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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  • imaheadcase - Sunday, May 27, 2018 - link

    Yah i tried that for a bit, it worked ok. But was not foolproof, it missed some stuff. Reply
  • repoman27 - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    Just to provide a counter point, this article made my day. And that’s coming entirely from intellectual curiosity—I don’t plan on deploying any servers with these chips in the near future. I always enjoy Johan’s writing, and was really looking forward to seeing how ThunderX2 would stack up. Many people are convinced that ARM is really only suitable in low power / mobile scenarios, but this is the chip that may finally prove otherwise. That has significant ramifications for the entire industry (including the consumer space), especially when you consider that Cavium could put out a TSMC 10nm or even 7nm shrink of ThunderX2 before Intel can get off of 14nm. Reply
  • HStewart - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    This does not proved that ARM is suitable in higher end space - look at the core specific speed - it extremely low compare to Intel and AMD server chips. Keep in mind it takes 128 total cores - running at 4SMT system. And what about other operations - what about Virtual Machine situation - where you have many virtual x86 machines on VMWare server,

    How about high end mathematical and vector logic?

    It does seem like ARM can run more threads - but maybe Intel or AMD has never had the need to

    I think this latest Core battle is silly - I think it really not the number of cores you have but combination of type and speed of cores along with number of cores.
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    It certainly does prove that Arm can do high end servers - the results clearly show IPC/GHz is very close on SPECINT. Base clock speeds are the same as the Intel cores, and that's the speed the server runs at when not idle. But there are more cores as you say, so who will win is obvious.

    Now imagine a next-gen 7nm version before Intel manages 10nm. Not a pretty picture, right?
  • HStewart - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    Ok I have learn to agree to disagree with some people

    Can this server run the VMWare server

    The answer is no - just one example - many more,

    On 10nm - it not number that matters - it technology behind it - Intel supposely has a i3 and Y based for CannonLake coming this year - probably more.
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    There are plenty of VMs for Arm, so virtualization is not an issue.

    10nm will be behind 7nm even if it ends up as originally promised and not using relaxed rules to become viable for volume production.
  • ZolaIII - Thursday, May 24, 2018 - link

    When optimized for SIMD NEON extension things changed dramatically. All tho NEON isn't exactly the best SIMD never the less number's speak for them self.
    Tho Centriq is a bit pricier, bit overly slower than this but main point is it whose built on comparable lithography to current Intel's 14nm. So you get cheaper hardware, which can be packaged tighter & will consume much less power while being compatible regarding the performance. Triple win situation (initial cost, cost of ownership and scaling) but it still isn't turn key one whit isn't crucial for big vendor server farms anyway.
  • name99 - Thursday, May 24, 2018 - link

    ARM (and this particular chip) aren't trying to solve every problem in the world. They're trying to offer a better (cheaper) solution for a PARTICULAR subset of customers.

    If you think such customers don't exist, then why do you think Intel has such a wide range of Xeons, including eg all those Xeon Silvers that only turbo up to 3GHz? Or Xeon Gold's that max out at 2.8GHz?
  • lmcd - Thursday, May 24, 2018 - link

    Second page: supports SR-IOV, which is important for KVM and Xen. If you're not aware, Xen and KVM are powerful virtualization solutions that cover the feature set of VMWare quite nicely. Reply
  • HStewart - Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - link

    "I really think Anandtech needs to branch into different websites. Its very strange and unappealing to certain users to have business/consumer/random reviews/phone info all bunched together."

    I different in this - I don't think AnandTech should concentrate on just gaming in focus - this is rather old school - I am not sure about mobile phones in the mess of all this

    But comparing ARM cpu's to Intel/AMD is interesting subject. It basically RISC vs CISC discussion - yes RISC can do operations quicker in some cases - but by definition of the architecture they are Reduce in what they do. Fox example it would take RISC a ton of instructions to executed a single AVX style operation.

    This article is closest I have seen in comparing ARM vs x86 base machines - but even though I see some holes - it comes close - but having just be Linux based leaves out why people purchase such machine - I think Virtual Machine server is huge - but like everything else on the internet that is just an opinion

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