A Look At How The Linux Performance Has Evolved Since The AMD EPYC Launch

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 7 June 2019. Page 1 of 6. 11 Comments

With next-generation EPYC processors expected to be released next quarter, it's a good time to see how the performance of the original EPYC 7601 32-core / 64-thread processor's performance has evolved on Linux since its 2017 launch. This article is looking at the performance of an AMD EPYC 7601 Tyan server when running Ubuntu 17.04 as the newest stable Ubuntu release when EPYC was originally introduced in June 2017 compared to the performance when running the new Ubuntu 19.04 as well as jumping ahead to running the in-development Linux 5.2 kernel release. Additionally, the Ubuntu 19.04 + Linux 5.2 kernel configuration when also disabling Spectre mitigations.

Given our passion for Linux benchmarking, this article was primarily driven out of curiosity sake for seeing how the AMD EPYC performance has evolved under Linux since launch. Some of the changes to the performance since 2017 have been as a result of more Zen "znver1" tuning within the GCC compiler and other AMD EPYC/Zen optimizations but also plenty of broad/general Linux performance optimizations to the kernel, GNU C Library, and many other key components of Linux seeing improvements over the past two years.

For this reference benchmarking, the top-tier AMD EPYC 7601 processor was running in a Tyan 2U barebones server we have used for most of our EPYC 1P benchmarking over the past two years and continues working faithfully even after thousands of hours of intensive benchmarks. This EPYC 7601 server was equipped with 128GB of DDR4 memory an Intel Optane 900p 800GB NVMe SSD for storage. The same hardware was obviously maintained the same throughout the benchmarking process.

Ubuntu 17.04 was freshly tested with all available stable release updates. This release of Ubuntu Linux came out just prior to the June 2017 launch of EPYC. The 17.04 release offered the Linux 4.10 kernel and GCC 6.3 compiler as the key components to note. With Ubuntu 19.04 meanwhile there is the Linux 5.0 kernel and GCC 8.3.

After the stock Ubuntu 19.04 testing with all available stable release updates, tests were repeated when using the latest Linux 5.2 development kernel as of this week. The stable Linux 5.2 kernel isn't expected to debut until July. An additional run was done with "mitigations=off" for seeing the impact of AMD's Spectre mitigations on this latest Linux stack. All of these benchmarks were facilitated using the Phoronix Test Suite.

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