Testing Notes

For the EPYC launch, AMD sent us their best SKU: the EPYC 7601. Meanwhile Intel gave us a choice between the top bin Xeon 8180 and the Xeon 8176. Considering that the latter had 165-173W TDP, similar to AMD's best EPYC, we felt that the Xeon 8176 was the best choice. 

Unfortunately, our time testing the two platforms has been limited. In particular, we only received AMD's EPYC system last week, and the company did not put an embargo on the results. This means that we can release the data now, in time to compare it to the new Skylake-SP Xeons, however it also means that we've only had a handful of days to work with the platform before writing all of this up for today's embargo. We're confident in the data, but it means that we haven't had a chance to tease out the nuances of EPYC quite yet, and that will have to be something we get to in a future article.

Meanwhile we should note that we've had to retire the bulk of our historical benchmark data, as we upgraded both our compiler and OS (see below). Due to this, we only had a very limited amount of time to run additional systems, and for that reason we've opted include Intel's Xeon E5-2690. The Sandy Bridge-EP processor is about 5 years old, and for customers who aren't upgrading their servers every single generation, it's these servers that we believe are most likely to get upgraded in this round. So for server managers looking at finally buying into new hardware, you can get an idea of much return of investment you get. 

Benchmark Configuration and Methodology

All of our testing was conducted on Ubuntu Server "Xenial" 16.04.2 LTS (Linux kernel  4.4.0 64 bit). The compiler that ships with this distribution is GCC 5.4.0. 

You will notice that the DRAM capacity varies among our server configurations. The reason is that we had little time left before today's launch embargo. Removing any hardware is always a risk, so we decided to run our tests without significantly changing the internal hardware of the systems we received from AMD and Intel (SSDs were still replaced). As far as we know, all of our tests fit in 128 GB, so DRAM capacity should not have much influence on performance. But it wil have a impact on total energy consumption, which we will discuss. 

Last but not least, we want to note how the performance graphs have been color-coded. Orange is AMD's EPYC, dark blue is Intel's best (Skylake-SP), and light blue is the previous generation Xeons (Xeon E5-v4) . Gray has been used for the soon-to-be-replaced Xeon v1. 

Intel's Xeon "Purley" Server – S2P2SY3Q (2U Chassis)

CPU Two Intel Xeon Platinum 8176  (2.1 GHz, 28c, 38.5MB L3, 165W)
RAM 384 GB (12x32 GB) Hynix DDR4-2666
Internal Disks SAMSUNG MZ7LM240 (bootdisk)
Intel SSD3710 800 GB (data)
Motherboard Intel S2600WF (Wolf Pass baseboard)
Chipset Intel Wellsburg B0
BIOS version 9/02/2017
PSU 1100W PSU (80+ Platinum)

The typical BIOS settings can be seen below; we enabled hyperthreading and Intel virtualization. 

AMD EPYC 7601 –  (2U Chassis)

Five years after our "Piledriver review", a new AMD server arrives in the Sizing Servers Lab

CPU Two EPYC 7601  (2.2 GHz, 32c, 8x8MB L3, 180W)
RAM 512 GB (16x32 GB) Samsung DDR4-2666 @2400
Internal Disks SAMSUNG MZ7LM240 (bootdisk)
Intel SSD3710 800 GB (data)
Motherboard AMD Speedway
BIOS version To check. 
PSU 1100W PSU (80+ Platinum)


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

CPU Two Intel Xeon processor E5-2699v4 (2.2 GHz, 22c, 55MB L3, 145W)
Two Intel Xeon processor E5-2690v3 (2.3 GHz, 14c, 35MB L3, 120W)
RAM 256 GB (16x16GB) Kingston DDR-2400
Internal Disks SAMSUNG MZ7LM240 (bootdisk)
Intel SSD3700 800 GB (data)
Motherboard Intel Server Board Wildcat Pass
BIOS version 1/28/2016
PSU Delta Electronics 750W DPS-750XB A (80+ Platinum)

The typical BIOS settings can be seen below. 

HP-G8 (2U Chassis) - Xeon E5-2690

CPU Two Intel Xeon processor E5-2690 (2.9GHz, 8c, 20MB L3, 135W)
RAM 512 GB (16x32GB) Samsung DDR-3 LR-DIMM 1866 MHz @ 1333 MHz
Internal Disks SAMSUNG MZ7LM240 (bootdisk)
Intel SSD3700 800 GB (data)
Motherboard HP G8
BIOS version 9/23/2016
PSU HP 750W (Gold)


Other Notes

Both 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.

Pricing Comparison: AMD versus Intel Memory Subsystem: Bandwidth


View All Comments

  • tamalero - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    How is that different if AMD ran stuff that is extremely optimized for them? Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    That's kinda the point? You want to benchmark the CPUs in optimal scenarios, since that's what you'd be looking at in practice. If one CPU's weakness is eliminated by using a more recent/tweaked compiler, then it's not a weakness. Reply
  • coder543 - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    Rather, you want to test under practical scenarios. Very few people are going to be running 17.04 on production grade servers, they will run an LTS release, which in this case is 16.04.

    It would be good to have benchmarks from 17.04 as another point of comparison, but given how many things they didn't have time to do just using 16.04, I can understand why they didn't use 17.04.
  • Santoval - Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - link

    A compromise can be found by upgrading Ubuntu 16.04's outdated kernel. Ubuntu LTS releases include support for rolling HWE Stacks, which is a simple meta package for installing newer kernels compiled, modified, tested and packaged by the Ubuntu Kernel Team, and installed directly from the official Ubuntu repositories (not via a Launchpad PPA). With HWE 16.04 LTS can install up to the kernel of 18.04 LTS.

    I also use 16.04 LTS + HWE (it just requires installing the linux-generic-hwe-16.04 package), which currently provides the 4.8 kernel. There is even a "beta" version of HWE (the same package plus an -edge at the end) for installing the 4.10 kernel (aka the kernel of 17.04) earlier, which will normally be released next month.

    I just spotted various 4.10 kernel listings after checking in Synaptic, so they must have been added very recently. After that there are two more scheduled kernel upgrades, as is shown in the following link. Of course HWE upgrades solely the kernel, it does not upgrade any application or any of the user level parts to a more recent version of Ubuntu.
  • CajunArson - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    Considering the similarities between RyZen and Haswell (that aren't coincidental at all) you are already seeing a highly optimized set of RyZen results.

    But I have no problem seeing RyZen be tested with the newest distros, the only difference being that even Ubuntu 16.04 already has most of the optimizations for RyZen baked in.
  • coder543 - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    What similarities? They're extremely different architectures. I can't think of any obvious similarities. Between the CCX model, caches being totally different layouts, the infinity fabric, Intel having better AVX-256/512 stuff (IIRC), etc.

    I don't think 16.04 is naturally any more optimized for Ryzen than it is for Skylake-SP.
  • CajunArson - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    Oh please, at the core level RyZen is a blatant copy-n-paste of Haswell with the only exception being they just omitted half the AVX hardware to make their lives easier.

    It's so obvious that if you followed any of the developer threads for people optimizing for RyZen they say to just use the Haswell compiler optimizations that actually work better than the official RyZen optimization flags.
  • ddriver - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    Can't tell if this post is funny or sad. Reply
  • CajunArson - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    It's neither: It's accurate.

    Don't believe me? Look at the differences in performance of the holy 1800X over multiple Linux distros ranging from pretty new (OpenSuse Tumbleweed) to pretty old (Fedora 23 from 2015): http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&...

    Nowhere near the variation that we see with Skylake X since Haswell was already a solved problem long before RyZen lauched.
  • coder543 - Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - link

    Right, of course. Ryzen is a copy-and-paste of Haswell.

    Don't make me laugh.

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