An Initial Look At The IBM POWER9 4-Core / 16-Thread CPU Performance On The Blackbird

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 1 July 2019. Page 1 of 3. 42 Comments

A few weeks ago we received a POWER9 Raptor Blackbird for testing that features an IBM POWER9 4-core (16 thread) processor clocked at 3.80GHz. For those curious about the performance potential for low-end POWER9 parts compared to the more common high-core/thread count POWER processors we have benchmarked before like in the Talos II server, here are some initial tests of that petite POWER9 processor.

The Blackbird configuration we have been testing features the single POWER9 4c/16t CPU with Blackbird motherboard, 128GB of RAM, 1TB Samsung NVMe SSD, and onboard ASpeed display (dGPU testing to come). I ran some benchmarks of this POWER9 processor against a few other low and higher-end Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors for reference perspective.

The 4-core POWER9 CPU has a 3.2GHz base frequency with 3.8GHz turbo, 90 Watt TDP, 32KB L1 cache, 512KB L2 cache/core, and 10MB L3 cache/core. This CP9M01 processor is manufactured on a 14nm FinFET process. Raptor Computing Systems sells the 4-core processor for $375 USD.

All of the x86_64 and POWER9 desktop processors tested were done using Ubuntu 19.04 while upgrading to the Linux 5.2 Git kernel and also building the GCC 9.1 release compiler for each platform. The benchmarks were carried out while the CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS were set to "-O3 -march=native" (or "-O3 -mcpu=native") in the case of POWER). The CPU vulnerability mitigations were at their defaults and in the case of the POWER9 set to the less strict kernel protection only mode (more details in our Blackbird speculative execution testing). Various benchmarks were run via the Phoronix Test Suite for getting an initial idea for the POWER9 4-core performance in open-source workloads that built successfully for POWER9.

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