Intel Xeon E7 V4 Launched – Broadwell-EX Big Iron

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SuperServer 8048B-TR4FT - CPUs Installed
SuperServer 8048B-TR4FT - CPUs Installed

As we have seen with previous launches, the Intel Xeon E7 family gets updated just after the mainstream E5 line. When the Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4 series was updated with the new Broadwell-based architecture, we knew the E7 update was coming soon. Intel briefed the press on Broadwell-EX (Xeon E7 V4) at the same workshop we were briefed on the Xeon E5 V4 line. Today, the new Intel Xeon E7 V4 chips have finally been released. These parts are drop-in replacements for previous generation parts (with a BIOS update.) They allow for up to 96 cores/ 192 threads in 4-socket configurations and 192 cores/ 384 threads in 8-socket configurations with a maximum of 12TB or 24TB RAM respectively.

Intel Xeon E7 V4 Overview

The Intel Xeon E7 V4 design imperative is simple: offer the maximum number of cores, sockets, RAM capacity and reliability features in the Intel x86 line-up. In this latest iteration, the Intel Xeon E7-4800 chips support up to four sockets and 12TB of RAM while the Intel Xeon E7-8800 chips support up to 8 sockets and 24TB of RAM. High-end manufacturers can offer third party controllers to allow for 64 sockets per system. When you consider that these platforms support 3TB of RAM per socket, that is a significant difference. For those keeping track, here is Intel’s summary slide on the differences:

Intel Xeon E7 V4 Overview
Intel Xeon E7 V4 Overview

As you can see, the new 14nm Broadwell architecture allows Intel to use up to 24 cores and 48 threads per chip. L3 cache increases to 60MB. Here is a SKU line-up:

Intel Xeon E7 V4 Product Families
Intel Xeon E7 V4 Product Families

There are no E7-2800 V4 dual socket only parts. Instead the E7-4800 V4 series has four SKUs, the Xeon E7-4809 V4, E7-4820 V4, E7-4830 V4 and E7-4850 V4. All four parts are 115w TDP parts. The seen E7-8800 V4 parts can scale up to the E7-8890 V4 with 24 cores / 48 threads, 2.2GHz base clocks, 60MB L3 cache and 165W TDP. The (up to) 8-socket E7-8800 V4 family, as with the E5 V4 line, includes segment optimized processors such as the E7-8893 V4 4 core 3.2GHz chip with 60MB L3 cache targeted at database applications with high per-core costs. It should be noted that the line is limited to lower RAM clock speeds than the E5 V4 line.

Comparing Xeon E7 V4 to Xeon E5 V4

Compared to the top end Intel Xeon E5-2699 V4 (limited to two sockets) the Intel Xeon E7 can scale to use every core and last level cache block in Intel’s two ring design.

Intel Xeon E7 V4 Diagram
Intel Xeon E7 V4 Diagram

In the event that diagram looks familiar, here is the Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4 diagram:

Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4 High Core Count Die
Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4 High Core Count Die

As you can see, the diagrams look very similar with the exception of the additional QPI agent section on the Intel Xeon E7 V4 series. As you may also notice, the E5 V4 line has two cores and cache segments disabled while the E7 V4 line can have them all activated. There is one other difference, despite what the block diagrams say, the E5 V4 line supports 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes per CPU while the E7 V4 line supports up to 32 PCIe 3.0 lanes per CPU. From what we understand, this is a marketing/ packaging limitation.

With the ability to use more cores and more sockets, the Xeon E7 V4 line is targeted at higher-end systems that cost more. Intel is able to offer lower yield parts in the E7 V4 market and charge a premium for it. Here is a look at what 4x 24 core/ 48 thread Intel Xeon E7 V4 chips looks like in Windows Server 2012 R2 task manager:

Intel Xeon E7 V4 192 threads in Windows Task Manager
Intel Xeon E7 V4 192 threads in Windows Task Manager

That picture was taken from our Crushing Cinebench R15 v2 – Intel Xeon E7 V4 96 cores / 192 threads video.

Intel Xeon E7 V4 Cluster on Die mode

One major area upgrade in the E7 V4 line is Cluster on Die (COD) mode. COD mode is not a general purpose mode but as we see core counts increase, it is an interesting tool for HPC applications and HPC installations. Here is the Intel Xeon E7 V4 slide on COD mode:

Intel Xeon E7 V4 Cluster on die mode
Intel Xeon E7 V4 Cluster on die mode

Of course, those following Knight’s Landing (still “unreleased”) will notice that in even higher core count architectures COD mode is more prevalent.

Intel Xeon E7 V4 Platforms

With the Intel Xeon E7 V4 family, there are many fewer vendors that support the chips than with the mainstream Xeon E5 line. William Harmon has had pre-production Intel Xeon E7 V4 silicon running in the Supermicro SuperServer 8048B-TR4FT he reviewed for a few weeks now. Since the processors were not sent by Supermicro and were lower frequency than the shipping E7 V4, we are not going to publish results at this time. He has been breaking his own benchmark results handily with the new V4 silicon.

Supermicro SuperServer 8048B-TR4FT - Lid Off
Supermicro SuperServer 8048B-TR4FT – Lid Off

With these platforms, we simply needed an updated BIOS to allow us to install the new CPUs.

SuperServer 8048B-TR4FT - CPUs Installed
SuperServer 8048B-TR4FT – CPUs Installed

Supermicro also has a new 8-way server CPU design available.

We also saw the Tyan FT76-B7922 system (from Supercomputing 2015) in their private suite at Computex as well:

Tyan FT76-B7922
Tyan FT76-B7922

The Tyan FT76-B7922 can support up to 96 DIMMs using 8x memory risers and has 10Gb Ethernet built-in.

Other vendors such as HPE we expect to update their HPE DL580 Gen 9 to support the new processors:

HPE DL580 Gen9
HPE DL580 Gen9

Dell also informed us that they are updating the Dell PowerEdge R930 Generation 13 servers to utilize the new Intel Xeon E7 V4 processors.

Dell PowerEdge R930
Dell PowerEdge R930

Final Words

Overall this release is fairly straightforward One can use the same platforms, with a BIOS update, and add more cores and RAM per socket. For systems that need to scale up instead of scale out, the Intel E7 V4 is going to be an evolution in the platform. Do check out our Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4 for Broadwell details and Intel Xeon E7 V3 piece for more on the platform and features like Intel Run Sure.

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