Intel Xeon D-1540 Power and Performance Preview

Supermicro X10SDV-F Pre Production with Samsung 16GBx4
Xeon D-1540 with DDR4 RDIMMs

After this week’s Intel Xeon D launch, we highlighted a few platforms, one being the Supermicro X10SDV-F and X10SDV-TLN4F. It quickly became clear that the Intel Xeon D was going to be a new favorite among the dedicated hosting community, virtualization labs and other converged storage and network appliances. There was one problem, unlike many launches, we still did not have one. Luckily, we were able to get a pre-production sample the next day and there are a few more from other vendors already inbound. The particular sample is the Supermicro X10SDV-F. This pre-production sample does not have the 10GbE (that is the X10SDV-TLN4F) and has 100MHz lower SoC clocks than the shipping part. Today we have a preview of the platform. Please do note that we will have a full review when we can get one, but we did want to provide directional guidance on what to expect from the Intel Xeon D-1540 and Broadwell-DE.

Test Configuration

Somewhat limited by the short turn around time, we did our best to put together a representative test platform. It does help to have spare parts in the lab.

  • Motherboard/ SoC: Supermicro X10SDV-F with Intel Xeon D-1540 (pre-produciton with 1.9GHz base clock and 2.4GHz turbo)
  • RAM: 64GB (4x 16GB) Samsung DDR4 16GB RDIMMs
  • SSD: Intel DC S3500 800GB
  • Power Supply: PicoPSU 150-XT with 144w power brick
  • Cooling: 1x Coolermaster 120mm A12025-20RB-3BN-F1

This is certainly not an ideal test bed, but it was fast to setup and we wanted to get initial data out as fast as possible.

Major Note: Please keep in mind, this is pre-production silicon. The clock speeds are 1.9GHz base and 2.4GHz turbo, 100MHz below shipping frequencies.  We also do not know how “leaky” this processor is from a power standpoint. We have at least two more samples that will be running by next week and will also move to 128GB in at least one of the platforms.

Supermicro X10SDV-F, BIOS and Features

Looking at our pre-production Supermicro X10SDV-F we see several interesting features. First, since this is the -F not the -TLN4F version we do not see the 10GbE NICs installed. The SATA connectors are blue instead of white (again this is pre-production.) The other big difference we see from the pictures of the X10SDV-TLN4F is the lack of an active heatsink. I asked Supermicro about this and was told that that thermal solution is not fully finalized but it may be that the 10GbE version will have an active while the non-10GbE version will be passively cooled. Still more coming.

Supermicro X10SDV-F Pre Production Overview
Supermicro X10SDV-F Pre Production Overview

Overall a very compact package. There are only 3x standard PWM fan headers onboard but that is still quite a bit of cooling for this platform.

On the LAN side, one can see the Intel i350-AM2 controller at the edge of the PCB. Supermicro seems to have had to make some design trade-offs just to fit everything onto such a small mITX motherboard.

Supermicro X10SDV-F Pre Production i350-AM2
Supermicro X10SDV-F Pre Production i350-AM2

For those looking to the Intel Xeon D / Broadwell-DE as a compact, low power virtualization platform because of its support of memory capacities >32GB (unlike the Atom C2000 series and Xeon E3 series) we can confirm, 4x 16GB DDR4 RDIMMs were in our test platform and worked flawlessly. We should have 128GB in a system in the next few days but we have at least doubled the 32GB barrier former low power platforms ran into.

Supermicro X10SDV-F Pre Production with Samsung 16GBx4
Supermicro X10SDV-F Pre Production with Samsung 16GBx4

In terms of the #1 feature we see requested by folks for lower-power VMware virtualization platforms is VT-d. Intel promised VT-d with Broadwell-DE as part of its higher-end Xeon features, and we can see the corresponding BIOS setting.

Supermicro X10SDV-F BIOS VT-d
Supermicro X10SDV-F BIOS VT-d

In terms of power management, one can see some of the HWPM settings available on our pre-production motherboard.

Supermicro X10SDV-F BIOS HWPM
Supermicro X10SDV-F BIOS HWPM

Overall, the pre-production board required memory installation and cooling and after that, it was able to boot immediately and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS worked out of the box.

Power Consumption Notes

This information was being updated real-time in our Intel Xeon D forum thread. This is pre-production silicon, not in our official test bed so we will publish official numbers in the coming days and weeks. We did use our Extech TrueRMS Power Analyzer 380803 so these measurements are at the wall.

  • BMC only power off – 4.8w
  • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS installation screen – 26.6w
  • UnixBench 5.1.3 single thread max – 37.2w
  • Multi threaded max observed – 88.2w

Overall, the maximum power dissipation was a bit surprising but idle was solid. Realistically, one can likely get 6x large SATA SSDs connected to one of these motherboards and still stay under 1A @ 120v. We are still working on getting the right BIOS settings, so take this as an initial Broadwell-DE guidance only.

Pre-Production Linux-Bench Performance

In terms of performance, the Intel Xeon D is something special. Again, these figures are rough guidance. We used Linux-Bench but did not complete the full number of runs we do on production silicon. Our pre-production sample is running approximately 5% slower than retail silicon will so these are for preview purposes only. For comparison purposes, we used a Xeon E3-1230 V3 (a previous favorite in the 1A @ 120V space), an Atom C2750 and a dual Intel Xeon L5520 which is/ was an extremely popular configuration at places like Facebook many years ago.

c-ray 1.1 results

We used our Hard and Medium results to show some significant separation between a few different types of processors.

Intel Xeon D-1540 Pre Production Performance UnixBench c-ray
Intel Xeon D-1540 Pre Production Performance UnixBench c-ray

Overall we can see the Xeon D-1540 pre-production sample performs well in c-ray.

UnixBench dhrystone 2 and whetstone

This is a fairly standard math performance tests. We combine both single thread and multi threaded results into one graph.

Intel Xeon D-1540 Pre Production Performance UnixBench dhrystone 2
Intel Xeon D-1540 Pre Production Performance UnixBench dhrystone 2

One can see that our mITX platform is able to perform well against the pre-Xeon E5 generation low power chips in dual socket configurations (the L5630 would be around the performance of the L5520.) The Intel Xeon E3-1230 V3 pulls ahead in the single threaded results simply due to clock speed.

Intel Xeon D-1540 Pre Production Performance UnixBench whetstone
Intel Xeon D-1540 Pre Production Performance UnixBench whetstone

Here we can see that even running the lowest clock speed of the comparison set and at 5% lower than production, the Intel Xeon D-1540 is going to be a strong competitor.

Closing Thoughts

We are excited by what we are seeing from Broadwell-DE pre-production part. The idle power consumption is excellent initial testing and we are already seeing performance figures that are fairly fast. Low power, more performance and higher RAM capacities are a recipe for success in the X10SDV-F’s target market. We do plan to have much more comprehensive testing soon so stay tuned to STH.


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