Initial Benchmarks Of The AMD EPYC 7601 On Ubuntu Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 14 September 2017. Page 1 of 5. 41 Comments

Last week we received the AMD EPYC 7601 32 core / 64 thread processor for testing at Phoronix with the Tyan Transport SX TN70A-B8026 2U server. Since then I've had the pleasure of putting this Zen server processor through its paces. I am still early in the testing process with many more interesting benchmarks to come, but today are some initial numbers of the AMD EPYC 7601 compared to various Intel Xeon CPUs while running Ubuntu Linux.

The EPYC 7601 is AMD's current top-end server processor and features 32 cores yielding 64 threads. The base clock frequency on the EPYC 7601 is 2.2GHz with a 2.7GHz boost frequency for all the cores or up to 3.2GHz otherwise. Each core has a 512kB cache while there is 64MB of L3 cache. This EPYC 7601 processor costs $4200 USD and has a 180 Watt TDP. On the memory side there is support for eight memory channels at frequencies up to DDR4-2666. One of the many exciting aspects around EPYC is that each CPU supports 128 lanes of PCI Express 3.0.

Here is a look at the current AMD EPYC 7000 series line-up in full:

We hope to test a dual socket EPYC 7601 configuration soon and ideally some lower-end EPYC SKUs, but for now we just have the 7601 for Linux benchmarking at Phoronix.

The Tyan TN70A-B8026 used for testing supports one AMD EPYC CPU, offers 16 DIMMs, 24 hot-swap 2.5-inch NVMe drive bays, two rear 2.5-inch SATA drive bays, dual 770 Watt 80 Plus Platinum power supplies, the AST2500 for server management, and all fits within a 2U chassis.

The testing so far of this EPYC 7601 + Tyan Transport SX platform over the past week has been going very well so far. There are no real Linux troubles to note with EPYC or this Tyan motherboard, which is good given all server systems these days see their fair share of Linux usage. The only caveats to note with the Linux support for EPYC come down to the temperature support not yet being mainline in the Linux kernel, but is a shortcoming affecting Ryzen and the entire line-up of Zen processors. As of last week there is now a public patch for getting the CPU core temperature monitoring with the k10temp driver, but it doesn't look like it will be merged until Linux 4.15. But at least in the case of the well designed Tyan Transport server, the core temperatures shouldn't be much of a direct concern given the effective cooling and the available system temperature sensors working via hwmon and IPMI.

The only other caveat to mention is about one of EPYC's big new features: Secure Memory Encryption. There have been public patches for SME/SEV available for months now, but in terms of mainline support that's landing with Linux 4.14, which will be released as stable in about two months. It's in mainline as of last week with the ongoing 4.14 merge window, but just mentioning it for those looking forward to using it you will need to be on a 4.14+ kernel or see the SME/SEV support backported to your desired kernel release. I'll have more on the AMD EPYC Linux virtualization performance in an article of its own in the coming weeks.

For this initial benchmarking of the AMD EPYC 7601, its performance was compared to various Xeon systems in our lab. The primary comparison candidate is the Tyan GT24E-B7106 paired with two Xeon Gold 6138 processors. The Xeon Gold 6138 CPUs also support DDR4-2666 RDIMMs and each CPU socket has 20 cores / 40 threads, yielding a 40 core / 80 thread system to go up against this top-end AMD EPYC 7601 system at 32 cores / 64 threads. The Xeon Gold 6138 CPUs are clocked at 2.0GHz with a maximum turbo frequency of 3.7GHz, 27.5MB L3 cache, and each CPU package has a 125 Watt TDP. These CPUs retail for about $2600 USD, so two of them will cost you about $5200 versus the EPYC 7601 at around $4200. The Xeon Gold 6138 is currently our only Xeon Scalable setup for testing at Phoronix.

The other Xeon setups tested include the Xeon E3-1280 v5 (a low-end quad-core / eight thread Skylake server CPU with 3.7GHz base clock and 4.0GHz boost clock), Xeon E5-1680 v3 (a Haswell server CPU with eight cores / 16 threads and 3.2GHz base clock and 3.8GHz boost clock), and Xeon E5-2687W v3 (Haswell ten cores / 20 threads with 3.1GHz base clock, 3.5GHz turbo, 160 Watt TDP and originally retailed for around $2100).

For those curious how far EPYC has come since the Opteron days, I will be doing some raw performance comparison and performance-per-Watt metrics in a follow-up article in the days to come. Other upcoming AMD EPYC Linux tests include testing this system under various GCC and LLVM Clang compiler releases, some Linux distribution comparisons, seeing how well AMD EPYC does with the BSDs, virtualization benchmarks, seeing how well this system compares to various Amazon EC2 Cloud instances, and more power / performance-per-Watt testing. There will also likely be some Linux kernel comparisons on EPYC and other tests I am still considering; if you have any specific test requests for how you would like to see EPYC benchmarked, let me know via commenting in the forums or on Twitter / Facebook.

Thanks to AMD and Tyan for providing this EPYC server for Linux testing at Phoronix.

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