AMD EPYC On Ubuntu 18.10 Putting Up A Stronger Fight Against Xeon Gold

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 25 September 2018. Page 1 of 5. 17 Comments

With hitting the home stretch to Ubuntu 18.10, I've started with my usual benchmark process for checking out this next Ubuntu Linux release dubbed the Cosmic Cuttlefish. Yesterday were Ubuntu 18.10 benchmarks on seven desktop systems from Intel and AMD while next on my agenda has been checking out the server performance. Here's the first of those server tests on Ubuntu 18.10 with some initial AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon Gold tests.

While many enterprises don't end up relying upon non-LTS Ubuntu releases in production, the post-LTS releases tend to be exciting for benchmarking on the technology front thanks to the more liberal changes accepted in the cycle. With Ubuntu 18.10 there is notably the upgrade from GCC 7 to GCC 8 for the compiler toolchain, shipping with the latest Linux 4.18 stable kernel, and a wealth of other package upgrades.

Many of these upgrades end up benefiting AMD EPYC, especially the newer GCC8 toolchain that had various "znver1" target improvements merged its cycle, compared to the Xeon Scalable CPUs that have already been stable for a while on Linux having built off the mature Skylake microarchitecture. Also making the benchmarks on the latest kernel interesting is given the seemingly constant churn this year of Spectre/Meltdown mitigations and those kernel changes continuing to be tweaked almost each cycle as well as some new vulnerabilities closed up as they come about.

For this initial benchmarking are Ubuntu 18.10 benchmarks as of the current frozen beta state on the two highest-end Intel/AMD servers currently within my possession and fairly close at least in terms of core/thread counts... On the Intel side is the Tyan S7106 board in one of their 1U barebones servers while having two Intel Xeon Gold 6138 processors to yield a combined total of 40 cores / 80 threads. These CPUs have a 2.00GHz base frequency with 3.70GHz turbo.

On the AMD side was the TYAN B8026T70AE24HR 2U server setup with the top-end EPYC 7601 processor that is 32 cores / 64 threads with 2.2GHz base clock, 2.7GHz all-core boost clock, and 3.2GHz max boost clock. Both of these Tyan server platforms have worked out excellent in the better part of the past year that I've been thoroughly testing them at Phoronix -- as are their other motherboards we've tested at Phoronix for over a decade.

On both servers a Samsung 970 EVO 256GB NVMe SSD was used as the storage device while running Ubuntu 18.10 x86_64 with the Linux 4.18.0-7-generic kernel, GCC 8.2.0, Python 2.7.14, Python 3.6.6, and other stock Ubuntu Cosmic software components. Each server had enough DIMMs to utilize all available memory channels.

All of these initial Ubuntu 18.10 server benchmarks were carried out using the Phoronix Test Suite. Tests on my other available server CPUs and comparing Ubuntu 18.10 to other Linux distributions / operating systems (such as Windows Server 2019) will be coming up soon on Phoronix.

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