Inspur Blog

SPEC and How Compute Performance Benchmarks Lead to Better Servers

SPEC (Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation) is a globally renowned third-party application performance testing organization that establishes, maintains, and endorses a set of benchmarks for evaluating server application performance. SPEC metrics have been used as the authoritative reference for both performance and cost of software and hardware platforms for selecting IT systems in key industries such as finance, and telecommunications. Consequently, SPEC performance testing methods, such as SPEC CPU and SPEC Power tests, are widely used when evaluating project bids.

With a comprehensive range of definitive benchmarks for industry applications, SPEC sets important standards for the quality and performance of servers. SPEC also reflects the evolving technology requirements of the industry, developed based on real application scenarios for end users. As a result, more, better servers enter the scene each year than the year before. Inspur’s product development is directly influenced by SPEC and other benchmarks to consistently produce some of the most competitive servers on the market: as of February 2022, Inspur Information has released server test results for a total of 1,209 SPEC benchmark tests, in which it broke 292 records.

SPEC CPU2017 tests for common CPU-intensive operations. These scenarios include language compilation, weather forecasting, video encoding, gene sequencing, discrete event simulation, quantum computing, molecular dynamics simulation, ray tracing in physics simulation, fluid mechanics computing, and speech recognition. Inspur NF8480M6 came in first in the SPEC CPU2017 Integer Rates test with a score of 504, highlighting the powerful high-density integer computing capability of the Inspur M6 server platform.

The SPECPower_ssj2008 on the other hand measures the power and performance characteristics of server-class compute equipment. Inspur’s NF8480M6 placed first in this test with a score of 11344 ssj/W (number of transactions processed per unit of power as a measure of performance per watt), 26.3% higher than the industry average. In layman’s terms, this means that it will only consumes 73.7% of the power required by comparable products. In a data center with millions of servers, this can result in savings of hundreds of millions of USD in energy costs.

Beyond performance and energy efficiency, SPEC also tests for cloud, data, AI and storage requirements. SPEC virt_sc2013 measures the performance and efficiency of virtualization solutions. NF5280M6 scored 4679 from the operation of 263 highly loaded virtual machines on one server, toppling the data center virtualization performance world record held for four years.

The M6 platform’s test results are a result of various performance optimizations and hardware design implementations, including:

  • Hot swap and intelligent discovery/management that provide high RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability) and reduced unplanned downtime for data-intensive analysis and processing requests in critical applications
  • Wide heatsinks that improve airflow through inlets and outlets and significantly increase the efficiency of CPU Turbo Boost technology
  • Upgraded chip interlink technology and load balancing topology technology which distribute loads evenly across CPUs for critical enterprise applications
  • T-shaped energy-saving heatsinks that reduce CPU power consumption by nearly 23% and improve server cooling efficiency by 22%
  • Intelligent temperature regulation technology based on the PID algorithm that allows fans to adjust speeds based on the working temperature of components, minimizing energy expenditure from cooling

These design decisions were a culmination of the Inspur product team’s extensive development process. Optimization strategies are exhaustively explored. Rigorous testing is conducted on a wide array of factors, including CPU performance, memory throughput, system energy efficiency, concurrency, load balancing, software performance and other aspects. Test data is collected and thoroughly analyzed to identify the best optimizations. All this engineering goes into producing a server that not only meets, but surpasses, SPEC standards in the interest of offering up the best technology solutions that address industry needs and challenges.

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