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.

The Altra Max here is inevitably expected to post worse metrics than the Altra – first of all due to the 10% lower core frequencies, and second of all due to lower shared resources that need to be shared amongst more cores.

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

As expected, taking view of the aggregate socket performance figures here, the M128-80 doesn’t fare well here in the metric, as it takes the much controversial “flock of chickens” approach to core performance. It’s also dragged down by the score regressions in the memory bound workload in SPEC.

In terms of total throughput vs per-thread performance, the M128-30 barely differs to the EPYC 7763 with SMT and half the physical cores.

Again, I have to reiterate that these figures are all very much not in favour of the workloads that the Altra Max was designed for – cloud and hyperscaler workloads, which don’t tend to have the same harsher memory demands as some of the workloads in the SPEC suite. However, extracting those workloads in a different subset would also be a questionable practise and actually frowned upon.

The Altra Max here really does need to have huge footnotes in the way that it presents itself.

SPEC - Single-Threaded Performance SPECjbb MultiJVM - Java Performance
POST A COMMENT

60 Comments

View All Comments

  • Jurgen B - Thursday, October 7, 2021 - link

    Love your thorough article and testing. This is some serious firing power from the Ampere and makes some great competition for Intel and AMD. I really like the 256T runs on the AMD Dual socket EPYCs (they really are serving me well in floating point research computing), but it seems that future holds some nice innovations in the field! Reply
  • mode_13h - Thursday, October 7, 2021 - link

    Lack of cache seems to be a serious liability, though. For many, it'll be a deal breaker. Reply
  • Wilco1 - Friday, October 8, 2021 - link

    Yet it still beats AMD's 7763 with its humongous 256MB L3 in all the multithreaded benchmarks. Sure, it would be even faster if it had a 64MB L3 cache, however it doesn't appear to be a serious liability. Doing more with far less silicon at a lower price (and power) is an interesting design point (and apparently one that cloud companies asked for). Reply
  • Jurgen B - Friday, October 8, 2021 - link

    Yes, Cache will play a role for many. However, people buying such servers likely have a very specific workload in mind. And thus they now have more choices which of the manufacturer options they prefer, and these choices are really good to see. Compared to 10 years ago, when AMD was much less competitive, it is wonderful to see the innovation. Reply
  • schujj07 - Friday, October 8, 2021 - link

    That isn't true at all. The SPEC java benchmarks have the Epyc ahead, SpecINT Base Rate-N Estimated they are almost equal (despite having half the cores), FP Base Rate-N Estimated the Epyc is ahead, compiling the Epyc is ahead. Anything that will tax the memory subsystem by not fitting into the small cache of the Altra and the performance is lower for the Altera. Per core performance isn't even close. Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, October 9, 2021 - link

    Thanks for correcting the record, @schujj07.

    The whole concept of adding 60% more cores while halving cache is mighty suspicious. In the most charitable view, this is intended to micro-target specific applications with low memory bandwidth requirements. From a more cynical perspective, it's merely an exercise in specsmanship and maybe trying to gin up a few specific benchmark numbers.
    Reply
  • Wilco1 - Saturday, October 9, 2021 - link

    If you're that cynical one could equally claim that adding *more* cache is mighty suspicious and gaming benchmark numbers. Obviously nobody would spend a few hundred million on a chip just to game benchmarks. The fact is there is a market for chips with lots of cores. Half the SPEC subtests show huge gains from 60% extra cores despite the lower frequency and halved L3. So clearly there are lots of applications that benefit from more cores and don't need a huge L3. Reply
  • Wilco1 - Saturday, October 9, 2021 - link

    The Altra Max wins the more useful critical-jOPS benchmark by over 30%. It also wins the LLVM compile test and SPECINT_rate by a few percent. The 7763 only wins SPECFP by 18% (not Altra's market) and max-jOPS by 13%.

    So yes my point is spot on, the small cache does not look at all like a serious liability. Per-core performance isn't interesting when comparing a huge SMT core with a tiny non-SMT core - you can simply double the number of cores to make up for SMT and still use half the area...
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, October 9, 2021 - link

    > Per-core performance isn't interesting when comparing ...

    Trying to change the subject? We didn't mention that. We were talking only about cache.

    > The Altra Max wins the more useful critical-jOPS benchmark by over 30%.

    That's really about QoS, which is a different story. Surely, relevant for some. I wonder if x86 CPUs would do better on that front with SMT disabled.

    > the small cache does not look at all like a serious liability.

    Of course it's a liability! It's just a very workload-dependent one. You need only note the cases where Max significantly underperforms, relative to its 80-core sibling, to see where the cache reduction is likely an issue.

    The reason why there are so many different benchmarks is that you can't just seize on the aggregate numbers to tell the whole story.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, October 9, 2021 - link

    Apologies, I now see where schujj07 mentioned per-core performance. I even searched for "per-core" but not "per core". Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now