Russian CPU Tested Against Intel and Huawei Processors, Fails to Impress

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 The chip was way behind Huawei’s processor but beat Intel’s outdated offering in some tests.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Having launched in 2019, Intel’s Xeon Gold 6230 CPU is a bit outdated and not necessarily a fair competitor to choose for the Baikal-S. It sports just 20 cores (40 threads) and base and boost clock speeds up to 2.1 GHz and 3.9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.

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Processor Cores / Threads Base / Boost Clock (GHz) L3 Cache (MB) TDP (W) Microarchitecture Lithography
Baikal-S 48 / 48 2.0 / 2.5 24 120 Arm Cortex-A75 16nm
Kunpeng 920 48 / 48 2.6 / N/A 48 158 TaiShan v110 7nm
Xeon Gold 6230 20 / 40 2.1 / 3.9 27.5 125 Cascade Lake 14nm

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.

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Processor CoreMark (Single-Thread) CoreMark (Multi-Thread) Stream (Single-Thread) Stream (Multi-Thread)
Kunpeng 920 18,398 945,564 N/A 110 GB/s
Baikal-S 16,302 769,354 19 GB/s 83 GB/s
Xeon Gold 6230 N/A 539,036 N/A 62 GB/s

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.

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Processor Linpack (Single-Threaded) Linpack (Multi-Threaded)
Kunpeng 920 N/A 327 GFLOPS
Baikal-S 8.5 GFLOPS 353.3 GFLOPS
Xeon Gold 6230 N/A 849 GFLOPS

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.

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Processor 7-Zip Compression 7-Zip Decompression Geekbench 5 (Single-Threaded) Geekbench 5 (Multi-Threaded)
Kunpeng 920 150,105 239,042 N/A N/A
Baikal-S 86,953 134,271 498 16,511
Xeon Gold 6230 N/A 80.508 1,058 9,165

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.