Multi-Threaded Integer Performance: SPEC CPU2006

The value of SPEC CPU2006 int rate is questionable as it puts too much emphasis on bandwidth and way too little emphasis on data synchronization. However, it does give some indication of the total "raw" integer compute power available.

Subtest
SPECCPU2006
integer
Application type Cavium
ThunderX
2 GHz
Xeon D-1587
1.8-2.4
Xeon E5-2640 v4
2.4-2.6
400.perlbench Spam filter 372 394 322
401.bzip2 Compression 166 225 216
403.gcc Compiling 257 218 265
429.mcf Vehicle scheduling 110 130 224
445.gobmk Game AI 411 337 269
456.hmmer Protein seq. analyses 198 299 281
458.sjeng Chess 412 362 283
462.libquantum Quantum sim 139 126 231
464.h264ref Video encoding 528 487 421
471.omnetpp Network sim 121 127 172
473.astar Pathfinding 143 165 195
483.xalancbmk XML processing 227 219 266

On average, the ThunderX delivers the throughput of an Xeon D1581 or Xeon E5-2640. There are some noticeable differences between the subtest though, especially if you check the scalability.

Subtest
SPECCPU2006
integer
Application type Cavium
ThunderX
2 GHz
(48 copies)
Xeon D-1587
1.8-2.3
(32 copies)
Xeon E5-2640 v4
2.4-2.6
(20 copies)
400.perlbench Spam filter 43x 14x 10x
401.bzip2 Compression 25x 13x 11x
403.gcc Compiling 22x 8x 9x
429.mcf Vehicle scheduling 15x 3x 6x
445.gobmk Game AI 41x 17x 12x
456.hmmer Protein seq. analyses 42x 14x 11x
458.sjeng Chess 47x 16x 11x
462.libquantum Quantum sim 8x 2x 4x
464.h264ref Video encoding 42x 13x 10x
471.omnetpp Network sim 17x 6x 7x
473.astar Pathfinding 16x 10x 10x
483.xalancbmk XML processing 27x 7x 7x

Mcf is memory latency bound, but if you run 32 threads on the Xeon D, you completely swamp its memory subsystem. The ThunderX and Xeon E5 scale better simply because they can deliver better bandwidth... but one has to wonder if this has anything to do with what people who actually use mcf will experience, as mcf is mostly latency bound. It seems like a corner case.

The XML processing testis probably a lot closer to the real world: it is much easier to split XML (or JSON) processing into many parallel parts (one per request). This is something that fits the ThunderX very well, it edges out the best Xeon D. The same is true for the video encoding tests. This indicates that the ThunderX is most likely a capable Content Delivery Network (CDN) server.

Gcc and sjeng scale well and as a result, the Thunder-X really shines in these subtests.

Single-Threaded Integer Performance: SPEC CPU2006 Comparing With the Other ARMs: Single-Threaded Compression/Decompression
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  • Spunjji - Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - link

    Well, this is certainly promising. Absent AMD, Intel need some healthy competition in this market - even if it is in something of a niche area. Reply
  • niva - Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - link

    This is the area where profits are made, not "something of a niche area." Reply
  • Shadow7037932 - Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - link

    Yeah, I mean getting some big customers like Facebook or Google would be rather profitable I'd imagine. Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, June 16, 2016 - link

    More than 30% of Intel's revenue, and the most profitable area for years, and for years to come... Reply
  • prisonerX - Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - link

    This is the future. Single thread performance has reached a dead end and parallelism is the only way forward. Intel's legacy architecture is a millstone around its neck. ARM's open model and efficient implementation will deliver more cores and more performance as software adapts.

    The monopolists monopolise themselves into irrelevance yet again.
    Reply
  • CajunArson - Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - link

    " Intel's legacy architecture is a millstone around its neck."

    I wouldn't call those Xeon-D parts putting up excellent performance at lower prices and vastly lower power consumption levels to be any kind of "millstone".

    "ARM's open model and efficient implementation "

    What's "open" about these Cavium chips exactly? They can only run a few specialized Linux flavors that don't even have the full range of standard PC software available to them.

    What is efficient about a brand-new ARM chip from 2016 losing at performance per watt to the 4.5 year old Sandy Bridge parts that you were insulting?

    As for monopolies, ARM has monopolized the mobile market and brought us "open" ecosystems like the iPhone walled-garden and Android devices that literally never receive security updates. I'd take a plain x86 PC that I can slap Linux on any day of the week over the true monopoly that ARM has over locked-down smartphones.
    Reply
  • shelbystripes - Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - link

    You're right to criticize the "millstone" comment, Intel has done quite well achieving both high performance and high performance-per-watt in their server designs.

    But your comment about a "true monopoly" in the "locked-down smartphone" market is ridiculous. The openness (or lack thereof) that you're complaining about has nothing to do with the CPU architecture at all. An x86 smartphone or tablet can just as easily be locked down, and they are. I own a Dell Venue 8 7000, which is an Android tablet with an Intel Atom SoC inside. It's a great tablet with great hardware. But it's got a bunch of uninstallable crapware installed, Dell abandoned it after 5.1 (it's ridiculous that a tablet with a quad-core 2GHz SoC and 2GB RAM will never see Marshmallow), and the locked smartphone-esque bootloader means I can't repurpose it to a Linux distro even if one existed that supported all the hardware inside this thing.

    On the flipside, the most popular open-source learning/development solution out there right now is the ARM-based Raspberry Pi. There are a number of Linux distros available for it, and everything is OSS, even the GPU driver.
    Reply
  • TheLightbringer - Thursday, June 16, 2016 - link

    You haven't done your homework.

    Some mobile devices were coming with Intel. But like Microsoft it entered the market too late, without offering any real value. The phrase "Too little, too late" fit them both.

    ARM didn't do a monopoly. They just simply saw an opportunity and embrace it. In the early IBM clone days Intel licensed their architecture to allow competition and broad arrange of products. After the market was won, they went greedy, didn't licensed the architecture anymore and cut a lot of players out, leaving a need for a chip licensing scheme. And that's where ARM got in.

    Google develops Android OS, but is up to phone vendors and carriers to deploy them. And they don't want to for economic reasons. They prefer to sell you a new phone for $$$.

    Intel and MS got in the mobile/car market exactly what they deserve, nothing else.
    Reply
  • junky77 - Friday, June 17, 2016 - link

    they all greedy. Some just play it smartly or have more luck in decision making
    But, yea, when you read about the way IBM behaved when things were fresh - it's quite amazing. They had much of the market and could do a lot of stuff, but they simply had a very narrow mind set
    Reply
  • soaringrocks - Wednesday, June 15, 2016 - link

    You make it sound like it's mostly a SW problem, I think it's more complex than that. Actual performance is very dependent on the types of workload and some tasks fit Intel CPUs nicely and the performance per watt for ARM is lacking despite the hype of that architecture being uniquely qualified for low-power. It will be fun to watch how the battle evolves though. Reply

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