Database Performance & Variability

Results are very different with respect to transactional database benchmarks (HammerDB & OLTP). Intel's 8160 has an advantage of 22 to 29%, which is very similar to what we saw in our own independent benchmarking.

One of the main reasons is data locality: data is distributed over the many NUMA nodes causing extra latency for data access. Especially when data is locked, this can cause performance degradation.

Intel measured this with their own Memory Latency Checker (version 3.4), but you do not have rely on Intel alone. AMD reported similar results on the Linley Processor conference, and we saw similar results too.

There is more: Intel's engineers noticed quite a bit of performance variation between different runs.

Intel engineers claim that what they reported in the first graph on this page is, in fact, the best of 10 runs. Between the 10 runs, it is claimed there was a lot of variability: ignoring the outlier number 2, there are several occasions where performance was around 60% of the best reported value. Although we can not confirm that the performance of the EPYC system varies precisely that much, we have definitely seen more variation in our EPYC benchmarks than on a comparable Intel system.

Enterprise & Cloud Benchmarks HPC Benchmarks
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  • Ashari - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    LOL, "GloFo 16nm"... tsts, one would think people like Johan De Gelas and Ian Cutress would know which node is GloFo and which one is TSMC Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    That's my brain fart. I've been writing about other things recently. Edited. Reply
  • peevee - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    "The benchmarking scenario also has a big question mark, as in the footnotes to the slides Intel achieved this victory by placing 58 VMs on the Xeon 8160 setup versus 42 VMs on the EPYC 7601 setup."

    Given how well AMDs SMT scales, a real client can put up to 128 single-CPU VMs on the EPIC 7601, and 58 VMs on Xeon 8160 would be tramped ridiculously.
    Here Intel just had to rely on the shenanigans so obvious it is just fraud.
    Reply
  • LordOfTheBoired - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    Yeah, that really stuck out for me too. "We outperform AMD when running a different benchmark!"
    And to be frank, it casts a pall over Intel's entire PR release since it IS blatantly not how benchmarks work.
    Reply
  • Andresen - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    Many HPC task are memory bandwidth limited, and then AVX-512 is of little help. In Spec.org CFP2006 none of the recent results are using AVX-512 but instead rely on AVX2. The few tests posted using AVX-512 come out worse than the tests on similar systems using AVX2. For memory bandwidth limited tasks the EPYC has an advantage with its 8 memory channels compared to Intels 6 channels. For both architectures, a high end processor is not needed for bandwidth limited task, since the don't offer more memory channels. Reply
  • Johan Steyn - Monday, December 18, 2017 - link

    AVX also heats up the CPU a lot and it has to throttle down. With AVX, Intel cannot run high clock speesds. Reply
  • ddriver - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    Just when you think AT cannot possibly sink any lower, they now directly publish publish intel benchmarks of a competing product. Reply
  • Coldfriction - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    I myself was confused and dissapointed reading the summary where agreement with Intel seems to be presented by the authors. Using prases like "there is no denying that the Intel Xeon is a 'safer bet' for VMware virtualization" without testing it pushes AT into the realm of paid for shills. Independent reviews wouldn't trust anyone's marketing and even if they were to publish an article on benchmarks from a competitor, they would fill the thing with hefty amounts of skepticism until they could test it themselves. What Intel presents could very realistically be true (personally, I don't doubt that their benchmarks are within the ballpark of being legit), but I want my independent review sites to have as little bias as possible and that means objectively testing the hardware and ignoring the marketing. Reply
  • wumpus - Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - link

    These type of servers are rarely bought by customers for personal use. Instead, they are bought for a 'real job' where CYA decisions outweigh any performance benefits (to a degree, the end product has to work). If something really goes wrong, you can always expect to get the blame for buying the "off brand" instead of following the sheep, regardless of what really caused the failure (typically with highly annoyed management who can't tell *anything* about the server than it is the "off brand").

    If this isn't a consideration you have a "great job". Expect the owner to sell at some point or expand to the point it is controlled by MBAs and downgrade everybody's job to a "real job'. Sorry to say, but at least in the USA that is life.
    Reply
  • Johan Steyn - Monday, December 18, 2017 - link

    People sometimes really surprise me. What support doe you want from AMD? Yes if there is a booboo like Intel has (present tense) with its security flaw, you need support from them. I have sold numerous systems and servers in my life and never did I go to AMD or Intel to ask for support. It either the OEM, component supplier or component manufacturer (like motherboards etc) who you go to for support.

    If the CPU works as it should, you do not need support. CPU's were in my experience the one component that rarely if ever dies on you. So if you trust Tyan to make good products, which they do, they are the ones to give you support, not AMD. AMD has to help with Bioses etc. with which they are very good.

    So please stop with this support issue and safer bet. If the system runs unstable because of hardware issues, sure they have to sort it out, but till now, none has been reported.

    What has Intel done about the bug recently found? Did they come to you to fix it and support you? Nope, you have to fix it yourself, that is if the motherboard manufacturer has a bios update. So, for me it looks like AMD might just be the safer bet after all...
    Reply

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