Intel® Atom® vs Calxeda® ARM®

Intel have released their latest version of their low power CPU the Intel Atom.   The Atom was designed to take on ARMs dominance in the mobile and low power computing market.  So here a Boston Labs we have compared its performance against our very own ARM based Viridis Server.

Comparison of the Intel Atom C2750 and Calxeda ARM A9

ARM A9 ARM A15 Intel Atom C2750
Cores 4 4 8
Threads 4 4 8
Clock Speed 1.1 1.5 2.4
Instruction Set 32 32 64
Cache 4mb 4mb 4mb

Test Systems

The Intel Atom has been tested using the Supermicro 5018A-TN4.   The System has a single Intel Atom. The System was running Centos 6.4 with the latest updates.

http://www.supermicro.com/products/system/1U/5018/SYS-5018A-TN4.cfm

The Calxeda System was a single System on Chip that is part of a 48 Node Viridis System.  The node was running Ubuntu 1304 with the latest updates.

Benchmarks

A range of benchmarks have been tested to compare the overall performance of the two systems: stream, LMbench and Coremark.

Coremark is used to compare the performance of a single core of a CPU.  This is an important comparison here due to the differences in clock speeds and core count. Stream measures the memory bandwidth for the CPUs  accross four operations: Copy, Scale, Add and Triadd.

LMbench compares the CPUs latency and bandwidths across operations using integers, floats and networking.   The results give an indication of the strengths and weaknesses of a CPU, and can be used to suggest the best option.

Results

armaton_coremark

The Atom core achieved just over twice the number of iterations as the Calxeda Core when running coremark.. This is to be expected as the Atom has a Clock speed 2.18 time faster.  When comparing the core mark results it can be seen that this is reflected in the results with a factor of 2.21 difference.

armatom_stream

The stream benchmark results are showing the the graph above.  As expected there has been a noticeable increase in performance between the two generations of ARM CPUs.

The ARM CPUs have half the number of cores as the Atom.  When taking this along with the slower clock speed we would expect the Atom to produce the best performance, but the results do suggest that the ARM CPU is likely to match the Atoms performance with the next generation.

The LMBench Benchmark produces a large amount of data on the CPUs, too much to show here.  But these are some of the more interesting points.

The Graph below shows the time taken to perform mathematical operations on floats and doubles.  These are fundamental operations in computing and are used heavily particularly in scientific computing.  The performance of these operations will give an indication of the overall performance of a code using the CPU.  The Add and Multiply operations give the performance we would expect with the Atom performing around four times as fast.

The divide operation requires a large amount of time in comparison to the other operations which is why high performance codes often try to minimise their use.  The Atom appears to only perform divisions around twice as fast the the ARM A9 CPU.

The Arm A15 has improved its performance significantly in comparison to the A9.  The next generation will move to a 64 bit architecture which should allow it to compete with the Atom.

Atom-Arm_float

 

 

Boston, Calxeda and Fedora Project Deploy Servers on Path to Make ARM a Primary Architecture

Boston Viridis Servers With Calxeda EnergyCore® Accelerate Application Development and Lower Barrier for Porting and Supporting ARM Software Ecosystem for the Fedora Project

St Albans, UK, May 16, 2013 – Boston, a leader in the low power server market, today announced the deployment of Boston Ltd. Viridis servers embedded with Calxeda EnergyCore® chips for the Fedora Project. The availability of the Calxeda-based server cluster is a critical step in helping the Fedora community enable ARM into a primary architecture. This installation, the first enterprise/server-class ARM servers deployed for the ARM port of Fedora, is targeted at the project’s software build infrastructure and accelerates the ability to target the ARM architecture, something the community sees as an emerging industry trend for datacenters in this era of ultra-efficient servers.

“It is nice to see the impact of ARM-based production servers on the Fedora Project,” said Robyn Bergeron, Fedora Project leader, Red Hat. ”The new hardware, and help from Calxeda, Red Hat and other Linaro Enterprise Group members, will facilitate ongoing development of Fedora for the ARM architecture.”

Earlier this year, the Fedora Project, a Red Hat-sponsored and community-supported open source collaboration, announced the availability of Fedora 18, the latest version of its free, open source operating system distribution. Among new ARM architecture-specific features added to Fedora 18 is support for industry standards such as Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE-boot) technology, a method that is frequently used in datacenter automation to simplify operating system installation on servers. That feature was heavily leveraged by the Fedora Project while deploying the cluster of four high-density Calxeda-powered Viridis systems (each with 24 servers inside).

For the deployment, the Fedora Project migrated off of old infrastructure to the Calxeda-based server cluster which enabled physical consolidation of multiple generations of developer boards into a uniform server environment for the ongoing build and validation activities of the project. This deployment of ARM servers is the first time the Fedora community has been able to use the standard deployment tools like PXE and Kickstart on an ARM system. Since deployment into production, the performance and reliability of the new hardware continues to deliver impressive performance, accelerating application development, and lowering the barrier for porting and supporting the ARM software ecosystem.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen as the launching pad for accelerating ARM into a primary Fedora architecture. The Fedora Project team’s experience – from install to deployment to production – is a testament to compatibility of Linux code on Calxeda: it just works,” said Karl Freund, Vice President, Marketing, Calxeda. “That is what datacenters will expect and demand from ARM platforms, and we plan to deliver.”

Boston triumphant at Green I.T. Awards!

We are delighted to announce that Boston’s ARM®-based Viridis server has been awarded ‘One To Watch Product’ at the fourth annual Green IT Awards! The ceremony took place last night at the Grand Connaught Hotel in London in front 150 professionals from a range of organisations involved in the green IT and energy efficiency arenas.

The Boston Viridis, which started life in November 2011 as a concept for a revolutionary low power server designed to rival the traditional x86 server, was officially launched in June 2012. Upon it’s unveiling at ISC 2012 in Germany it became the world’s first ultra-low power server to harness the CPU technology of ARM Holdings – whose processors are synonymous with consumer electronics, mobile devices and tablets.

Now nearly a year on from its launch the innovative server has been awarded the Green IT Magazine ‘One To Watch Product’, beating competition from Cannon Technologies Ltd and Nimbus Data Systems.

Congratulations to everyone involved for this fantastic achievement!