CentOS Stream & Clear Linux Achieve Greater Performance On 4th Gen Xeon Scalable Sapphire Rapids, EPYC Genoa

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 3 February 2023 at 08:48 AM EST.

As part of other ongoing performance tests of Intel 4th Gen Xeon Scalable "Sapphire Rapids" testing, I was curious to see how the more well-tuned Linux distributions are performing with the flagship Xeon Platinum 8490H processors relative to the common Ubuntu 22.04 LTS release. Here are those benchmark numbers alongside AMD's flagship Genoa server platform with two EPYC 9654 processors.

Sapphire Rapids and Genoa servers

This round of testing is looking at the performance of CentOS Stream 9, Clear Linux 38100, and Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS across the latest AMD and Intel reference platforms for Genoa and Sapphire Rapids, respectively. The Intel Eagle Stream server was equipped with two Xeon Platinum 8490H processors and 16 x 64GB DDR5-4800 memory while the AMD Titanite reference server has two EPYC 9654 processors with 24 x 64GB DDR5-4800 system memory. For this comparison of Linux distributions on the two servers, a Samsung SAMSUNG MZWLJ1T9HBJR 1.92TB NVMe SSD was used for the storage throughout all testing.

On each server all three Linux distributions were cleanly installed and then benchmarked in their out-of-the-box configuration. The one exception is doing an extra run of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS with the "perf" run where the CPU frequency scaling governor was set to the "performance" governor rather than the default. Ubuntu even on server hardware defaults to Intel P-State powersave or AMD P-State Schedutil, rather than Clear Linux and CentOS Stream being among the Linux distributions logically setting the "performance" governor by default when running on performance-class server hardware. So the "Ubuntu 22.04.1 LTS - perf" run includes that change to the performance governor while otherwise sticking to the defaults.

Sapphire Rapids   AMD Genoa - CentOS Stream 9, Clear Linux, Ubuntu

While running all of these benchmarks across AMD EPYC Genoa and Intel Xeon Sapphire Rapids hardware, the dual CPU power consumption was also monitored using the RAPL/PowerCap sysfs interfaces.

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