8-Way Linux Distribution Comparison On A Dual Xeon Scalable Gold Server
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 29 August 2017. Page 1 of 5. 32 Comments

While we routinely run various Linux distribution / operating system comparisons at Phoronix, they tend to be done on desktop class hardware and the occasional servers. This is our look at the most interesting enterprise-focused Linux distribution comparison to date as we see how Intel's Xeon Scalable platform compares on different GNU/Linux distributions when using the Tyan GT24E-B7106 paired with two Dual Xeon Gold 6138 processors. The tested configuration has 96GB of DDR4-2666 memory and 40 cores / 80 threads to see how different modern Linux distributions are affected with the latest-generation Xeon platform.

Tyan's Thunder CX GT24E-B7106 barebones server was tested in its configuration with four 3.2/2.5-inch SATA/SAS drive bays while for this comparison all tests were done from the Samsung 850 SSD (more Linux storage tests being dedicated to their own article) and this server is backed by dual 650W 80+ PSUs, dual LGA-3647 sockets for use with Xeon Scalable CPUs up to 165 Watt TDP per socket, 8+8 DIMM slots supporting DDR4 RDIMMs, two PCI Express x16 3.0 slots, and much more all housed within a 1U GT24E chassis. Thanks to Tyan for providing this barebones server for testing.

The GT24E-B7106 was tested in conjunction with 12 x 8GB Micron DDR4-2666 RDIMMs and the processors used were the Dual Xeon Gold 6138, which are 20 core parts with Hyper Threading to yield 40 threads per package and have a 2.00GHz base clock frequency and 3.70GHz turbo frequency.

Each Linux distribution was tested "out of the box" after performing a clean installation of each distribution on the same Samsung SSD. The out-of-the-box configuration was done for showing what's representative of each platform in the manner intended by the software vendor and for ensuring others will see when initially testing each OS as well as for allowing others to easily reproduce our results. The tested distributions included:

Antergos 17.8 - While Arch/Antergos is still making more inroads for servers/workstations, there are many Phoronix readers always curious about numbers on this side... Antergos currently has Linux 4.12 with GCC 7.1.1 atop EXT4.

Cent OS 7 - For some EL7 coverage we used CentOS 7 with its Linux 3.10 kernel, GCC 4.8.5 compiler, and XFS file-system.

Clear Linux - Intel's own Linux distribution, Clear Linux, which tends to always be optimized for delivering the greatest open-source performance possible on Intel hardware. Clear Linux 17210 has the Linux 4.12 kernel, GCC 7.2.0, and uses an EXT4 file-system.

Debian 9.1 - Debian Stretch has the Linux 4.9 kernel, GCC 6.3.0, and an EXT4 file-system.

Fedora 26 - If you are trying to get an idea where Red Hat's enterprise Linux performance is heading in the future, there is the latest Fedora release. Fedora 26 currently has the Linux 4.12 kernel and GCC 7.1.1 while using EXT4.

Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS - The latest Ubuntu Long Term Support release for servers with its hardware enablement stack has Linux 4.10 while using the older GCC 5.4 compiler and of course is still on EXT4.

openSUSE Leap 42.3 - For getting some numbers in line with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server given Leap is built from the same code-base... That means Linux 4.4, GCC 4.8.5, and XFS.

openSUSE Tumbleweed - The rolling-release version of openSUSE is onto using Linux 4.12, GCC 7.1.1, and XFS.

All eight of these tested Linux distributions had worked fine out-of-the-box with the Tyan GT24E-B7106 and did not run into any compatibility problems or anything along those lines.

That's the short summary of the default configuration of each Linux distribution tested. The details as well as their auto-detected hardware (always maintained the same throughout, just some slight reporting differences given each OS):

All of these Linux distribution tests from this Tyan 1U server backed by dual Xeon Gold CPUs and 96GB of RAM and Samsung storage were carried out in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software.

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