Enterprise & Cloud Benchmarks

Below you can find Intel's internal benchmarking numbers. The EPYC 7601 is the reference (performance=1), the 8160 is represented by the light blue bars, the top of the line 8180 numbers are dark blue. On a performance per dollar metric, it is the light blue worth observing.

Java benchmarks are typically unrealistically tuned, so it is a sign on the wall when an experienced benchmark team is not capable to make the Intel 8160 shine: it is highly likely that the AMD 7601 is faster in real life.

The node.js and PHP runtime benchmarks are very different. Both are open source server frameworks to generate for example dynamic page content. Intel uses a client load generator to generate a real workload. In the case of the PHP runtime, MariaDB (MySQL derivative) 10.2.8 is the backend.

In the case of Node.js, mongo db is the database. A node.js server spawns many different single threaded processes, which is rather ideal for the AMD EPYC processor: all data is kept close to a certain core. These benchmarks are much harder to skew towards a certain CPU family. In fact, Intel's benchmarks seem to indicate that the AMD EPYC processors are pretty interesting alternatives. Surely if Intel can only show a 5% advantage with a 10% more expensive processor, chances are that they perform very much alike in the real world. In that case, AMD has a small but tangible performance per dollar advantage.

The DPDK layer 3 Network Packet Forwarding is what most of us know as routing IP packets. This benchmark is based upon Intel own Data Plane Developer Kit, so it is not a valid benchmark to use for an AMD/Intel comparison.

We'll discuss the database HammerDB, NoSQL and Transaction Processing workloads in a moment.

The second largest performance advantage has been recorded by Intel testing the distributed object caching layer memcached. As Intel notes, the benchmark was not a processing-intensive workload, but rather a network-bound workload. As AMD's dual socket system is seen as a virtual 8-socket system, due to the way that AMD has put four dies onto each processor and each die has a sub-set of PCIe lanes linked to it, AMD is likely at a disadvantage.

Intel's example of network bandwidth limitations in a pseudo-socket configuration

Suppose you have two NICs, which is very common. The data of the first NIC will, for example, arrive in NUMA node 1, Socket 1, only to be accessed by NUMA node 4, Socket 1. As a result, there is some additional latency incurred. In Intel's case, you can redirect a NIC to each socket. With AMD, this has to be locally programmed, to ensure that the packets that are sent to each NICs are processed on each virtual node, although this might incur additional slowdown.

The real question is whether you should bother to use a 2S system for Memached. After all, it is distributed cache layer that scales well over many nodes, so we would prefer a more compact 1S system anyway. In fact, AMD might have an advantage as in the real world, Memcached systems are more about RAM capacity than network or CPU bottlenecks. Missing the additional RAM-as-cache is much more dramatic than waiting a bit longer for a cache hit from another server.

The virtualization benchmark is the most impressive for the Intel CPUs: the 8160 shows a 37% performance improvement. We are willing to believe that all the virtualization improvements have found their way inside the ESXi kernel and that Intel's Xeon can deliver more performance. However, in most cases, most virtualization systems run out of DRAM before they run out of CPU processing power. The benchmarking scenario also has a big question mark, as in the footnotes to the slides Intel achieved this victory by placing 58 VMs on the Xeon 8160 setup versus 42 VMs on the EPYC 7601 setup. This is a highly odd approach to this benchmark.

Of course, the fact that the EPYC CPU has no track record is a disadvantage in the more conservative (VMware based) virtualization world anyway.

Competitive Analysis and Price Comparisons Database Performance & Variability
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  • piesquared - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    And the hilarity continues. So AMD posts in house benchmarks and the crowd goes: Derp, these are AMD supplied benchmarks, best wait for third party benchmarks.
    Intel posts in house benchmarks and the crowd goes: Wow awesome dude, that's the shitsors! Who needs third party benchmarks, AMD should post more in house benchmarks. derp derp
  • tamalero - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    Guerrilla marketing at its finest? The hilarity is that when Intel was dominating.. they never mentioned intel nor they needed.

    Now that AMD has a compelling product. They suddenly started doing "comparisons" left and right and claiming how bad "glue" is in AMD cpus (while ignoring the drama bout using cheap TIM instead of solder)
  • bmf614 - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    Epyc really hasnt even launched yet. Try buying a Dell or HP with Epyc. Nope.
  • supdawgwtfd - Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - link

    It's launched. Demand has outstripped supply. They are now starting to get on top of it.

    Maybe stop being an Intel biased dickhead and go look at what is actually happening?
  • Topweasel - Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - link

    Yeah, I don't get it. I mean even Ryzen mobile launched well before we saw it. Eypc announcement early was important to build up demand with OEM's. Something that wasn't as important with a consumer product that needed announcement with availability. EPYC's announcement wasn't for the end purchaser. Both these need long testing periods and seed supply. Epyc then has ODM builds for cloud services that they have supply. Ryzen mobile launched when OEM's had products to ship. EPYC launched when they products to ship to manufacturers. When those Manufacturers offered EPYC depends completely on their development cycle.
  • Johan Steyn - Monday, December 18, 2017 - link

    Haha so true
  • Ninhalem - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    Can we get ANSYS Structural or Comsol benchmarks for the HPC sections? Building machines using Xeons for these applications is beyond expensive for engineering design on fixed price contracts.
  • anactoraaron - Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - link

    No, because AT didn't test anything here. They are just 'publishing' Intel's benchmarks and calling it an 'analysis'.

    Doesn't this qualify for the #ad in the title?
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - link

    To throw some context in here, the purpose of this article isn't to publish Intel's benchmarks. Rather, it's commentary on what has been a very unusual situation.

    Up until now, neither AMD nor Intel have engaged in any serious Skylake Xeon vs. Zen EPYC technical marketing.

    "AMD's technical marketing of the new CPU has been surprisingly absent, as the company not published any real server benchmarks. The only benchmarks published were SPEC CPU and Stream, with AMD preferring for its partners and third parties to promote performance"

    This despite the fact that AMD and Intel's server products haven't been competitive like this in nearly a decade. Normally you'd expect there to be case studies flying out left and right, which has not been the case. And it's especially surprising since, as the underdog, AMD needs to claw back lost ground.

    Consequently, Intel's own efforts are, to date, the first efforts by a server vendor to do a comprehensive set of benchmarks over a range of use cases. And let's be clear here: this is Intel doing this for Intel's own benefit. Which is why we've already previously reviewed the two CPUs, as have other 3rd party groups.

    Still, I think it's very interesting to look at what Intel has chosen to represent, and what their numbers show. Intel has more resources than pretty much everyone else when it comes to competitive analysis, after all. So their choices and where they show themselves falling behind AMD says a lot about the current situation.

    (And no, this doesn't quality for #ad as Intel hasn't paid us. That's not how this works; that's not how any of this works)
  • deltaFx2 - Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - link

    @Ryan Smith: "Up until now, neither AMD nor Intel have engaged in any serious Skylake Xeon vs. Zen EPYC technical marketing." I think that's largely because the market is different from a decade ago. Hyperscalers do their own testing and aren't swayed by Intel's or AMD's whitepapers. They do their own thing. There are still many companies that buy and maintain their own servers, but my understanding is that this market is shrinking or at least not growing. Cloud is where the money is, and they know what they want. I don't think AMD is trying to go after enterprise this time around (I'm sure they'll take their business but the main target seems to be hyperscalers. The CCX, MCM, large memory footprint etc all point to them saying we'll target scale-out as opposed to scale-up. AMD does quite well in scale-out, while taking a hit in scale-up.).

    Also, AMD might still be in the process of doing minor firmware tweaks as evidenced by tier-1 server availability (HP/Dell) coming online only end of Q4.

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