November 12, 2013

Dell Measures ‘Ivy Bridge’ Server’s Performance Edge

Tiffany Trader
Dell PowerEdge R620

Since Intel introduced its Xeon Processor E5-2600 v2 product family (code named “Ivy Bridge-EP”) in September, system makers, application specialists and other end users have been interested in how the new parts stack up to previous-generation “Sandy Bridge” processors for a variety of HPC workloads.

In the parlance of Intel’s tick-tock development scheme, Sandy Bridge was the “tock,” a new microarchitecture, while Ivy Bridge was the “tick” – a shrinking of process technology (from 32nm to 22nm) that extracts more efficiency and computing density from the platform. Intel has stated that the new server chips, which pack up to 12 cores and 24 threads, reduce power consumption by as much as 45 percent and deliver up to 50 percent more performance across a variety of workloads.

For those seeking additional information about the actual performance benefits of the “Ivy Bridge” Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 series processors over the “Sandy Bridge” Intel Xeon E5-2600 series processors, a report from Dell offers some valuable insight.

Published on Dell’s blog page and authored by Dell systems engineers Ranga Balimidi, Ishan Singh and Rafi Ikbal, the report compares the performance of the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 processors against the previous E5-2600 series processors across four HPC applications: LINPACK, STREAM, NAS Parallel Benchmarks (NPB), and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model.

To test single-node performance, two PowerEdge R620 servers were commandeered, one outfitted with a dual 8-core E5-2665 processor and the other with a dual 12-core E5-2695 processor. To maintain consistency, the processors were of the same frequency and wattage.

Processor specs:

  • Dual Intel Xeon E5 2665 2.4GHz, 8 cores, 115 Watts
  • Dual Intel Xeon E5 2695 v2 2.4GHz, 12 cores, 115 Watts

Dell Intel SB versus IB comparison single node

The dual-node tests were performed on two-node clusters connected back-to-back with InfiniBand FDR. To enable the 32-core cluster comparisons, the Intel Xeon E5-2600 V2-based cluster was brought from 48 to 32 cores by turning off four cores per processor for the relevant tests (plotted below as IVB-32c). The same technique was used to reduce 24 Ivy Bridge cores to 16 cores for the single node performance testing (plotted above as IVB-16c-xxxx).

Dell Intel SB versus IB comparison dual node

In the final analysis, the “Ivy Bridge”-based cluster delivered a significant performance boost over the otherwise-identically outfitted “Sandy Bridge” based cluster. The report’s authors linked improvements to the “increase in number of cores, Larger L3 cache and dual memory controller.” Embarrassingly parallel applications like NPB-EP did especially well.

Dell recently updated its 12th generation PowerEdge server line with the Intel Xeon E5-2600 v2 series processors. Dell PowerEdge R620, R720, M620, C6220 II, C8220 and C8220x platforms are all supported with the latest firmware and BIOS updates.

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