The ThunderX2 SKUs: 16 to 32 Cores

The SKU inside our test system was the ThunderX2 CN9980 2.2. This is the top SKU that is available right now, offering 32 cores at 2.2 GHz, which are able to further boost to 2.5 GHz.

According to Cavium's plans, many more SKUs will be available in the coming months. Cavium claims that a CN9980 at 2.5 GHz will be available soon, which would be capable of boosting to 3 GHz.

Cavium has listed all of their planned SKUs together alongside the comparable Intel SKU. By Cavium's definition, a comparable Intel SKU is a chip that achieves the same SPECInRate (2017) under gcc as Cavium's SKU.

As you can see, Cavium considers our CN9880 2.2 to be comparable to the much more expensive 8164. For our testing we will compare it to the 8176, as that was the Intel SKU available to us. Not that it should matter much: the 8176 only has a 3% higher clockspeed and 2 additional cores (+7%) over the 8164. Note however that if Cavium's ThunderX2 can really compete with these Intel SKUs, they are offering the same performance at one third of the cost of the Intel SKUs.

Cavium's "New" Core: Vulcan Benchmark Configuration & Energy Consumption
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  • Eris_Floralia - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    The L2$ for SKX should be 1MB (256+768KiB), 16-way. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    Right you are. Thanks! Reply
  • danjme - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    Mental. Reply
  • Duncan Macdonald - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    The CPU may be much cheaper than the equivalent Intel CPU - however on the price of a complete server there would be almost no difference as the vast majority of the price of a server is in other items (RAM, storage, network, software etc). To take a significant share, the performance needs to be better than Intel CPUs on both a per thread and a per socket basis. Potential users will look at this CPU - see that it is not faster than Intel on a per thread basis and is also not X86-64 compatible and turn away with a shrug. A price difference of under 5% for a complete server is not enough to justify the risks of going from x86-64 to ARM. Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Thursday, May 24, 2018 - link

    Perhaps you are correct and the lack of per thread performance will not allow Cavium to take a "significant' share of the market from Intel. However, at this point, getting even a small amount of market penetration in the server market is a significant achievement for an ARM vendor. This processor doesn't need to take a "significant" share from Intel to be successful. It just needs to establish a solid foothold. Given the data, I think it has a good chance of succeeding in that.

    The bigger question in my mind is how Intel will respond. They already have the ability to make a many lite core accelerator as demonstrated by the Xeon Phi line. Will they bring this tech to their CPU lineup, create a new accelerator based on this tech to handle applications that use many light threads, create a new many small core CPU based on Goldmont Plus (or Tremont), or will they consider the ARM threat insignificant enough to ignore.
    Reply
  • boeush - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    "(*) EPYC and Xeon E5 V4 are older results, run on Kernel 4.8 and a slightly older Java 1.8.0_131 instead of 1.8.0_161. Though we expect that the results would be very similar on kernel 4.13 and Java 1.8.0_161"

    What about Spectre/Meltdown mitigation patches? Were they in effect for 'older' results?
    Reply
  • boeush - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    To elaborate: if those numbers really are from July 2017, then they don't reflect true performance in a server context any longer (servers are where Spectre/Meltdown patches would be applied most.). Since the performance impact of Spectre/Meltdown is greatest on speculative execution and memory loads/prefetching, I'd guess those super-aggressive memory subsystem performance numbers, as well as single thread IPC advantages that Intel's CPUs claim in your benchmarks, are not really entirely applicable any longer. Reply
  • HStewart - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    Spectre has been proved to effect other CPU's than Intel and even effects ARM and AMD.,

    Image on this article states that this CPU supports Fully Out of Order execution. So with my understanding of Spectre that this CPU also has issues.

    To be honest I not sure how much the whole Spectre/Meltdown stuff is in this real world. It probably cause more harm in the computer industry than help.
    Reply
  • Manch - Thursday, May 24, 2018 - link

    Commentor: Blah Blah Blah Spectre?
    HStewart: Shill Shill Shill must defend Intel by any means...
    Reply
  • lmcd - Thursday, May 24, 2018 - link

    Commentor: reasonable position taken
    Manch: *banned for unreasonable, offensive comments*
    Reply

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