ASUS ESC8000A-E11 8x GPU AMD EPYC Server Review

5

ASUS ESC8000A-E11 Management

The ASUS management solution is built upon the ASPEED AST2600 BMC running MegaRAC SP-X. ASUS claims this is faster to boot, but we did not time it. The AST2600 is a jump in Arm compute resources, so that would make sense.

ASUS calls this solution the ASMB10-iKVM which has its IPMI, WebGUI, and Redfish management for the platform. The last EPYC GPU server we looked at from ASUS, the ESC4000A-E10 was still using ASMB9 and the AST2500, so this is an upgrade to a newer faster BMC.

Some of the unique features come down to what is included. For example, ASUS allows remote BIOS and firmware updates via this web GUI as standard. Supermicro charges extra for the BIOS update feature.

ASUS ASMB10 IKVM Firmware Update
ASUS ASMB10 IKVM Firmware Update

Another nice example is that we get the HTML5 iKVM functionality included with the solution. There are serial-over-LAN and Java iKVM options too. Companies like Dell EMC, HPE, and Lenovo charge extra for this functionality, and sometimes quite a bit extra.

ASUS ASMB10 IKVM HTML5 IKVM Ubuntu Install
ASUS ASMB10 IKVM HTML5 IKVM Ubuntu Install

ASUS supports Redfish APIs for management as well. Something that we do not get is full BIOS control in the web GUI as we get in some solutions such as iDRAC, iLO, and XClarity. For GPU servers where one may need to set features like the above 4G encoding setting with certain configurations, this is a handy feature to have.

Another small feature that is different from ASUS is the IPMI Hardware Monitor or IPMI HWM. While one can pull hardware monitoring data from the IPMI interface, and some from the BIOS, ASUS has a small app to do this from the BIOS.

ASUS ESC4000A E10 ASMB9 IPMI HWM
ASMB9/ ASMB10 IPMI HWM

We like ASUS’s approach overall to management. It aligns with many industry standards and also has some nice customizations.

ASUS ASMB10 IKVM Settings
ASUS ASMB10 IKVM Settings

Some organizations prefer more vendor-centric solutions, but ASUS is designing its management platform to be more of what we would consider an industry-standard solution that does not push vendor lock-in.

Next, let us discuss performance.

ASUS ESC8000A-E11 Performance

We are actually reviewing a few GPU servers at the moment, but the key to this class of systems is cooling. GPUs and CPUs tend to perform similarly in systems when they are properly cooled, but this server we were able to use both AMD EPYC 7763 280W TDP parts, the top-end of the specs for the CPU, as well as 300W NVIDIA A40 GPUs, the top end PCIe cards in terms of TDP.

First, we wanted to validate that the CPU cooling was sufficient so we used two 64 core parts at different TDP levels.

ASUS ESC8000A E11 Dual AMD EPYC And 32 DIMM Slots 1
ASUS ESC8000A E11 Dual AMD EPYC And 32 DIMM Slots 1

Here is what we saw with the AMD EPYC 7713 and AMD EPYC 7763 64-core CPUs compared to our non-GPU server data:

ASUS ESC8000A E11 CPU Performance Compared To Baseline
ASUS ESC8000A E11 CPU Performance Compared To Baseline

Overall, this was very close. We will note that the AMD EPYC 7763 was around 1% slower than our baseline 2U non-GPU server figures. Since that is still within the test variation, it seems reasonable, but it does indicate that this is closer to the limit of the solution’s cooling capability.

Next, we put the NVIDIA A40’s through our AI/ deep learning benchmarks to see how they would perform.

ASUS ESC8000A E11 GPU Performance Compared To Baseline
ASUS ESC8000A E11 GPU Performance Compared To Baseline

You are going to see the baseline system very soon on STH, but overall, the cooling seems to have held up well in this configuration.

ASUS ESC8000A E11 8x NVIDIA A40 4
ASUS ESC8000A E11 8x NVIDIA A40 4

Since we know people love these screenshots, although the maximum power consumption we saw was in the 296-300W range, the idle of each GPU was only 22-31W and the idle temperatures were very cool.

8x NVIDIA A40 NVIDIA SMI
8x NVIDIA A40 NVIDIA SMI

Here is the topology map. We can see the power of AMD EPYC PCIe Gen4 connectivity here.

8x NVIDIA A40 NVIDIA SMI Topology
8x NVIDIA A40 NVIDIA SMI Topology

Overall, performance was solid for a system in this class.

Next, let us get to power consumption and then to the STH Server Spider and our final words.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
9.2
Performance
9.5
Feature Set
9.1
Value
9.0
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Patrick has been running STH since 2009 and covers a wide variety of SME, SMB, and SOHO IT topics. Patrick is a consultant in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about server, storage and networking, building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Very interesting system Patrick. Thanks for making this article about it. It is rather impressive to see this amount of GPU and CPU power, along with full DIMM capacity. It is not clear from the ASUS website or the article, but it appears that this system also repurposes one xGMI link, like the R7525, to reach 160 PCIe lanes.

    The screenshots from the ASPEED AST2600 iKVM look exactly like the Lenovo SR655.

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