For $3100 USD You Can Have A Fast, Fully-Free-Software Workstation
Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 6 February 2016. Page 2 of 4. 35 Comments

Raptor Engineering kindly provided Phoronix with access to a Talos Secure Workstation development setup over the weekend for testing. Besides being a fully-free system, I was excited to test it out for being a high-performance POWER8 system as well with the only time previously having access to POWER8 hardware for benchmarking was via RunAbove's POWER Cloud.

The system was loaded with Debian GNU/Linux 8.3 and utilizing the Linux 3.16 kernel with the GCC 4.9.2 compiler. Raptor Engineering was quick to point out though that with Debian Stretch there should be better POWER8 (PPC64EL) performance moving ahead. Also, libm currently doesn't have good (optimized) support for POWER8 so many of the routines affecting floating-point performance are unoptimized on that front. Hopefully these will be improved upon by the OpenPOWER Foundation or by others in time for when the Talos Secure Workstation ships.

For setting the basic performance comparison against the Talos Secure Workstation, I compared the benchmark results of this system to a few dozen other AMD/Intel x86 Linux systems in my benchmarking lab. There are some obvious software/architecture differences between the systems, but should be good enough for getting a rough idea about the performance of this POWER8 system.

With the benchmarking having been done via the Phoronix Test Suite and results uploaded to OpenBenchmarking.org, you can easily see how your own system would compare as well to this $3100 box. Those details for running your own side-by-side performance comparison can be found at the end of this article.

With the graphics still being up in the air, there were no Radeon R9 290X graphics benchmarks done from this POWER8 system. Additionally, no disk tests were shown since the I/O side of the workstation is also still being figured out. The test set was also limited due to only having remote access to the system with limited time available. On the following pages are the results from this early Talos Secure Workstation running Debian 8.3 compared to various other AMD/Intel systems at Phoronix.


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