CentOS Stream 9 Improves Performance For Intel Xeon, AMD EPYC

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 16 December 2021. Page 1 of 5. 14 Comments

Earlier this month marked the general availability of CentOS Stream 9 as the bleeding-edge of Red hat Enterprise Linux 9 development. Since then I've been running benchmarks of CentOS Stream 9 and with modern hardware it's been offering some nice performance upgrades over CentOS Stream 8 / RHEL8 especially with modern hardware platforms like Intel Xeon Scalable "Ice Lake" and AMD EPYC 7003 "Milan" servers. Here are benchmarks of CentOS Stream8, CentOS Stream 9, Intel's Clear Linux, Fedora Server 35, Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS, and Ubuntu 21.10 on both AMD and Intel servers.

CentOS Stream 9 is the new "continuous-delivery distribution serving as the next point-release" ahead of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9. CentOS Stream 9 will carry the very latest innovations for RHEL9 and as part of that provide an early look at new hardware support and performance optimizations.

For seeing how CentOS Stream 9 and in effect RHEL9 is looking, I ran some benchmarks on AMD and Intel reference servers with their latest generation processors. The AMD server was with EPYC 7763 2P processors and the Intel server with their flagship Xeon Platinum 8380 2P processors. Both servers were using 512GB of DDR4-3200 memory and an Intel 7.6TB D7-P5510 NVme solid-state drive.

On both of these latest-generation servers, the following distributions were tested after performing clean installs and running in their out-of-the-box state:

- CentOS Stream 8 for looking at the current CentOS 8 / RHEL8 state.

- CentOS Stream 9 as the shiny new release at the bleeding-edge of what will be RHEL9.

- Clear Linux as Intel's performance-optimized rolling-release distribution.

- Fedora Server 35 as the latest upstream Fedora release.

- Ubuntu 20.04.3 as the current Long Term Support release.

- Ubuntu 21.10 as the latest non-LTS release and how performance currently looks there ahead of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.

A set of a few dozen benchmarks were carried out, focusing in on how CentOS Stream 9 looks compared to CentOS Stream 8 on these latest-generation AMD/Intel servers as well as how CentOS Stream 9 looks in relation to other Linux distributions. Over CentOS Stream 8 / RHEL8, CentOS Stream 9 means going from Linux 4.18 to Linux 5.14, GNOME Shell 40 on the desktop compared to GNOME 3.32, GCC 11.2 as the default system compiler rather than GCC 8.5, Python 3.9 rather than Python 3.6, and many other package upgrades.

CentOS Stream 9 vs. Other Linux Benchmarks

Before getting to the individual benchmark results, if looking for the "TLDR" version, here is the geometric mean of all the benchmarks carried out:

CentOS Stream 9 vs. Other Linux Benchmarks

CentOS Stream 9 offers substantial uplift over the aging RHEL8 / CentOS Stream 8 state. The AMD EPYC 7763 2P server saw a 12% improvement from CentOS Stream 8 to 9 while the Xeon Platinum 8380 2P Ice Lake server was up by 10% overall. This helped push CentOS Stream ahead of Ubuntu and even Fedora Server. However, the Intel Clear Linux results still show that on both AMD and Intel there still is room for more out-of-the-box performance... Clear Linux was still ~4% faster overall than CentOS Stream 9 on both the AMD EPYC Milan and Intel Xeon Ice Lake servers.

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