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Understanding single thread score for pfsense firewall

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  • Understanding single thread score for pfsense firewall

    I'm looking to build a pfsense box and trying to understand tradeoff b/t clock speed and single thread scores. pfsense recommends clock speed >2.0 GHz for certain applications, and I have read the software relies primarily on single thread processing.

    I have found CPUs with 2.0 GHz speeds or greater have lower single thread scores than CPUs with slower speeds...for example

    Celeron N2830 @2.2 GHz has SThread=661 (yr 2014)
    AMD GX-420CA @2.0 GHz has SThread=605 (yr 2013)

    Celeron 3855U @1.6 GHz has SThread=846 (yr 2016)
    Celeron N4100 @1.1 GHz has SThread=1025 (yr 201

    The N4100 has almost 60% greater single thread score than the N2830 with half the clock speed. How do I go about determining best/ideal/proper CPU for my application. Would the N2830 be best purely based on clock speed, or would the higher single thread performance yield better results?

    I also read that Instructions Per Cycle (or clock) is a good indicator, but can't find that metric anywhere.

    many thanks

  • #2
    Clock speed is no longer a good indication of CPU performance.
    The Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz from 2008 is well over 2Ghz, but I am sure it is not a suitable option.

    So their criteria of 2Ghz or greater doesn't make sense anymore. 10 years ago it probably made some sense.

    If cooling and electrical power usage are not big concerns, just pick the best CPU you are afford from the single thread benchmark chart
    If cooling and electrical power usage are big concerns, then pick the best CPU you are afford (and is available for purchase wherever you are) from the CPU Power / Performance chart.


    • #3

      I noticed the Celeron N4100, above, @1.1 GHz has a high has SThread=1025. Is that because it is a quality chip, e.g rated High Mid range? ....and much newer

      Netgate has two sub $400 pfsense firewall appliances, one a Dual Core Cortex-A53 ARM64 Soc @ 1.2GHz and the other a Dual Core Cortex-A9 ARM7 SoC @ 1.6GHz, but neither support AES-NI. I was hoping to confirm these CPUs' single thread benchmark scores in order to determine a minimal baseline for picking another CPU, but couldn't find any single thread benchmarks. Would you have any idea how I could determine a baseline single thread benchmark?

      thanks again


      • #4
        We don't have single thread ARM benchmarks. Sorry.


        • #5
          Thanks. My last question wasn't very clear. I wasn't looking for ARM benchmarks, but a starting point for single thread benchmarks, generally speaking. e.g. should I be looking at CPUs w/ single thread benchmarks > 500? or >750?, etc. I suppose everyone's situation is unique and it would be hard to quantify, I'm just not sure what a good starting point is.


          • #6
            I know nothing about the pfsense software and also nothing about the amount of traffic you are planning on putting through the firewall (which I assume ultimately determines the CPU required). So can't really comment on what CPU you need, other then what I said in my first post.


            • #7
              thumbs up. thanks again