Test Platforms & How We Test
We know, we know. This is another all-Intel line-up in an enterprise-oriented processor review. That's a natural side effect of the company's ~99.6% market share. Until AMD's EPYC processors become widely available, there really aren't any suitable x86 alternatives. However, we have a nice selection of Ivy Bridge, Haswell, and Broadwell-EP processors to document Intel's steady march of improvements up to the Xeon Platinum 8176.
The Test Platforms
- Intel Purley S2P2Y3Q Server
Intel sent a Server System S2P2SY3Q test platform powered by a dual-socket Intel Server Board 2600WF. Two Xeon Platinum 8176 processors, which feature 28 cores and 56 threads apiece, are complemented by 12 32GB Hynix DDR4-2666 DIMMs. That provides a total of 56C/112T and 432GB of memory. The Software Development Platform includes two redundant 80 PLUS 1100W power supplies. The PSUs, like the fans, are hot-pluggable to avoid downtime issues due to component failure.
- Intel Wildcat Pass S2G3SY1Q Server
We tested the Broadwell-EP-based Xeon E5-2697 v4, the Haswell-EP-based Xeon E5-2699 v3, and the E5-2643 v3 on an Intel Software Development Platform server. The pre-production Grantley-R EP S2G3SY1Q (Wildcat Pass) Broadwell Qualification 2U test bed originally came with two Xeon E5-2697 v4 CPUs with 18 Hyper-Threaded cores and 45MB of shared cache apiece.
The test platform features Intel's C610 chipset family and includes eight 32GB SK hynix DDR4-2400 DIMMs (HMA84GL7AMR4N-UH). Intel provides this server for use as a software development platform; it's not designed for use in a production environment. As such, it lacks some of the features that facilitate redundancy, such as dual PSUs. One of the PSU bays is covered, but the other houses a single 900W power supply.
- Intel Server System R2208GZ4GC
We tested the Ivy Bridge-based (v2) CPUs in Intel's Server System R2208GZ4GC, which features the S2600GZ motherboard (C602 chipset) housed in a production-class chassis with the requisite redundant and hot-swappable fans, along with dual hot-swappable 750W power supplies. We installed 64GB of Kingston DDR3-1600 memory in 8GB modules.
How We Test
We benchmarked the servers with the open source Linux-Bench script, which is available on Linux-Bench.com and GitHub. ServeTheHome and others in the open source community maintain it. The suite runs from an Ubuntu 14.04 LiveCD either on local storage or through a KVM-over-IP connection. The script installs dependencies and runs several well-known independent open source benchmarks that characterize CPU performance.
Most enterprise deployments are built for specific needs and workloads, and as tempting as application testing is, there are far too many variables to make the results applicable to all but a small subset of users. The benchmarks in this article encompass several industry-standard tools that quantify performance trends, but it's noteworthy that optimized deployments could unlock even more performance.
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