Russian processor developer Baikal Electronics wants to show the world that its chips can compete with Intel, which makes some of the best CPUs on the market, and Huawei. In a series of benchmarks, the company conducted and shared with Russian news outlet Cnews, the fabless semiconductor put its Baikal-S server processor up against Intel's Xeon Gold 6230 and Huawei's Kunpeng 920, and the Russian chip's performance wasn't that good, but wasn't awful either. The chip was way behind Huawei's processor but beat Intel's outdated offering in some tests.
The Baikal-S features 48 Arm Cortex-A75 cores on a 16nm process node with a 2 GHz base clock and 2.5 GHz boost clock. The Kunpeng 920, specifically the 920-4826 model number, wields 48 TaiShan v110 cores with a 2.6 GHz clock speed. Baikal's processor is on an older process node than the Kunpeng 920's newer 7nm TSMC HPC manufacturing process.
Having launched in 2019, Intel's Xeon Gold 6230 CPU is a bit outdated and not necessarily a fair competitor to choose for the Baikal-S. It sports just 20 cores (40 threads) and base and boost clock speeds up to 2.1 GHz and 3.9 GHz, respectively. It's an upgrade over Baikal Electronics' previous comparison, which used an older 20-core Xeon Gold 6148 (Skylake) for the confrontation.
If Baikal wanted a fairer comparison with Intel's server chips, the company would have benchmarked one of Intel's Xeon Platinum products, many of which have 48 or more cores.
For some strange reason, the Russian vendor omitted an AMD chip from its latest comparison. It's a surprising move since Baikal Electronics had enthusiastically claimed that the Baikal-S was comparable to the 16-core EPYC 7351 from the Zen 1 period.
|Cores / Threads
|Base / Boost Clock (GHz)
|L3 Cache (MB)
|48 / 48
|2.0 / 2.5
|48 / 48
|2.6 / N/A
|Xeon Gold 6230
|20 / 40
|2.1 / 3.9
Unfortunately, Baikal didn't disclose the test systems' specifications or the testing environment's conditions in sharing its benchmarks. So take these results with a giant grain of salt.
Although there were only three processors to test, Baikal Electronics didn't run all the benchmarks on each. Whether or not the company was trying to cherry-pick results to help the Baikal-S stand out is uncertain. For us, the challenging part in evaluating these was combing through all the results and finding the most relevant metrics for comparison since some data from specific benchmarks were missing.
|Xeon Gold 6230
Admittedly, CoreMark is far from being a comprehensive benchmark for evaluating processors. Nonetheless, the Kunpeng 920 was up to 13% faster than the Baikal-S in the CoreMark single-threaded test. The Kunpeng 920 also beat the Baikal-S by 23% on the multi-threaded test. Meanwhile, the Baikal-S outperformed the Xeon Gold 6230 by 43% in the same benchmark.
The Stream benchmark helps measure sustainable memory bandwidth. While we know the number of memory channels supported per processor, we don't know the speed or capacity of the DIMMs that Baikal Electronics used for its tests. According to the results, the Baikal-S delivered 34% higher bandwidth than the Xeon Gold 6230 in the Stream benchmark. However, the Russian chip was overshadowed by the Kunpeng 920, which put up a 33% higher score.
|Xeon Gold 6230
The Linpack benchmark is something that many will be familiar with since it's the default test for ranking the TOP500 list of supercomputers. In Baikal Electronics' case, the vendor used version 2.3 of Linpack.
The Xeon Gold 6230 was the best-performing chip in Linpack, annihilating the Baikal-S and Kunpeng 920 by 140% and 160%, respectively. The Baikal-S scored a small victory over the Kunpeng 920, beating the Chinese chip by 8%.
Baikal Electronics also shared some SPEC CPU 2017 benchmark results for the Baikal-S running at 2 GHz and 2.5 GHz. The company didn't compare Baikal-S to the Xeon Gold 6230 or the Kunpeng 920.
|Geekbench 5 (Single-Threaded)
|Geekbench 5 (Multi-Threaded)
|Xeon Gold 6230
Regarding 7-Zip compression workloads, the Kunpeng 920 was 73% faster than the Baikal-S. The company didn't benchmark the Xeon Gold 6230's performance in this metric. On the other hand, the Baikal-S defeated the Xeon Gold 6230 by a 67% margin in the 7-Zip decompression workloads. However, the Baikal-S was no match for the Kunpeng 920, which posted a whopping 78% difference over the Russian processor.
Geekbench 5 is a benchmark that a lot of us can relate to. Although it's not the best test for comparing processors, it's a more mainstream benchmark. Baikal Electronics didn't benchmark the Kunpeng 920. As expected, the Xeon Gold 6230 delivered 112% higher single-core performance than the Baikal-S. However, the Russian chip achieved an 80% higher multi-core score than the Xeon Gold 6230, which is unsurprising considering that Intel's processor has less than half as many cores.
Baikal Electronics products are far from competing with Intel, AMD, or even Huawei, and the company's results back it up. However, given the multi-socket support, the company is optimistic that the Baikal-S can get on par. A two-socket configuration is reportedly ready, while the company's working on a quad-socket design.
According to representatives, the company has already commenced its work on the Baikal-S2, a next-generation 6nm chip with 28 Arm Neoverse-N2 cores ticking at 3 GHz and supporting up to eight channels of DDR5 memory. Baikal Electronics expects to release the Baikal-S2 between the second to third quarter of 2025, allegedly offering performance uplifts up to 6X that of the Baikal-S.
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Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.
If you are going to write an article about ARM, it would be nice if you at least do some research before rushing out an article.Reply
The Baikal-S features 48 Arm Cortex-A75 cores on a 16nm process node with a 2-GHz base clock and 2.5-GHz boost clock. The Kunpeng 920, specifically the 920-4826 model number, wields 48 Armv8 cores with a 2.6-clock speed.The Kunpeng 920-4826 has 48 TaiShan v110 cores. ARMv8 is the ISA or instruction set, not the name of the core. On the other hand, Cortex-A75 is the name of the core. Technically you are wrong here too as the ISA for the Taishan v110 is specifically ARMv8.2, which btw, is the same ISA the Cortex-A75 uses.
Wonder how it compares with China's homegrown CPU?Reply
You're looking at 48x Cortex-A75, or 28x Neoverse-N2 (Cortex-A710 equivalent) for the follow-up with no deviation from ARM. If a system fell into your lap for free, it could make for a nice server.Reply
For most purposes half or less of the performance of an Intel equivalent chips will be more than adequate.Reply
There's nothing Russian about an arm cpu, they're not fabbing it, they didn't come up with it's design, they don't deserve any credit.Reply
To be fair, Intel souffered the same issue when they compared own server cpu to amd epic until recent model, at least. 😂Reply
Performance per watt is what figures largely into tco. Some servers last 10 or more years. If it takes twice as many cores to do the same work you are racking up quite the electricity build. You pay for that increased CPU count 3 ways: electricity to make it run. Air-conditioning to cool it off, and larger footprint.Co BIY said:For most purposes half or less of the performance of an Intel equivalent chips will be more than adequate.
Plus for someone like me who uses build machines, single thread performance is crucial to clearing out the build queue.
According to representatives, the company has already commenced its work on the Baikal-S2, a next-generation 6nm chip with 28 Arm Neoverse-N2 coresI'm surprised sanctions aren't blocking access to either the Neoverse N2 IP or the manufacturing capability for it. I guess they're using Samsung, because I think TSMC isn't accepting fab contracts from Russia.
Yes, more relevant questions might be its max memory capacity and how many PCIe lanes (and what speed) it has.Co BIY said:For most purposes half or less of the performance of an Intel equivalent chips will be more than adequate.
Cue the "Putin Inside" logo!Reply