Bulldozers at Knights Corner; duelling server chips

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2011 - 09:36 AM |
Tagged: xeon e5, xeon, servers, opteron, knights ferry, knights corner, interlagos, hp, dell, bulldozer, acer

As you would expect, no sooner does AMD release news on its new line of Bulldozer era Opterons, Intel follows suit with news on their next generation of server chips.  AMD hit the news and the server room first thanks to interest shown by Dell, HP and Acer.   These vendors have based a series of 2U servers on AMD's new chip as well as a family of blade servers.  Dell's Poweredge C6145 was probably the most ambitious, with 4 sockets you can have 128 cores and 1TB of DDR3 in a 2U rack mount server and FusionIO was suggesting the inclusion of their 1.2TB Iodrive Duo card to ensure your storage media can keep up.

Intel also spoke with The Inquirer and other news sites about their new Xeon E5 processor family as well as providing more information about Knights Bridge. Intel has reached out to a different set of clients for the new Xeon, focusing on NVIDIA's latest target market of High Performance Computing (that HPC acronym you see hanging around Fermi).  They tout over 10,000 chips sold, some of which are sitting pretty in the TOP500.  Also on display was their Knights Ferry accelerator board, again targeted for the HPC crowd that NVIDIA has been courting.

So this processor generation we have Intel and NVIDIA fighting it out for HPC customers, while AMD seems to be without major competition in high density computing, although ARM has certainly been making inroads into that market.  

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"AMD's partners have shown a small but impressive array of Bulldozer Opteron kit. Dell's 2U eight socket beast was arguably the most impressive of the lot on show in Munich, but AMD will know it needs more than just one vendor in its fight against Intel. Thankfully it has the might of HP also showing that its traditional rackmount and blade servers can make use of AMD's Bulldozer silicon."

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Source: The Register

EVGA Shows Off Drool Worthy Dual Xeon Sandy Bridge-E SR3 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 21, 2011 - 10:46 AM |
Tagged: xeon, x79, SB-E, sandy bridge-e, motherboard, Intel, evga

Jacob Freeman of EVGA Google + fame recently posted a teaser photo of a certain shiny piece of X79 chipset baked silicon in the form of a new SR3 Super Record series motherboard. This monster of a board is packed to the brim with features, and mid tower cases need not apply.

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Starting at the top of the board and working our way down, we are presented with not one but two socket 2011 Sandy Bridge-E Xeon processor sockets! One processor will have access to eight DDR3 DIMM slots while the other will have access to four DDR3 DIMM slots.  While the RAM configuration may seem odd, EVGA wanted to make the transition from the boards SR2 predecesor as easy as possible, by allowing users to transfer all 12, triple channel DIMMs to the new SR3 motherboard.  When all 12 RAM slots are populated, the board will run in triple channel mode, and when four or eight slots are populated, the motherboard will utilize the new quad channel interface.  The RAM will be fed power via a eight phase PWM (pulse width modulation) circuitry. The board also features two eight pin EPS and two six pin PCI-E connectors, and seven PCI-E 3.0 slots that are all capable of running at least PCI-E 3.0 x8 and four of them are capable of providing PCI-E 3.0 x16 bandwidth, more than enough for even the beefiest SLI setup.

On the storage and IO front, the SR3 motherboard has 14 SATA ports, HD Audio via six 3.5mm jacks, USB 3.0 ports (the total amount is unclear), and eSATA support.  The bottom right corner of the board lies a handy diagnostic screen to report error codes.  Further, the motherboard will come with the new UEFI BIOS.  Mr. Freeman states that the x79 motherboard is fully furnished with solid state capacitors from Sanyo (specifically POSCAP).

In short, this motherboard is a total beast. Please excuse me as I try to remove my jaw from the floor cartoon style.

Source: EVGA

Shrinking the Xeon with Westmere-EX

Subject: Processors | May 25, 2011 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: xeon, server, xeon x7, x7 4870, Intel

 AnandTech got their hands on four of the the brand new 32nm Intel Xeon X7 4870, 10 cores clocked to 2.4GHz; perhaps a delayed 'Tick" but a tick nonetheless.  Not only did they test the new chips they also had a chance to test it with Load Reduced DIMMs (LR-DIMM) as opposed to the old Fully Buffered style (FB-DIMMs) we were used to in days gone by.  That spells higher capacity which is good considering the testbed they used can support up to 2TB of RAM to keep the 4 CPUs fed.  This is a high end server part, not really competeing against AMD as a similar Opteron system would cost about 1/2 as much with performance reduced about the same as well.  Check out this beast, but keep in mind a single CPU will set you back more than you paid for your whole system.

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"Only one year later, Intel is upgrading the top Xeon by introducing Westmere-EX. Shrinking Intel's largest Xeon to 32nm allows it to be clocked slightly higher, get two extra cores, and add 6MB L3 cache. At the same time the chip is quite a bit smaller, which makes it cheaper to produce. Unfortunately, the customer does not really benefit from that fact, as the top Xeon became more expensive. Anyway, the Nehalem-EX was a popular chip, so it is no surprise that the improved version has persuaded 19 vendors to produce 60 different designs, ranging from two up to 256 sockets."

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Source: AnandTech

Xeon powered 2U server room beauty

Subject: Systems | April 25, 2011 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: xeon, octocore, nehalem, 8 core

 When The Tech Report were asked to review the new Dell R810 2U server they jumped at the chance.  Inside lies dual octocore Xeon X7560s, 128GB of DDR3  (of a maximum 500GB), four SAS 6Gbps drives (which they swapped for Vertex EX SSDs) and a pair of 1100W PSUs.  It is impressive to see all that shoved into a 2U rack but Dell went further with internal SD card readers for easy HyperVisor use, external LCDs to display realtime hardware and software data and a casing much more attractive that you usually see in a server room.  The performance compared to a dual X5670 system varied so you should probably read the review before you go spending $23,000 on the server.

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"Intel's eight-core Nehalem-EX processor and Dell's R810 chassis combine to form a new class of 2P server, with huge memory capacity at a lower price point."

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