Cloudflare and UCloud demonstrate leading performance on Ampere® Altra®

Jeff Wittich – Chief Product Officer

It’s been only a few months since I talked about our busy 2020, where the launch of Ampere® Altra® and strong ecosystem progress culminated in industry-leading performance results achieved by third party reviewers. In this early start to 2021, we have even more news to share as cloud providers on both sides of the Pacific have demonstrated leadership performance results on Ampere Altra. In the United States, Cloudflare has been busy putting Ampere Altra through its paces on its software stack. In China, UCloud has achieved top-end marks on compute-intensive workloads and will bring a new service to their customers based on Ampere Altra.

In a blog published by Cloudflare, they detailed the performance of Ampere Altra on their own benchmark, which has been open-sourced as cf_benchmark. Cloudflare serves almost 20% of all internet traffic, providing CDN, DNS, DDoS protection and other services to many of the world’s leading websites. Performance and security are critical to them as they deploy services across the entire globe on a massive scale. If you’ve used the internet today (and I’m pretty sure that anyone who is reading this has), you’ve probably used one of Cloudflare’s services.

Using the Gigabyte 1P Mt. Snow platform, they measured the 80-Core Q80-30 Ampere Altra CPU across OpenSSL, LuaJIT, Compression, and Go. In each case, they compared Ampere Altra to a baseline case of Graviton2. Overall, Ampere Altra outperformed Graviton2 on almost all metrics with an overall multi-core lead of 31%. It performed particularly well on OpenSSL where performance scaled almost linearly to the max 80 cores and 3.0 GHz, as well as on  LuaJIT where the L1/L2 cache properties of Ampere Altra delivered additional performance gains.

According to Cloudflare, “The Ampere Altra yielded a better single-core performance due to higher operating frequency and multiplied its impact even further by scaling out with a higher core count in multi-core performance against the AWS Graviton2. We also found our Ampere evaluation server consuming less power than we had anticipated and hope this trend will continue in production.” These are impressive results that demonstrate that the performance leadership that Ampere Altra is delivering in lab and benchmarking environments is being delivered – and even surpassed – on real-life workloads.

We’ve had a great relationship with Cloudflare and they agree, “We are currently assessing Altra’s performance against our fleet of servers and collaborating with Ampere to define an Arm edge server based on Altra that could be deployed at scale.”

Ampere engineers have also been working with UCloud, a well-known cloud service provider in China, to launch a new generation of high performance cloud-based products tailored for compute intensive workloads and scientific research, the “Cloud Extreme” high-performance computing EPC.

UCloud is a leading cloud computing service platform. Its products cover IaaS, PaaS, Big Data, and AI, providing comprehensive industry solutions for public cloud, hybrid cloud, private cloud, and proprietary cloud. UCloud has striven to be cloud provider that delivers neutrality and lack of interference in their customers’ business, seeking a differentiated set of offerings. Their focus is to be both a preferred cloud for large Internet companies and the first cloud for growth Internet companies. From its IPO in January 2020, UCloud has expanded its coverage from the Internet to other fields such as government, education, healthcare, retail, and finance.

To grow its public cloud footprint, UCloud continues to increase its investment in edge computing, cloud native applications, AI, and other cutting-edge technologies as well as developing new cloud services like video cloud, cloud gaming, industrial Internet, artificial intelligence, and Cloud HPC. The latter represents a large opportunity for UCloud in attracting computationally intense workloads from research and educational institutions. Naturally, these require the highest levels of server performance.

UCloud is using Ampere Altra in their Kuaijie Lite cloud host to boost performance on applications like bioinformatics, aerodynamic simulation, and weather forecast simulation. Using the well-known Phoronix Test Suite, UCloud tested DGEMM (multi-threaded, dense-matrix multiply computation) and achieved a score of 5.6 GFLOP/s with an Ampere Altra cloud instance using just 32 cores, 2.5 times the performance of their comparable AMD 7542 based Kuaijie cloud instance, also 32 cores. This wasn’t surprising to us at Ampere as Phoronix’s own measurements in December showed a 37% lead over top-bin AMD EPYC 7742 and a 54% lead over Intel Xeon 8280 on the High Performance Conjugate Gradient benchmark.

Besides Cloud HPC, UCloud measured the STREAM benchmark and x264 encoding performance based on the same cloud instances. The results show exceptional performance, far exceeding those of the AMD-based instance and demonstrating the breadth of Ampere Altra’s performance leadership.

This is the first publicly announced cloud computing service in China based on Ampere Altra. It is gratifying to see global adoption of the processor in key cloud environments. As the first cloud-native processor, designed from the ground up to meet the needs of the modern cloud, Ampere Altra was built for scalable workloads of all types, especially the compute intensive targets of UCloud. It excels at delivering predictable high performance, platform scalability, and energy-efficient compute density.

Lei, Yang, Technical VP of UCloud, said “As soon as the Ampere Altra processor was announced, UCloud has started the cooperation with Ampere. In 2020, starting from the initial samples, we transplanted and optimized the software with great support from Ampere, and completed the deployment of several cloud services on Ampere Altra processors when it stepped into volume production in Q4 2020. The launching of “Kuaijie Lite Cloud Host” is the beginning. UCloud will successively launch more cloud products based on Altra processors, such as general-purpose computing instances, cloud games, and other applications. Innovation for the cloud is the vision of both UCloud and Ampere. We believe that the cooperation between us will provide more choices to our increasingly diverse customer applications.”

Behind both usages is GIGABYTE’s Mt. Snow Platform, the R272-P30, a single socket server featuring the Ampere Altra CPU. With 80 cores, 128 PCIe Gen4 lanes, and 8ch DDR4-3200 memory, this 1P box is an incredibly efficient and scalable building block for cloud services of all types. The board is a standard EATX, which makes it an extremely flexible server board that can also go into the E252-P30 2U edge computing server. Just like Ampere, Gigabyte is spanning the cloud from hyperscale to edge with many other platforms in the works.

“GIGABYTE is delighted to be one of the first Ampere Altra server partners and worked closely with Ampere on the development and Arm ecosystem building. Mt. Snow is just the beginning of GIGABYTE’s Ampere Altra platform line-up, and we will provide more optimized architecture such as edge computing, 2U 4-node high-density servers, and GPU solutions. GIGABYTE is ready and excited to be able to empower customers with our all new Altra platforms.” Akira Hoshino, Head of Product Strategy and Planning at GIGABYTE.

These are the first of many announcements we’ll see this year. To get started yourself, sign up for our Early Access Program and check out what’s already running at our Ampere Solutions Portal.

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