Ubuntu vs. Debian vs. openSUSE On The POWER9 Raptor Talos II

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 1 February 2019. Page 1 of 4. 15 Comments

While we frequently compare the performance of many x86_64 Linux distributions, we haven't done one under IBM POWER9 since getting our hands on the Raptor Computing Systems' Talos II back in November. It's been very interesting to benchmark this libre hardware that's high performance with having 44 cores / 176 threads at 3.80GHz. But how much more performance can be tapped by using other Linux distributions? Here's a look with some of the current POWER9 Linux distribution options.

Our testing of the Talos II to date has mostly been with Ubuntu 18.10 given that it's worked very well on the Talos II and not presented any problems. But for this article is seeing how the Ubuntu 18.10 performance compares to Debian 9.7, Debian Buster (Testing), openSUSE Tumbleweed, and the Ubuntu 19.04 daily snapshot. These Linux distributions all loaded up and ran nicely on the Talos II Secure Workstation. As a reminder, this system contains two 22-core IBM POWER9 processors yielding a combined 44 cores / 176 threads, 64GB of DDR4 memory, and the Talos II motherboard that is assembled in Texas. The storage used for testing was a Samsung 960 EVO 500GB NVMe solid-state drive.

All five of these Linux distributions were tested out-of-the-box. For the comparison I limited them to the distributions that offer POWER9/PPC64LE support. Details on other operating system compatibility can be found via this Wiki page. Fedora Server does offer a POWER build, but unfortunately it seemed to hang within its installer. FreeBSD 12.0 also has initial POWER9 support but better support with FreeBSD 13.0-CURRENT, but due to that shipping with debug builds by default, it was left out of this round of performance testing.

All of these POWER9 Linux benchmarks were carried out using the Phoronix Test Suite.

Related Articles