A Look At The Open-Source Talos II POWER9 Performance Against x86_64 Server CPUs

Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 27 November 2018. Page 1 of 8. 33 Comments

In the benchmarks earlier this month looking at the Talos II POWER9 dual 22-core performance its performance was compared to various AMD Threadripper and Intel Core i9 CPUs. They were used as comparison points since all of those CPUs sport four memory channels, including the Sforza POWER9 CPUs, while IBM caters the larger LaGrange/Monza POWER9 modules with eight memory channels as competition to Xeon and EPYC. But for those wondering how the POWER9 Sforza performance compares to Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC processors, here are some benchmarks.

With Raptor Computing Systems having kindly sent over this Talos II Secure Workstation a few weeks ago, it's been a delight testing this box that is fully open-source down to the motherboard firmware and BMC. More background information on the Talos II can be seen in the earlier article.

Pricing on the Talos II motherboard is $2499 USD and the 22-core POWER9 CPUs cost $2625 a piece, which does make it more expensive than all but one (the dual EPYC 7601) of the Intel/AMD server configurations tested in this article. I tested the available Intel Xeon Scalable platforms I had, which were the Xeon Silver 4108 and Xeon Gold 6138 with the Tyan GT24E-B7106. With the TYAN Transport SX TN70A-B8026 I tested the available EPYC CPUs of the 7251, 7351P, 7401P, 7551, and 7601 SKUs. There was also the Dell PowerEdge R7425 with dual EPYC 7601 CPUs.

The EPYC 7601 CPU carries a retail price of around $4,379 USD while the dual 22-core POWER9 CPUs come in at over $5,200 plus the $2k+ motherboard, but with SMT4 that configuration yields 176 threads. The Xeon Gold 6138 processors are of similar price to the POWER9 22-core CPUs at about $2679 USD. Granted, of the systems tested, only the Talos II was open-source down to the motherboard firmware and BMC.

Ubuntu 18.10 was running on all of these systems with the Linux 4.19.1 kernel and GCC 8.2 code compiler for these basic reference benchmarks between POWER9 and Xeon/EPYC.

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