EPYC vs. Xeon Gold In Nearly 200 Tests With Ubuntu On Linux 4.15
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 12 February 2018 at 08:58 AM EST. 1 Comment
Coming later today is a large Intel/AMD CPU comparison using the latest Linux 4.15 stable kernel that is mitigated for Spectre and Meltdown and using around two dozen tests. For the high-end Xeon Gold and EPYC servers, I ran close to 200 tests on those platforms.

A few days back was the Core i9 vs. Threadripper tests with a similar quantity of Linux benchmarks being run while this morning are the numbers for the dual Xeon Gold 6138 CPUs versus the EPYC 7601, AMD's current top-end Zen server processor. These are the two highest-end server configurations I have available for testing at the moment. With the dual Xeon Gold 6138 CPUs it's a 40 core / 80 thread total while the single EPYC 7601 is 32 core / 64 thread, as a reminder.

The EPYC 7601 is currently retailing for about $4,500 USD while a single Xeon Gold 6138 is $2,700~2,900, as an additional point to keep in mind.

Both systems were making use of all available memory channels and were tested when using Ubuntu 17.10 with its GCC 7.2 system compiler. The Linux 4.15.2 stable kernel was at play. Linux 4.15.2 has KPTI page table isolation for Meltdown and __user pointer sanitization and full generic Retpoline for Spectre mitigation. The AMD security features needed are just __user pointer santization and then the full AMD Retpoline implementation for Spectre Variant Two.

Here's a look at the massive set of benchmarks run on competing platforms.

Obviously where the workloads are single-threaded, the dual Xeon Gold platform comes out ahead due to the greater instructions per clock than the first-generation Zen EPYC CPUs. Or in workloads that are highly-threaded where the 40 core / 80 thread does better than the lone EPYC 7601 with 32 cores / 64 threads. But in a number of benchmarks, the EPYC 7601 that is also significantly cheaper comes out ahead:

The EPYC 7601 tends to lead in the memory tests due to its eight memory channels.

In a number of the scientific workloads, the EPYC 7601 was beating the more expensive and higher core/thread count dual Xeon Gold 6138 configuration.

The EPYC 7601 also came out ahead in ebizzy, the benchmark resembling web server workload performance.

Redis is one of the real-world workloads greatly affected by the KPTI/Retpoline patches but on Linux 4.15 the results were still a toss-up between these AMD and Intel server processors.

Dig through the dozens of benchmark results for these two high-end Linux servers via this OpenBenchmarking.org result file.
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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 20,000 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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