DragonFlyBSD Now Runs On The Threadripper 2990WX, Developer Shocked At Performance
Written by Michael Larabel in BSD on 21 August 2018 at 01:51 PM EDT. 9 Comments
BSD --
Last week I carried out some tests of BSD vs. Linux on the new 32-core / 64-thread Threadripper 2990WX. I tested FreeBSD 11, FreeBSD 12, and TrueOS -- those benchmarks will be published in the next few days. I tried DragonFlyBSD, but at the time it wouldn't boot with this AMD HEDT processor. But now the latest DragonFlyBSD development kernel can handle the 2990WX and the lead DragonFly developer calls this new processor "a real beast" and is stunned by its performance potential.

When I tried last week, the DragonFlyBSD 5.2.2 stable release nor DragonFlyBSD 5.3 daily snapshot would boot on the 2990WX. But it turns out Matthew Dillon, the lead developer of DragonFlyBSD, picked up a rig and has it running now. So in time for the next 5.4 stable release or those using the daily snapshots can have this 32-core / 64-thread Zen+ CPU running on this operating system long ago forked from FreeBSD.

In announcing his success in bringing up the 2990WX under DragonFlyBSD, which required a few minor changes, he shared his performance thoughts and hopes for the rig. "The cpu is a real beast, packing 32 cores and 64 threads. It blows away our dual-core Xeon to the tune of being +50% faster in concurrent compile tests, and it also blows away our older 4-socket Opteron (which we call 'Monster') by about the same margin. It's an impressive CPU. For now the new beast is going to be used to help us improve I/O performance through the filesystem, further SMP work (but DFly scales pretty well to 64 threads already), and perhaps some driver to work to support the 10gbe on the mobo."

Dillon shared some results on the system as well. " The Threadripper 2990WX is a beast. It is at *least* 50% faster than both the quad socket opteron and the dual socket Xeon system I tested against. The primary limitation for the 2990WX is likely its 4 channels of DDR4 memory, and like all Zen and Zen+ CPUs, memory performance matters more than CPU frequency (and costs almost no power to pump up the performance). That said, it still blow away a dual-socket Xeon with 3x the number of memory channels. That is impressive!"


The well known BSD developer also added, "This puts the 2990WX at par efficiency vs a dual-socket Xeon system, and better than the dual-socket Xeon with slower memory and a power cap. This is VERY impressive. I should note that the 2990WX is more specialized with its asymetric NUMA architecture and 32 cores. I think the sweet spot in terms of CPU pricing and efficiency is likely going to be with the 2950X (16-cores/32-threads). It is clear that the 2990WX (32-cores/64-threads) will max out 4-channel memory bandwidth for many workloads, making it a more specialized part. But still awesome...This thing is an incredible beast, I'm glad I got it."

While I have the FreeBSD vs. Linux benchmarks from a few days ago, it looks like now on my ever growing TODO list will be re-trying out the newest DragonFlyBSD daily snapshot for seeing how the performance compares in the mix. Stay tuned for the numbers that should be in the next day or two.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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