Raptor Talos II POWER9 Benchmarks Against AMD Threadripper & Intel Core i9
Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 8 November 2018. Page 1 of 6. 53 Comments

For those curious about the performance of IBM's POWER9 processors against the likes of today's AMD Threadripper and Intel Core i9 HEDT processors, here are some interesting benchmarks as we begin looking closer at the POWER9 performance on the fully open-source Raptor Talos II Secure Workstation. This open-source, secure system arrived for Linux testing with dual 22-core POWER9 CPUs to yield 176 total threads of power.

As mentioned a few days ago in the aforelinked article, Raptor Computing Systems recent sent over a Talos II system for benchmarking to deliver more frequent benchmarks from this high-end workstation/server that's fully open-source down to the motherboard firmware and BMC stack. We previously have carried out some remote benchmarks of the Talos II, but now having it in our labs allows us to more frequently conduct tests as well as swapping out the hardware, matching other test systems, and also other tests like performance-per-Watt comparisons that were not possible with the remote testing.

Besides being fully open-source, the Talos II is also manufactured in the US with the IBM POWER9 processors being fabbed in New York while the Raptor motherboard is manufactured in Texas along with where their systems are assembled. The Talos II motherboard features five PCI Express 4.0 slots for next-gen connectivity, dual Gigabit Ethernet, and can accommodate two POWER9 "Sforza" CPUs that support four memory channels per socket.

The POWER9 Sforza-based Talos II was being compared to AMD Threadripper and Intel Core i9 for this initial article given these CPUs all supporting four DDR4 memory channels. Some Talos II comparisons to AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon hardware will be coming up soon on Phoronix for reference. It's the larger LaGrange/Monza POWER9 modules that support eight memory channels that are more akin to the Xeon/EPYC competition.

As for the attention to detail with Talos II being an open-source product, included with the system is a DVD containing the system schematics as well as the firmware source code. That DVD copy is the exact source used to build the pre-loaded firmware though also available via git.raptorcs.com is all of the platform firmware code, CPU firmware, BMC firmware, host firmware, OpenBMC code, and OpenPOWER bits.

Pricing on POWER hardware remains a bit high depending upon your budget: pricing on the motherboard itself is $2,499.00 or $1,129.99 for the Lite version that is single-socket only. Pricing on the IBM POWER9 CPUs starts at $375 USD for the quad-core or $2625 USD for the 22-core processor. Pricing is certainly higher than Threadripper / Core i9 but the system is fully open-source and audit-able for security and in the case of this dual 22-core setup offers 176 threads thanks to 4-way SMT.

For those looking to find a high-performance POWER9 libre system on a budget, Raptor Computing Systems has been working on Blackbird with more information on that lower-cost board due out soon.

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