13-Way IBM POWER9 Talos II vs. Intel Xeon vs. AMD Linux Benchmarks On Debian

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 25 June 2018. Page 1 of 6. 68 Comments

Back in April we were able to run some IBM POWER9 benchmarks with remote access to the open-source friendly Talos II systems by Raptor Computer Systems. We were recently allowed remote access again to a few different configurations of this libre hardware with three different POWER9 processor combinations. Here are those latest benchmarks compared to Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC server processors.

Raptor Computer Systems continues advancing the Talos II as some of the most performant hardware that is fully open-source down to the firmware and BMC. The specs are competitive with supporting the latest IBM POWER9 CPUs and the motherboard support PCI Express 4.0, DDR4, etc. While the Talos II initially launched and is quite expensive, Raptor recently debuted the Talos II Lite that is significantly cheaper with being a single-socket motherboard.

The Talos II configurations we were provided remote access to included a dual 4-core Talos II, a Talos II Lite with a single 22-core CPU (their highest-end POWER9 CPU available), and then also the Talos II with dual 18-core processors. As a reminder, with POWER9 there are four CPU threads available per core so that takes the total thread count on these systems to 32, 88, and 144 threads respectively. All of these Talos II systems were run with an AMD Radeon Pro WX7100 graphics card, Samsung 960 EVO SSD, and 64~256GB of DDR4 memory. All of these systems were running Debian Testing with the Linux 4.17 PPC64LE kernel.

For comparing the POWER9 performance, I then benchmarked a number of my Xeon/EPYC systems locally while using Debian Testing with Linux 4.17 too. While using a Samsung SSD and matching the installed memory to the maximum number of supported memory channels per system. Those other test systems based upon the hardware I had available included:

- Xeon E3-1280 v5 Skylake processor that is quad-core / eight threads and was tested with the MSI Z170A SLI PLUS.

- Xeon E5-1680 v3 Haswell processor that is eight cores / sixteen threads and tested with the ASUS X99-A motherboard.

- Xeon E5-2609 v4 Broadwell processor that offers eight physical cores and tested with the MSI X99A RAIDER motherboard.

- Xeon E5-2687W v3 that is a 10 core / 20 thread Haswell era system with the MSI X99S SLI PLUS motherboard.

- Xeon Silver 4108 the Skylake Xeon Scalable system offering eight cores / 16 threads and tested with the Tyan S7100AG2NR motherboard.

- 2 x Xeon Gold 6138 processors that are 20 core / 40 threads per CPU and thus a total of 40 cores / 80 threads and tested using the Tyan S7106 platform.

- EPYC 7251 eight core / 16 thread processor. All of the EPYC CPUs were tested with the Tyan B8026T70AE24HR 2U platform.

- EPYC 7351P that is 16 cores / 32 threads.

- EPYC 7401P that is 24 cores / 48 threads.

- EPYC 7601 that is the current highest-end EPYC CPU at 32 cores / 64 threads.

Each of the systems were tested with their latest publicly available BIOS for the latest security measures, etc. The Debian testing with Linux 4.17 configuration was tested out-of-the-box.

A variety of CPU focused Linux benchmarks were run via the Phoronix Test Suite across the range of hardware tested. Following the raw performance results are also performance-per-dollar metrics based upon current CPU retail prices. Due to differing GPU/RAM/motherboards and because of only having remote access to the Talos systems, there isn't any automated performance-per-Watt / power consumption metrics that we normally carry out for our Linux CPU reviews.

Thanks to Raptor Computing Systems for providing remote access to these three Talos II configurations for benchmarking today.

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