SPEC - Per-Core Performance under Load

A metric that is actually more interesting than isolated single-thread performance, is actually per-thread performance in a fully loaded system. This actually is a measurement and benchmark figure that would greatly interest enterprises and customers which are running software or workloads that are possibly licensed on a per-core basis, or simply workloads that require a certain level of per-thread service level agreement in terms of performance.

It’s also here where AMD’s new low-core count SKUs are extremely interesting, allowing to really distinguish themselves:

SPEC2017 Rate-N Estimated Per-Thread Performance (1S)

Starting off with the EPYC 7343 and the 7443, what’s really interesting to see here is that they’re both well keeping up with the more expensive 75F3 SKU in terms of per-thread performance. The EPYC 7343 actually outperforms the 7443 in the FP test suite because it has 33% less cores to share the L3 cache, and 50% less cores it has to share the DRAM resources against.

The 72F3 here also showcases its extreme positioning in the SKU stack, having the full 32MB L3 dedicated to a single core, and with the full 8-channel DRAM resources shared only amongst 8 cores, it results it outstandingly good per-thread performance. The chip when running 2 threads per core actually still outperforms the per-thread performance of other higher density core count SKUs running only 1 thread per core.

A good visualisation of the socket throughput versus per-thread performance metrics is plotting the various datapoints in a chart on those two axes:

For today’s review, the 7763 and 75F3 move further to the right and higher than they were before, while the new 7443 and 7343 showcase a quite stark competitive situation against Intel’s Xeon 6330.

The Xeon 6330 costs $1894, while the 7443 and 7343 respectively land in at $2010 and $1563. In terms of socket throughput, the Intel chip roughly matches the 16-core AMD counterpart, while the AMD chip is showcasing 48-75% better performance per thread. The 24-core 7443 showcases 26-32% more socket performance while also at the same time having 47-54% better per-thread performance, while only being priced 6% higher. It seems that it’s clear which designs provide the better value.


SPEC - Single-Threaded Performance SPECjbb MultiJVM - Java Performance


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  • eastcoast_pete - Friday, June 25, 2021 - link

    Interesting CPUs. Regarding the 72F3, the part for highest per-core performance: Dating myself here, but I recall working with an Oracle DB that was licensed/billed on a per-core or per-thread basis (forgot which one it was). Is that still the case, and what other programs (still) use that licensing approach?
    And, just to add perspective: the annual payments for that Oracle license dwarfed the price of the CPU it ran on, so yes, such processors can have their place.
  • flgt - Friday, June 25, 2021 - link

    More workstation than server, but companies like Ansys still require additional license packs to go beyond 4 cores with some of their tools, and they often come with hefty 5-figure price tags depending on the program and your organizations bargaining ability. Reply
  • RollingCamel - Friday, June 25, 2021 - link

    It was refreshing to see Midas NFX running without core limitations.

    The core limitations archaic and doesn't represent the current development. Unless the license policies has evolved in the past years.
  • realbabilu - Monday, June 28, 2021 - link

    Interesting to see The fea implementation with latest math kernel available like midas nfx bench in anandtech. Hopefullly anandteam got demos from midas korea for testing. Abaqus, msc nastran, inventor fea anything will do.
    However i dont think midas improved their math kernel, i had midas civil and gts licensed, but cant use all threads and all memory i had On my pc, like others fea dis.
  • mrvco - Friday, June 25, 2021 - link

    Power unit pricing! LOL, the dreaded Oracle audit when they needed to find a way to make their quarterly numbers!?!?! Reply
  • eek2121 - Friday, June 25, 2021 - link

    It blows my mind that people still use Oracle products. Reply
  • Urbanfox - Sunday, June 27, 2021 - link

    For a lot of things there isn't a viable alternative. The hotel industry is a great example of this with Opera and Micros. Reply
  • phr3dly - Friday, June 25, 2021 - link

    In the EDA world we pay per-process licensing. As with your scenario, the license cost dwarfs the CPU cost, particularly over the 3-year lifespan of a server. You might easily spend 50x the cost of the server on the licenses, depending on the number of cores. Trying to optimize core speed/core count/eventual server load against license cost is a fun optimization problem.

    So yeah, the CPU cost is irrelevant. I'm happy to pay an extra several thousand dollars for a moderate performance improvement.
  • eldakka - Saturday, June 26, 2021 - link

    > Oracle DB that was licensed/billed on a per-core or per-thread basis (forgot which one it was). Is that still the case, and what other programs (still) use that licensing approach?

    Lots of Enterprise applications still use that approach, Oracle (not just DB), IBM products - WebSphere Application Server (all flavours, standalone, ND, Liberty, etc.), messaging products like WebSphere MQ, I believe SAP uses it, many RedHat 'middleware' products (e.g. JBOSS web server, EAS, etc.) use it as well.

    In the enterprise space, it is basically the expected licensing model.

    And the licensing cost per-core is usually 'generation' dependant. So you usually just can't upgrade from, say, a 20-core Xeon 6th-gen to a 20-core 8th gen and expect to pay the same.

    The typical model is a 'PVU', Processor Value Unit (different companies may give it a different label - and value different processors differently, but it usually boils down to the same thing). Each platform-generation (as decided by the software vendor, i.e. Oracle, or IBM, etc.) has a certain PVU per core. E.g., (making up numbers here) a POWER8 (2014ish release) might have a PVU of 4000, and an Intel Haswell/Ivy Bridge - E5/7 v2/3 I think (2014/15ish)- might be given 3500. So if using an 8-core P8 LPAR that'd be 32000 PVU, while an 8 core VI on E7 v3 would be 28000. And P9 might be 7000 PVU, a Milan might be 6000 PVU, so for 8-cores it'd be 56000 or 48000 respectively. Then there will be a doller per PVU multiplier based on the software, so software bob could be x1 per year, so in the P9 case $56k/year license, whereas software fred mught be a x4 multiplier, so $224k/year. And yes, there can be instances where software being run on a single server (not even necessarily a beefy server) can be $millions/year licensing. If some piece of software is critical, but low CPU/memory requirements, such as an API-layer running on x86 hardware that allows midrange-based apps to interface directly to mainframe apps, they can charge millions for it even if its only using combined 8-cores across 4 2-core server instances (for HA) - though in this case, where they know it requires tiny resources, they'll switch to a per-instance rather than a per-core pricing model, and charge $500k per instance for example.

    The per-core PVU can even change within a generation depending on specific CPU feature sets, e.g. the 2TB per-socket limited Xeon might be 5000 PVU, but the 4TB per-socket SKU of the same generation might be 6000 PVU, just because the vendor thinks "they need lots of memory, therefore they are working on big data sets, well, obviously, that's more money!" they want their tithe.

    Oh, and nearly forgot to mention, the PVU can even change depending on whether the software vendor is tring to push their own hardware. IBM might give a 'PVU' discount if you run their IBM products on IBM Power hardware versus another vendors hardware, to try and push Power sales. So even though, in theory, a P9 might be more PVU than a Xeon, but since you are running IBM DB2 on the P9, they'll charge you less money for what is conceptually a higher PVU than on say a Xeon, to nudge you towards IBM hardware. Oracle has been known to do this with their aquired SPARC (Sun)-based hardware too.
  • eastcoast_pete - Saturday, June 26, 2021 - link

    Thanks! I must say that I am glad I don't have to deal with that aspect of computing anymore. I also wonder if people have analyzed just how severely these pricing schemes have blunted or prevented advancements in hardware capabilities? Reply

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