Ampere Altra Performance Shows It Can Compete With - Or Even Outperform - AMD EPYC & Intel Xeon
Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 15 December 2020. Page 1 of 6. 170 Comments

While the talk in recent weeks has been about the performance of Apple's M1 ARM chip and then rumors there might be a 32 core chip in the pipe, there is already something much stronger: Ampere Altra has begun shipping and its flagship 80-core SoC with up to two sockets per server can easily take on the AMD EPYC 7742 "Rome" and Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 "Cascade Lake" performance across a variety of workloads. Here is our initial look at the Ampere Altra performance on Linux in our independent performance benchmarks.

Ampere Altra's (Quicksilver) cores are based on Arm's Neoverse N1 with modifications and fabricated on TSMC's N7 process. Also significant with Ampere Altra is eight channels of DDR4-3200 memory support and capable of addressing 4TB of memory per socket.

On the connectivity front, Ampere Altra supports 128 PCI Express Gen4 lanes for 1P configurations and 192 PCIe 4.0 lanes for 2P configurations. Ampere Altra can also support up to four CCIX accelerators.

The Ampere Altra SKU we have been testing is the Q80-33 that offers 80 cores with a 3.3GHz max clock frequency and is rated for a 250 Watt TDP. The dual Ampere Altra Q80-33 testing has been happening within their 2P platform, Mt Jade.

Testing of the Ampere Altra Q80-33 2P in Mount Jade over the past month has been going very smooth. Mount Jade has booted fine with Arm ServerReady Linux distributions with the likes of CentOS 8, Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS, and Ubuntu 20.10 in AArch64 flavors booting without any issues on Mount Jade and smooth sailing. Other Linux distributions such as Oracle Linux are also optimized to run on Ampere Altra. It's much better off than the state of easily booting Linux distributions on ARM back during the days of Calxeda and other early ARM server efforts or even many ARM SBCs today.


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