AMD EPYC 3251 Benchmarks and Review the Challenger We Need

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AMD EPYC 3251 Benchmarks

For this exercise, we are using our legacy Linux-Bench scripts which help us see cross-platform “least common denominator” results we have been using for years as well as several results from our updated Linux-Bench2 scripts. At this point, our benchmarking sessions take days to run and we are generating well over a thousand data points. We are also running workloads for software companies that want to see how their software works on the latest hardware. As a result, this is a small sample of the data we are collecting and can share publicly. Our position is always that we are happy to provide some free data but we also have services to let companies run their own workloads in our lab, such as with our DemoEval service. What we do provide is an extremely controlled environment where we know every step is exactly the same and each run is done in a real-world data center, not a test bench.

Python Linux 4.4.2 Kernel Compile Benchmark

This is one of the most requested benchmarks for STH over the past few years. The task was simple, we have a standard configuration file, the Linux 4.4.2 kernel from kernel.org, and make the standard auto-generated configuration utilizing every thread in the system. We are expressing results in terms of compiles per hour to make the results easier to read.

AMD EPYC 3251 Linux Kernel Compile Benchmark
AMD EPYC 3251 Linux Kernel Compile Benchmark

Performance is right alongside what we are we would expect from an 8-core AMD EPYC Zen core CPU. You can see that it is in the middle of 8-core Intel Xeon Skylake offerings.

c-ray 1.1 Performance

We have been using c-ray for our performance testing for years now. It is a ray tracing benchmark that is extremely popular to show differences in processors under multi-threaded workloads. Our previous generation benchmark suite uses a 4K resolution test. We normally do not publish this anymore since higher-end SKUs do not offer enough differentiation. Since our data set is larger with the 4K tests on the embedded side, we wanted to get some numbers out there.

AMD EPYC 3251 C Ray 4K Benchmark
AMD EPYC 3251 C Ray 4K Benchmark

We are using our new Linux-Bench2 8K render to show differences.

AMD EPYC 3251 C Ray 8K Benchmark
AMD EPYC 3251 C Ray 8K Benchmark

Since this is a less memory-bandwidth constrained workload, we see a really interesting pattern. The AMD EPYC 3251 out-performs the 8-core AMD EPYC 7251 by the narrowest of margins.

7-zip Compression Performance

7-zip is a widely used compression/ decompression program that works cross-platform. We started using the program during our early days with Windows testing. It is now part of Linux-Bench.

AMD EPYC 3251 7zip Compression Benchmark
AMD EPYC 3251 7zip Compression Benchmark

A quick note here, this result is sorted on the decompression speed. That is important because both the AMD EPYC 3251, other AMD EPYC architectures, and Intel Atom C3955 all have higher decompression versus compression speeds. Skylake architectures are flipped with higher compression numbers, so sorting matters.

Performance of the AMD EPYC 3251 is generally great and is competitive with a 12-core Intel Xeon D-1557 or an 8 core Intel Xeon D-2141I.

NAMD Performance

NAMD is a molecular modeling benchmark developed by the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More information on the benchmark can be found here. We are going to augment this with GROMACS in the next-generation Linux-Bench in the near future. With GROMACS we have been working hard to support Intel’s Skylake AVX-512 and AVX2 supporting AMD Zen architecture. Here are the comparison results for the legacy data set:

AMD EPYC 3251 NAMD Benchmark
AMD EPYC 3251 NAMD Benchmark

Here we see performance matching the Intel Xeon D-2141I and significantly outpacing the D-1541. That is a trend, however, we will see a different story on the more optimized tests that can use AVX2/ AVX-512.

Sysbench CPU test

Sysbench is another one of those widely used Linux benchmarks. We specifically are using the CPU test, not the OLTP test that we use for some storage testing.

AMD EPYC 3251 Sysbench CPU Multi Benchmark
AMD EPYC 3251 Sysbench CPU Multi Benchmark

Here again, we see solid performance closer to a 12-core Intel Xeon D-1557 CPU and between the Intel Xeon Silver 4108 and 4110 8-core offerings. The Skylake-D 8-core Intel Xeon D-2141I is incrementally faster, but the AMD EPYC 3251 puts forth a strong showing.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Do ya’ll have the 16 core one?

    I’m going to ask our PM team if their fixin’ to make up our appliance with embedded 3000 EPYC.

  2. I’ll read the rest later, but you’re right on the need for an Intel alternative. These side channel attacks and the embedded clock bugs show a need in the market for a second x86 supplier.

    Can someone make a damn mini ITX motherboard with these, 4 DIMM slits and some NVMe headers?

  3. Are the single die parts way cheaper? The higher core counts looked like huge cost savings but I’m not seeing any on AMD’s site. Only 4 SKUs there https://www.amd.com/en/products/specifications/embedded/8161

    Model: AMD EPYC™ Embedded 3251
    Product Type: SOC
    Family: AMD EPYC™ Embedded Processors
    Line: EPYC Embedded SOC
    OPN: PE3251BGR88AF
    TDP: 55W
    CPU Type: Zen
    CPU Base Freq.: 2.5GHz
    CPU Max Freq.: 3.1GHz
    # of CPU Cores: 8
    # of Threads: 16
    GPU Support: No
    Security Processor: Yes
    Total L2 Cache: 4MB
    Total L3 Cache: 16MB
    System Memory Type: DDR4
    DDR4 Rate (Max): 2666 MHz
    Memory Controller: Dual Channel
    ECC: Yes
    USB 2.0: 0
    USB 3.0: 4
    USB 3.1 Gen1: 0
    USB 3.1 Gen2: 0
    SATA: 8
    Low Speed Interfaces: EMMC, eSPI, GPIO, I2C, LPC, SMBus, SPI, UART
    # of PCI controllers: 8
    Gen3: 32
    Gen2/3: 0
    Gen2: 0
    Ambient Temp Range: 0-105°C
    Enhanced Temp Support: Extended Temp (0-105°C)
    Infrastructure: SP4
    Last Time Buy: 2028
    Recommended for new designs: Yes

  4. Unless I missed something, but who makes the NIC? The lspci output showed the NIC as an AMD network card, but who did AMD license the NIC from? What network driver is it the chip using? That could provide some clues.

  5. I’m just surprised AMD building their own NIC IP. I suspect they licensed it as many others do. E.g. Asmedia makes the chipsets.

  6. Hi Misha, I understand it is an SoC. Typically what you do as part of SoC designs is license IP (in chip design IP means a blob of VHDL / Verilog code), so let’s say I design an ARM SoC, I get an ARM core from ARM, I may get a video core IP from Imigation, a flash controller IP from someone else. Yes, you can design pieces in-house too. Something like networking is so complicated and I don’t recall AMD having any experience in there, I doubt they started from scratch and just licensed IP from a Marvell or some other company. I’m curious what IP it is unless it is truly their own design.

  7. Finally, Patrick, thanks.

    I would assume that’s $315 USD in bulk lots of 1000 for the chip? Wholesaler price?
    So could we assume at least $550 / $600 US motherboards using this?

    I’d still strongly consider it, it certainly seems to perform. I’d prefer perhaps something 15w lighter and $100 lighter, but we’ll have to wait for more boards.

    As I posted on the forums, incredibly hugely disappointing that AsRock, SuperMicro, Tyan all either told me “nope, no interest in this!” or flat out didn’t respond!

    These would make a monster FreeNAS machine, especially the 3201 model with 8c/8t at only 30Watts!

    Patrick, do you know if this problem impacts the Epyc 7xxx or 3xxx series?
    https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=196683

    https://forums.freenas.org/index.php?threads/ryzen-stability-on-11-0-u4.59017/

  8. $315 is the tray pricing. Anyone buying these embedded parts is likely buying quantities for motherboard runs.

    I believe that kernel bug is for Ryzen users and has not been confirmed on EPYC.

  9. @kpin:

    I hadn’t thought of that, it seems unlikely but I wouldn’t put it past them to try that.
    I did contact SuperMicro, Tyan and AsRock about this CPU multiple times since Feb and have either had no response or an outright “no” from them, which was disapointing.

    However, SuperMicro already do some AMD Epyc stuff, so they aren’t ‘frightened’ of Intel, to my knowledge.

  10. We need a competitive board to the likes of SMCI’s x11sdv-*c-tlnf8 boards. (I hope I got the model name right from memory.)

    Would be great if we could get the same treats the Intel line currently has.

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