspberry Pi 2 B... After all, in the ARM space most will be curious about how the performance compares to this most common ARM SBC.

- Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ for seeing how the $1200 ARM developer box compares to the newest Raspberry Pi $35 board.

- The NVIDIA Jetson TX2 Developer Kit granted it's geared more for GPU/CUDA-accelerated workloads, but it was tested for comparison anyhow with its two Denver and four ARM Cortex-A57 cores. This is presently the most performant ARM developer board in my possession.

- The Intel Core i3 7100 dual-core (plus HT) system with 8GB of RAM and using a Gigabyte B250M-DS3H motherboard.

- The Intel Core i5 8400 six-core processor with 8GB of RAM and using the MSI Z370M MORTAR motherboard.

- The AMD Ryzen 3 1300X quad-core processor with 8GB of RAM and the ASRock AB350 Pro4 motherboard.

So this 96Boards Developerbox is being benchmarked against the well known Raspberry Pi boards, the high-end NVIDIA Jetson TX2, and then some lower-end Intel and AMD modern CPUs in this AArch64/x86_64 Linux benchmark comparison.

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