Latest Dell PowerEdge Server Doubles Performance Behind AMD's 16-Core Opteron Chip


Dell PowerEdge r815



Dell on Tuesday will begin shipping the four-socket PowerEdge R815 servers with a new processor -- the Opteron 6200, formerly code-named Interlagos -- AMD's latest (and the world's first) 16-core x86 server chip. The CRN Test Center received a review unit in advance of the release, and Dell's latest 2U PowerEdge did not disappoint.

Systems builders will be pleased to learn that the new 6200 series, including five distinct 16-core models, will operate in the same G34 socket as the so-called Magny Cours 6100 12-core series. All that's needed to upgrade to the new processor is simply to update the BIOS, swap processors and reboot. The new chip, which is available in speeds from 1.6 GHz to 2.6GHz, also now supports 1600 MHz memory thanks to an all-new memory processor.

The test unit arrived with its all four sockets populated with Opteron 6274, AMD's 2.2 GHz, 115 watt model, which carries 16 MB of L2 cache, and an equal amount of L3 cache. Also on board were six 73 GB, 15 K SAS drives configured as RAID 5 and controlled by an integrated PERC H700 RAID controller, 128 GB of 1600 MHz, DDR3 dual-ranked memory and Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise. To test the unit, we installed Geekbench 2.2.0, the latest version of the Primate Labs benchmark.

The unit's high overall score was 20,422, more than double the high score (9,695) of the same machine with four 12-core AMD 6100 processors (48 cores total) and 64B of memory (only 32GB of which was addressable by Windows). In other words, the PowerEdge R815 as configured with 50 percent more processor cores more than doubled its previous Geekbench score.

Even right out of the box, the 64-core R815 broke 20,000 on Geekbench, one only two machines ever to score that high. Testers maximized performance by disabling all Windows Action Center notifications and auto-updates, and configuring Windows advanced settings for maximum performance. With a score greater than 20,000, the R815 stands in second place on the CRN Test Center's all-time list of best performers, right behind the Dell PowerEdge C6145 with a score of 22,607.

Dell Interlagos


Even more impressive was the R815's throughput and ability to process transactions. To gauge I/O transactions (IO/s) and transfer rates (MB/s), testers used Intel’s IOmeter and 100 percent sequential reads of 4KB blocks. IOmeter reported a remarkable 56,500 I/Os per second, blowing away the mark of 9,957 left by last year's R815. the new machine's maximum transfer rate was 221 MBps, against the 37.5 MBps of last year's model.

In terms of power consumption, the PowerEdge kept a lid on it. When under load, the unit drew an average of around 430 watts, and only peaked momentarily at 561. Fan speed (and the server's noise level) varies depending on system load.

As for operating system support, it's helpful to note that the Opteron 6200 16-core chip is actually more like eight dual-core "Bulldozer" chips balled onto a single die. AMD says the 6200 supports all operating systems except Novell SLES 10 and 11, RHEL 4.x, 5.0 through 5.5 (5.6 will run with patches but is not supported by Red Hat), RHEL 6.0, Solaris 10 through 10 u8, VMware ESX 3.5, 4.0 and 4.1u1.

The PowerEdge R815 is a high-performance workhorse, and would be well suited for serving database applications and virtualized environments. As configured, the Dell PowerEdge R815 carries a list price of $12,631, and is a recommended product.