Benchmark Selection

Our testing was conducted on Ubuntu Server 15.10 (kernel 4.2.0) with gcc compiler version 5.2.1.

The choice of comparing the IBM POWER8 2.92 10-core with the Xeon E5-2699 v4 22-core might seem weird, as the latter is three-times as expensive as the former. However, for this review, where we evaluate single thread/core performance, pricing does not matter. As this is one of the lowest clocked POWER8 CPUs, an Intel Xeon with a high base clock - something that's common for Intel's chips with fewer cores - would make it harder to compare the two microarchitectures. We also wanted an Intel chip that could reach high turbo clockspeeds thanks to a high TDP.

And last but not least we did not have very many Xeon E5 v4 SKUs in the lab...

Configuration


IBM S812LC (2U)

The IBM S812LC is based up on Tyan's "Habanero" platform. The board inside the IBM server is thus designed by Tyan.

CPU One IBM POWER8 2.92 GHz (up to 3.5 GHz Turbo)
RAM 256 GB (16x16GB) DDR3-1333
Internal Disks 2x Samsung 850Pro 960 GB
Motherboard Tyan SP012
PSU Delta Electronics DSP-1200AB 1200W


Intel's Xeon E5 Server – S2600WT (2U Chassis)

This is the same server that we used in our latest Xeon v4 review.

CPU

Xeon E5-2699 v4
Xeon E5-2640 v4 (2.4 GHz, 10 cores, 90 W TDP)

RAM 256 GB (8x32GB) Samsung DDR4-2400
Internal Disks 2x Samsung 850Pro 960 GB
Motherboard Intel Server Board Wildcat Pass
PSU Delta Electronics 750W DPS-750XB A (80+ Platinum)

Hyperthreading, Turbo, C1 and C6 were enabled in the BIOS.

Other Notes

All servers are fed by a standard European 230V (16 Amps max.) power line. The room temperature is monitored and kept at 23°C by our Airwell CRACs in our Sizing Servers Lab.

System Specs Memory Subsystem: Bandwidth
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  • DomOfSF - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    Johan de Gelas: blowing minds and educating "the rest of us" since...I dunno, a really long time ago (especially in internet years). Great job on the data, but the real good stuff is in your thoughts and analysis. Thank you! Reply
  • close - Saturday, July 23, 2016 - link

    Over a decade... Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - link

    13 years in the server business, 18 years now of reviewing hardware :-). Thx !! Reply
  • jamyryals - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    It seems to me, Intel's focus on bringing their CPU architecture design all the way down to 5W is the reason IBM is able to stand out against them. Intel is focused on creating a scalable architecture while IBM can throw the whole kitchen sink at the server market.

    Fascinating article, I really enjoyed it.
    Reply
  • smilingcrow - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    Intel has plenty of unique features in their server platforms which aren't in the consumer platforms so I don't think that is the issue. Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - link

    The basic design of the core still is the same so there is probably at least some truth in the statement of Jamy. Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - link

    Up until this point. Consumer SkyLake and server SkyLake are going to be two different designs. They're certainly related but server SkyLake will have 512 KB of L2 cache per core and support AVX-512 instructions.

    Server SkyLake is also going to support 3D Xpoint DIMMs, though that difference is more with the platform/chipset than the actual CPU core.
    Reply
  • floobit - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    Very interesting. It seems odd to me that they chose to configure it in a 2U - except for big data clusters, most of the market space I see this playing is dominated by FC to a SAN. Is this a play in the big data cluster space, or the more traditional AIX/DB2/big iron that IBM has owned for so long?
    Some questions I'd have:
    what virtualization is possible with this architecture? presumably just the standard PowerVM? How well does that work?
    What is the impact of IO latency? Could you throw a P3700 or two in here?
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    2U: Besides big data storage needs, I suspect 2U is necessary for adequate cooling for the POWER8 chip.

    Virtualization: Linux KVM works well as far as I know.

    We actually tried out a P3700 in there (see: http://www.anandtech.com/show/9567/the-power-8-rev... ) and it worked very well. I asked IBM what a customer should expect when using third party storage (probably no support, but how about waranty?) but no answer yet.
    Reply
  • mystic-pokemon - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Hi Johan
    2U is not necessary for cooling a POWER 8 Chip. We do that better with our Barreleye (1.25 OU design). Even storage wise Barreleye has 15 Disk storage bay that can be seen in below links.

    http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2453992/google-and-...

    Let me know if you wanna ever benchmark a Barreleye. What specific POWER8 proc are you benchmarking with ? (Turismo?). I believe it does slightly better than S812LC on many benchmarks based on the variant of power8 proc S812LC runs.
    Reply

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