Benchmarking The First RISC-V Cloud Server: Scaleway EM-RV1 Performance

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 14 May 2024 at 12:23 PM EDT. Page 1 of 4. 20 Comments.

Scaleway by way of their Scaleway Labs group recently launched the Elastic Metal RV1 (EM-RV1) as the world's first RISC-V servers available in the cloud. These RISC-V cloud servers are built around the T-Head 1520 SoC and are an interesting way to explore the RISC-V architecture and/or otherwise make use of RISC-V for CI/CD deployments or other testing purposes. In this article are some benchmarks showing the RISC-V EM-RV1 performance against Intel and AMD x86_64 Linux.

Scaleway EM-RV1 page

Before getting too excited over RISC-V cloud servers, it's important to first take note of the specs: the T-Head 1520 SoC used provides 4 RISC-V 64-bit cores at 1.85GHz. This is just a basic quad-core RISC-V entry level server plus the storage provided is just 128GB of eMMC storage along with 100 Mbit/s Ethernet. This is sufficient for "kicking the tires" of RISC-V in the cloud and doing any basic build testing or similar RISC-V CI/CD exposure but this isn't some high performance server. The four C920 RISC-V cores and 128GB of eMMC storage is paired with 16GB of system memory to provide for a healthy 4GB of RAM per core.

Scaleway EM-RV1 RISC-V /proc/cpuinfo

Scaleway Labs on the Elastic Metal RV1 page notes that the EM-RV1 servers are very power efficient at 0.96~1.9W per core at the 1.8GHz clock frequency. In addition to being very power efficient, they are very dense with Scaleway packing 672 servers into a single 52U rack.

Scaleway EM-RV1 instance

Thanks in part to the energy efficiency and allowing very dense deployments, the EM-RV1 access is very cheap: €0.042/Hour(s) (just $0.045 USD) at a hourly rate or €15.99 per month ($17.31 monthly). The very affordable pricing helps to make up for the low RISC-V specs/performance out of this first RISC-V cloud server.

For this testing Ubuntu 24.04 LTS on RISC-V was used along with Ubuntu 24.04 on the AMD and Intel instances tested.

Scaleway RISC-V

To get an idea for the EM-RV1 RISC-V performance I ran some benchmarks on it compared to the EM-A210R-HDD and EM-A315X-SSD Elastic Metal instances also available in the Scaleway cloud. The EM-A210R-HDD provides an AMD Ryzen PRO 3600 (6 core / 12 thread) processor, 16GB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, and HDD storage while costing €0.122 ($0.13) per hour. The EM-A315X-SSD instance provides a 4-core / 8-thread Intel Xeon E5 1410 v2 processor with 64GB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, and SSD storage for €0.153 ($0.17) per hour. Keep in mind these aren't even current-generation Intel and AMD processors but rather Zen 2 and Ivy Bridge era hardware... All of these Scaleway instances were benchmarked on Ubuntu 24.04 LTS in the default configuration.

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