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Intel Haswell-EP Xeon E5-2600 v3 Server Family Processor Overview

By: William Harmon | Editorials in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Sep 8, 2014 12:30 pm

Power Consumption


We have upgraded our power testing equipment, and now use a Yokogawa WT310 power meter for testing. The Yokogawa WT310 feeds its data through a USB cable to another machine where we can capture the test results.


To test total system power use, we used AIDA64 Stability test to load the CPU, and then recorded the results. Also, we now add in the power use for a server from off state, up to the point of hitting the power button to turn it on, and taking it all the way to the desktop. This gives us data on power consumption during the boot up process.




This is our basic power test that we use on all our motherboard and systems tests. Factors that effect this test are the amount of RAM installed and the number of onboard options such as storage controllers or network adapters.


We do notice that the Haswell-EP system has a much lower power use running at idle with the new E5 v3 processors. Power scaling over the list of processors has steadily gone down over the years, and now we see a dual socket system using ~100watts at idle, in comparison to 150watts with last gen E5 v2s. The E5-2697 v2 seems to be in a good spot as far as max load power use, but falls off a great deal when it drops back to idle. We will have to get a larger sampling of motherboards to get a feel for how the E5 v3s behave with power use.



Final Thoughts




Clearly, the biggest advantage of the new Haswell-EP processors is the increased number of cores. We think that in itself is a huge benefit to many systems that are in use today.


Adding a large number of cores to a package also creates core communication problems. The new On-Die Interconnects create simplified paths for data to travel from one core to another. Going from core 18 to core one and moving data from memory now takes a shorter path through buffered bi-directional interconnects. This lowers latency, improves response time, and increases performance for applications.


In our testing, we see very good scaling with the added cores that the E5 v3s provide. Turning on hyper-threading does not always scale as we would like to see. Some benchmarks run better with HT off and forcing the number of threads before the run. This is not something new though; many applications used in the enterprise area prefer HT turned off, as it does add a small amount of latency.


We also looked at how the new Turbo Boost performs. It does appear to kick in faster here than on the E5 v2's, and overall, it gives good results. The new Per-Core P-States (PCPS) also help to reduce power consumption a great deal. The effects of these features lowered power use to just over 100watts on some systems we tested, which is impressive for a dual socket system. In the data center, power consumption can be a real issue, now the new E5 v3 processors and DDR4 can help to lower power use.


What we think will really benefits data centers are the new features for handling VM environments. Intel has taken big steps to make VMs easier to manage, and reduce the effects of "noisy neighbors."


We were up at Intel Jones Farm in Oregon last month, and watched a demo showing how this works. The demo machine had something in the order of 12 VMs running. When one VM became very heavily loaded, you could see performance degrade across the rest of the VMs. The new features like Cache Monitoring (Cache QoS), detected this, and at that point the aggressor VM was given its own cache partition and performance was restored.


The new DDR4 memory also has a big impact on system performance. We can now install DIMMs with larger capacity in less slots. This helps to keep RAM speeds higher, as we do not need to spread the RAM out into smaller capacity DIMMs. Even with a max RAM, load out speed is still double what it was with DDR3.


Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), now updated with the new AVX2, show a huge boost to floating point bandwidth. We see close to double the bandwidth in our Linpack tests. With the growing amount of encrypted and compressed data, AVX2 shows good results in speeding these processes up. Not everything is all nice and shiny with E5-v3 processors though. In August 2014, Intel announced a bug in the TSX implementation on Haswell and early Broadwell CPUs, which resulted in disabling the TSX feature on affected CPUs via a microcode update.


Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX) is an extension to the x86 instruction set architecture that adds hardware transactional memory support, speeding up execution of multi-threaded software through Hardware Lock Elision (HLE). Intel stated that this instruction would not have a big impact on current code, but plans to update silicon in the next processor stepping, but gives no eta on this fix.


Overall, we can see big performance boosts with the new Haswell-EP processors. Intel has addressed many problems with power use, multi-core processing, and VM applications. The new systems offer much needed performance improvements for today's heavy VM environments.

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