Fedora, Ubuntu, CentOS, openSUSE, Debian, Clear & Antergos Linux Benchmarks On AMD EPYC
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 4 October 2017. Page 1 of 5. 11 Comments

I've just wrapped up trying out nine different Linux distributions on AMD's EPYC in the form of the EPYC 7601 housed in the TYAN Transport SX TN70A-B8026. Like our initial testing with Ubuntu on EPYC, the other modern Linux distributions all played nicely with AMD's re-entry into the server market with their Zen-based offerings. But as with any new CPU platform, the out-of-the-box performance can vary greatly depending upon the Linux operating system being used. Here are benchmarks including Fedora, Ubuntu, CentOS, openSUSE, Debian, Clear Linux and Antergos.

The focus of this testing was ensuring these Linux distributions played nicely with the EPYC processor and the Tyan 2U server. To not much surprise considering AMD and TYAN do significant testing on Linux given the dominance of Linux on servers, all of the tested distributions played nicely with this platform. The only support caveats to really point out is that if you care about EPYC thermal monitoring under Linux, the k10temp patches to extend it for Zen CPU cores (including Ryzen/Threadripper/EPYC) isn't being merged until Linux 4.15 and no distribution has back-ported those patches to their kernel. Similarly, the Secure Memory Encryption (SME) functionality that's new to EPYC was only recently merged to mainline and will premiere with the Linux 4.14 kernel release a few weeks down the road. But aside from those caveats, almost any recent Linux distribution release should play nicely with the AMD EPYC platform and Tyan's current motherboard/barebones offerings.

The OS releases tested included the usual suspects:

CentOS 7 1708 - The recently released CentOS 7 1708 that's basically equivalent to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4. CentOS 7 has the Linux 3.10 kernel, GCC 4.8.5 compiler, and defaults to XFS.

Debian 9.1 - The current stable Debian 9 "Stretch" release with its Linux 4.9 kernel, GCC 6.3.0 code compiler, and EXT4 file-system.

Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS - The current Ubuntu Long-Term Support (LTS) release with Linux 4.10, GCC 5.4.0, and EXT4.

openSUSE Leap 42.3 - OpenSUSE Leap 42.3 that is built from the same sources as SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 3. With the SLES 12 SP3 base it means Linux 4.4, GCC 4.8.5, and XFS file-system.

And then some of the more peculiar ones considering the server-focused platform:

Antergos 17.9-Rolling - While I am not aware of too many companies using Arch Linux on enterprise servers, I decided to include the Arch-based Antergos given the community interest in the platform. Antergos 17.9-Rolling has the Linux 4.13 kernel, GCC 7.2.0, and EXT4.

Clear Linux 18060 - Clear Linux out of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center is obviously focused on Intel CPU support, but as we've shown, it does work on AMD CPUs. Even without the focus on AMD support, Clear Linux tends to be among the fastest Linux distributions tested regardless of CPU due to its aggressive compiler flags, various patches, making use of function multi-versioning and other technologies to deliver optimized binaries, etc. Clear Linux right now is using Linux 4.13, GCC 7.2.1, and EXT4.

Fedora Server 26 - For those wanting to see where things are going and what the performance might look like with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, Fedora Server 26 was tested with Linux 4.12, GCC 7.2.1, and XFS.

Ubuntu 17.10 20170927 - With being just six months out from the next Ubuntu LTS release, the daily snapshot of Ubuntu 17.10 was tested for offering a look at what the performance may look like for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on AMD EPYC. Ubuntu 17.10 is currently making use of Linux 4.13, GCC 7.2.0, and EXT4. This stack is fairly close to what will be found in the conservative Ubuntu 18.04 with it sticking to GCC 7, Linux 4.14~4.15 being the kernel version for that LTS release, etc.

openSUSE Tumbleweed 20170925 - For those interested in the rolling-release version of openSUSE and a future look at what SUSE Linux Enterprise will have in the future. OpenSUSE Tumbleweed right now uses Linux 4.13, GCC 7.2.1, and XFS+Btrfs.

The same system was used throughout all of these Linux distribution benchmarks with the AMD EPYC 7601 32 core / 64 thread processor, TYAN Transport SX TN70A-B8026 barebones server, 8 x 12GB DDR4-2666 memory, and Corsair Force MP500 120GB NVMe SSD. All of these out-of-the-box Linux distribution benchmarks were carried out using the Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software.

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