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  1. 1. WHITE PAPER IBM® SYSTEM X M4 SERVERS DELIVER COMPELLING PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY custom consulting services March 2012PREPARED FOR IBM Executive Summary Dual-socket servers that use Intel® Xeon® processors have become the most widely used servers due to their outstanding performance, large memory capacity, and excellent performance per watt. They are commonly found throughout the datacenter runningTABLE OF CONTENTS applications such as virtualization, web infrastructure, databases, general office applications, and high-performance computing (HPC). In March 2012, Intel performed a major redesignExecutive Summary ............................ 1 update on these processors, launching the Intel Xeon E5-2600 product family and C600 chipset. These processors feature a number of new and innovative improvements that help toIntroduction ........................................ 1 deliver improved performance, bandwidth, and energy efficiency.Intel Xeon Processor E5-2600 IBM leverages these Intel platform improvements in its new System x M4 servers, the x3550Product Family Platform ..................... 2 M4, x3650 M4, and x3500 M4. These servers not only have outstanding performance andHow IBM Is Leveraging This New energy efficiency, but they also feature advanced manageability and resiliency features. A wideTechnology with the M4 Servers ........ 4 range of storage options are available as well, including both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard disk drives, and 1.8-inch solid-state drives (SSDs). IBM’s Feature on Demand allows customers toIBM System x M4 Performance customize and upgrade the servers as business needs change and evolve.and Environmentals ............................ 5 The performance and energy efficiency of these new M4 servers make this generation aThe IDEAS Bottom Line ...................... 7 compelling choice for those who have older servers in their datacenters. Performance has improved over 10x compared to servers purchased just six years ago, and energy efficiency has improved 5x over the last four generations. 1 As a result, Ideas International (IDEAS) recommends that all datacenter managers reassess their installed servers and replace all servers using Intel Xeon 5500 or older processors with new M4 servers. This server upgrade will not only bring the datacenter up to date, but it will also save money through better energy efficiency and reduced management complexity due to server sprawl. Introduction Dual-socket x86 servers running Intel Xeon processors are the most widely sold servers – for good reason. Over the past five years, the processor performance and memory capacity of these servers have increased to the point where dual-socket servers can now handle a majority of business workloads. Dual-socket servers require less power, generate less heat, offer better price/performance ratios, and take up less space than larger four- and eight-socket servers. As a result, IT departments worldwide have standardized on dual-socket servers for such diverse purposes as virtualization, server consolidation, web infrastructure, databases, general office applications, and HPC. In March 2012, Intel released the Intel Xeon E5-2600 product family (“Sandy Bridge-EP”) and Intel C600 series chipset (“Patsburg”). The Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family is a 1 Intel Xeon 5400, 5500, 5600, and E5-2600.This document is copyrighted © by Ideas International, Inc. (IDEAS) and is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and conventions. This document may not be copied, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted inany form, posted on a public or private website or bulletin board, or sublicensed to a third party without the written consent of IDEAS. No copyright may be obscured or removed from the paper. All trademarks and registered marks ofproducts and companies referred to in this paper are protected.This document was developed on the basis of information and sources believed to be reliable. This document is to be used “as is.” IDEAS makes no guarantees or representations regarding, and shall have no liability for the accuracyof, data, subject matter, quality, or timeliness of the content. The data contained in this document are subject to change. IDEAS accepts no responsibility to inform the reader of changes in the data. In addition, IDEAS may change itsview of the products, services, and companies described in this document.IDEAS accepts no responsibility for decisions made on the basis of information contained herein, nor from the reader’s attempts to duplicate performance results or other outcomes. Nor can the paper be used to predict future values orperformance levels. This document may not be used to create an endorsement for products and services discussed in the paper or for other products and services offered by the vendors discussed.
  2. 2. IBM® SYSTEM X M4 SERVERS DELIVER COMPELLING PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY MARCH 2012 new microarchitecture built using the same 32 nm process as the prior-generation XeonThis new Intel platform has processor 5600 series. The new release features a number of enhancements that help deliver more efficiency, more intelligence, more security, and more options. These E5-2600 processorsfeatures and capabilities that are available immediately in IBM’s most popular dual-socket servers, the x3650 M4, x3550 M4,make it more efficient, more and x3500 M4.intelligent, and more secure, E5-2600 represents Intel’s major dual-socket microprocessor announcement for 2012. Becauseall while delivering extreme this generation is a new microarchitecture, E5-2600 delivers features such as a higher core count, greater memory bandwidth, and advanced power management. The result is aflexibility and value to the processor that delivers a substantial performance boost while reducing power consumption.customer. These processors help IBM’s new M4 servers deliver compelling benefits, especially for those using older generations of servers. Intel Xeon Processor E5-2600 Product Family Platform IBM believes that more than half of new server purchases will be virtualized, and most will be used in environments where power, cooling, and/or space are limited. To meet the stringent and varied needs of these clients, Intel needed to develop a platform that exhibits an extreme degree of flexibility, and the platform based on the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family (“Romley-EP”) is an evolutionary improvement in Intel technology that delivers on these needs. This new Intel platform has features and capabilities that make it more efficient, more intelligent, and more secure, all while delivering extreme flexibility and value to the customer. Table 1. New Features in the Intel Xeon Processor E5-2600 Product Family Platform Feature Benefit Up to eight cores with two threads per core Stronger performance on multithreaded applications Higher memory capacity and bandwidth Higher application performance; in-memory databases Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 More bins of turbo upside than the previous generation; higher application performance Two QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) links per Greater bandwidth between the two processors processor Data Direct I/O smart caching Higher bandwidth between the processors and PCI Express connected devices Integrated PCI Express 3.0 Significantly higher I/O bandwidth, lower latency, and reduced energy consumption C600 “ring bus” Lower latency between the cores and I/O; lower L3 cache latency; increased L3-to-core bandwidth Advanced Vector Extension (AVX) instructions Stronger floating-point and vector performance Intelligent Power Technology Higher performance with reduced energy consumption The new E5-2600 processors have up to eight cores and 20 MB of cache with two threads per core. In contrast, the prior-generation processors supported up to six cores and 12 MB of cache. The new processors fit into the LGA-2011 Socket R, which will support quad-channel memory with up to three DIMMs per slot. The result is up to 768 GB of DDR3 memory using 24 x 32 GB LRDIMMs, versus a maximum of 288 GB in the last generation Tylersburg-EP platform. Interprocessor communication is also improved with a doubling of QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) links between processors, delivering up to 8 GT/s of bandwidth per link versus 6.4 GT/s for the past generation.2 WHITE PAPER | © 2012 IDEAS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
  3. 3. MARCH 2012 IBM® SYSTEM X M4 SERVERS DELIVER COMPELLING PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY For I/O, Intel has done away with the separate I/O hub and now integrates PCI Express 3.0 I/OIntel is clearly targeting this into the processor itself. In addition to PCI Express 3.0, lane count has been increased from 36 per socket to 40. PCI Express 3.0’s theoretical maximum bandwidth is now 8 GT/s, which isnew platform for applications double PCI Express 2.0’s bandwidth. With this E5-2600 generation, Intel is introducing a newthat require outstanding feature called Data Direct I/O that helps to optimize I/O data transfers within both a local CPU socket and a PCI Express connected device. When this Data Direct I/O smart caching isperformance combined with combined with the higher lane count and doubled bandwidth of PCI Express 3.0, the result islarge memory capacity and significantly higher I/O performance with lower latencies and reduced power consumption.bandwidth in a dual-socket If Intel had stopped with these improvements, the result would have been a very impressiveserver. next-generation processor. But Intel reached deeper into its vast R&D department to bring out even more technological breakthroughs. One of the more notable innovations is the E5-2600 “ring bus,” which helps data move seamlessly among the eight cores, the memory controller, the QPI ports, and the PCI Express lanes. As the core count increases, bandwidth becomes an ever-increasing problem, and the ring bus architecture, which was introduced with the E7 processor family, is an innovative solution. According to Intel’s internal tests against the older Xeon 5500/5600, the ring bus lowers L3 cache latency by up to 20% and increases L3-to-core bandwidth by up to 8x. 2 Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology has also been enhanced. As in previous generations of processors, Turbo Boost opportunistically helps to maximize the performance of single- and multithreaded applications by boosting the CPU’s clock rate temporarily to handle the load. Turbo Boost can only kick in when the core count, power consumption, current, and processor temperature are all below their limits. But residency in turbo mode is limited because it generates heat much more quickly. Once one of the four limits is reached, turbo mode throttles back the clock. With Turbo Boost 2.0, Intel has added additional intelligence that helps Turbo Boost manage both the power and the thermal headroom to keep the turbo mode engaged for longer periods of time, and it is smart enough to not engage when memory and I/O are bottlenecks. The end result is that the turbo kicks in more often and remains there longer. For those who run HPC applications that count on floating-point and vector performance, Intel has introduced the Advanced Vector Extension (AVX) instructions. AVX is a new 256-bit instruction set extension to Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE) that delivers up to 2x the peak FLOPS output for only a small increase in power. Applications such as audio/video processing, scientific modeling and simulation, and financial analysis will all benefit from these new AVX instructions. Intel’s Intelligent Power Technology also significantly improves with this release. In the prior generation, Intelligent Power Technology used intelligent power gates to reduce idling core power consumption by nearly 50%. 3 These gates can be controlled either manually or through automated settings. With E5-2600, Intel adds Network Power Management Technology and Power Tuning Technology. The latter uses a larger network of sensors to deliver fine-grained power control across CPUs, memory, and QPI subsystems. The technology now manages both power and thermal headroom versus just thermal headroom in the prior release. Power control can be accomplished based on OS, BIOS, or sensor inputs. Network Power Management for E5-2600 adds additional intelligence by linking the power state to the I/O. Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE) lowers power states during periods of low link utilization, decreasing NIC power consumption by up to 50%. 4 Direct Memory Access (DMA) coalescing aligns NIC interruptions 2 Source: Intel Corp. 3 Source: Intel Corp. 4 Source: Intel Corp.WHITE PAPER | © 2012 IDEAS INTERNATIONAL, INC. 3
  4. 4. IBM® SYSTEM X M4 SERVERS DELIVER COMPELLING PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY MARCH 2012 so that CPU and other system components can stay in lower power states longer. According toIBM is rolling out the new Intel, DMA coalescing helps to deliver up to 20% overall system power savings. 5Intel E5-2600 product family Intel is clearly targeting this new platform for applications that require outstanding performanceplatform across all its dual- combined with large memory capacity and bandwidth in a dual-socket server.processor Xeon server How IBM Is Leveraging This New Technology with the M4 Serversproduct lines, including the IBM is rolling out the new Intel E5-2600 product family platform across all its dual-processorx3500, x3550, and x3650. Xeon server product lines, including the x3500, x3550, and x3650. These are some of IBM’sThese are some of IBM’s best-selling servers because they deliver outstanding performance and energy efficiency for mission-critical applications at an excellent price point. Many of IBM’s customers rely on thesebest-selling servers because dual-socket servers to run their core business operations. IBM’s new M4 servers include thethey deliver outstanding following:performance and energy » The x3650 M4 is the flagship of IBM’s rack server lineup. With support for up to 16 high- performance, hot-swappable 2.5-inch hard disk drives (or 6 x 3.5-inch drives, or 32 x 1.8-efficiency for mission-critical inch SSDs) and four to six PCI Express Gen 3.0 I/O slots in an energy efficient 2U chassis,applications at an excellent the x3650 M4 is well positioned to handle cloud computing, virtualization, databases, Web 2.0, file/print, web serving, enterprise business infrastructure, virtual PC consolidation, andprice point. low-end UNIX migration. » The x3550 M4 is similar to the x3650 M4 in that it supports the same processors and memory, but in a 1U rack format. With its smaller size, it only supports eight 2.5-inch drives or three 3.5-inch drives and two PCI Express or PCI-X slots. The x3550 M4 serves the same markets as the x3650 M4. » The x3500 M4 is IBM’s dual-socket tower server that can be converted to a 5U rackmount server. With the same processors and memory as its rack-server cousins, the x3500 M4 delivers similar performance and thermal efficiency. Where it differs is in its much greater expandability and physical size. The x3500 M4 supports up to 32 x 2.5-inch disk drives (8 x 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives are standard), up to seven PCI Express G3.0 slots, and one G2.0 slot (PCI-X slots are optional). The x3500 M4 is ideal for small businesses and branch offices. With up to 32 TB of SAS or SATA capacity, it can also be used as a storage server. For many small and midsize businesses, this server may be the only one they will need to purchase. IBM’s M4 servers are an evolutionary improvement to the prior-generation M3 servers. The M3 servers were very balanced, well-designed servers with great energy efficiency. This new generation adds a number of enhancements over prior generations, including: » Performance – The new Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 product family helps to deliver up to a 10x performance improvement over servers purchased just six years ago. 6 A 270% increase in memory capacity over the last generation 7 ensures that the M4 servers will never run low on memory, even when virtualized, as the x3650 M4, x3550 M4 and x3500 M4 will support an amazing 768 GB. All of that performance needs a way to communicate, and the new PCI Express I/O subsystem helps to deliver. With four or six PCI Express (including double-width PCI Express) or PCI-X slots, the x3650 M4 delivers strong I/O flexibility as well as performance. For those who need them, 10GbE mezzanine cards are available and InfiniBand cards will be available soon. » Energy efficiency – The Intel Xeon E5-2600 product family platform delivers outstanding energy efficiency over previous generations. The efficiency of servers employing this new Intel platform is especially compelling when compared to servers with processors that are 5 Source: Intel Corp. 6 Source: IBM internal testing and industry standard benchmark results. See Figure 1. 7 Source: Intel Corp.4 WHITE PAPER | © 2012 IDEAS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
  5. 5. MARCH 2012 IBM® SYSTEM X M4 SERVERS DELIVER COMPELLING PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY multiple generations old. IBM has taken its commitment to energy efficiency even further withWith IBM System x servers 80 PLUS Platinum (95% efficient) power supplies, SSDs, and full ENERGY STAR certification.using E5-2600 processors, » Manageability – The second-generation Integrated Management Module (IMMv2), which isusers will see performance common across all IBM x86 servers, delivers all of the functionality of a BMC/RSA-II, plus itimprovements, particularly adds an integrated video controller, a remote presence/cKVM function, Super I/O, and a new mobile interface. IBM was the first in the industry to support the initial IMM specification, andin multithreaded HPC and it is clearly the first to support the new specification. For overall management, IBM’s Systemsvector computation applica- Director and its plug-ins make it easy to deploy, integrate, service, and manage the new M4 servers.tions, such as fluid dynamics » Resiliency – Things can go wrong with any server, and IBM has built in a number ofsimulations and crash capabilities to ensure that server component failures do not impact service delivery. As expected, all fans and power supplies are hot-swappable. But IBM goes beyond that withanalysis. Predictive Failure Analysis (PFA), which is designed to predict component failures before they occur. When a pending failure is detected, PFA turns on the Light-Path Diagnostics, and a series of LEDs throughout the server helps to identify the actual component that needs attention. IBM servers are also tool-less, so hunting for a screwdriver has become a thing of the past. » Feature on Demand – IBM believes that customers should be able to purchase what they need when they need it. When requirements change, servers need to change to meet those new requirements. That is why IBM designed in Feature on Demand for processors, memory, disk drives, NIC cards, and advanced slotless RAID controllers with battery-backed cache. » Flexibility – These new servers support both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, giving customers a choice for storage. The x3650 M4 also supports 1.8-inch SSDs. All PCI Express slots are designed to fit different-length NIC cards. Finally, all servers have four GigE ports and two optional 10GbE ports through a mezzanine card (no PCI Express slot required). IBM System x M4 Performance and Environmentals Figure 1 (next page) shows a comparison of performance data for the IBM System x3650 M4 (with the new Xeon E5-2600 processors) with performance data for the last five generations of the server. The graph has been normalized to show the performance of the x3650 with the Xeon 5100 series processors as one for a baseline. Although this graph uses the x3650 as an example, servers from any vendor with the same processors should perform similarly. What the graph shows is that customers who purchased servers just six years ago (2006) should see a 10x performance improvement by upgrading to a new IBM server with E5-2600 processors. Customers whose servers are coming up to the end of a five-year lease can expect a 5x-7x performance improvement. Even those who purchased their servers just three years ago should see almost a doubling in performance. That doesn’t even count the improvements in energy efficiency over the older generations.WHITE PAPER | © 2012 IDEAS INTERNATIONAL, INC. 5
  6. 6. IBM® SYSTEM X M4 SERVERS DELIVER COMPELLING PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY MARCH 2012 Figure 1. x3650 Relative Performance by GenerationFigure 2 shows the perfor- 14.00mance per watt for the last SPEC CPU2006 Integer SPEC CPU2006 FloatingPoint TPC-C SAP SD 2-Tier SPECjbb2005 12.00four generations of Systemx3650, including the new M4 10.00version. The Xeon E5-2600 8.00processors show a roughly 6.005x improvement over serverssold just four years ago. 4.00 2.00 0.00 x3650 x3650 x3650 x3650 M2 x3650 M3 x3650 M4 (Xeon 5100) - (Xeon 5300) - (Xeon 5400) - (Xeon 5500) - (Xeon 5600) - (Xeon E5-2600) - 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2012 Source: Benchmarks retrieved from IDEAS Competitive Profiles as of March 2012, based on results from,, and The x3650 M4 data is from IBM internal testing. With IBM System x servers using E5-2600 processors, users will see performance improvements, particularly in multithreaded HPC and vector computation applications, such as fluid dynamics simulations and crash analysis. The improved memory and I/O bandwidth will also translate to significant gains in the number of virtual machines that servers can support as a virtualization host, and the number of users that can be supported in CRM and ad-hoc decision support database applications. Figure 2 shows the performance per watt for the last four generations of System x3650, including the new M4 version. The Xeon E5-2600 processors show a roughly 5x improvement over servers sold just four years ago. Intel has made steady improvements in energy efficiency in the last four years, rendering many older servers obsolete. Figure 2. x3650 IBM Server Performance per Watt by Generation 5000 SPECPower (Estimated for 2012) 4000 3000 2000 1000 0 x3650 (Xeon 5400) x3650 M2 (Xeon 5500) x3650 M3 (Xeon 5600) M4 (Xeon E5-2600) 2008 2009 2010 2012 Source: Published SPECpower_ssj2008 results from as of March 2012. The x3650 M4 data is from IBM internal testing.6 WHITE PAPER | © 2012 IDEAS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
  7. 7. MARCH 2012 IBM® SYSTEM X M4 SERVERS DELIVER COMPELLING PERFORMANCE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCYAbout Ideas International The IDEAS Bottom LineIdeas International Limited (IDEAS, The M4 generation of IBM’s System x servers featuring Intel’s E5-2600 processors bringsASX:IDE) is the leading global supplier of compelling benefits to datacenters, even where existing servers are a just few generations old.comparative intelligence on enterprise IT Processor technology has progressed rapidly in the last five years. Not only has theinfrastructure. Servicing both IT vendors performance of processors improved dramatically, but energy efficiency has also made a sharpand large-scale IT users, IDEAS products leap as well. This study has shown that performance has improved close to 10x over serversfocus on: servers; storage; virtualization sold just six years ago and that power consumption per unit of performance has dropped overand consolidation; and software and 5x in the last four years. 8 Memory capacity has increased as well, with each generation ofinfrastructure services. IDEAS online server supporting considerably more memory than the last.products are backed up by expert industryanalysts who can also deliver specialized What this means is that IT managers should reassess all of the servers they currently have inadvisory and consulting services. their datacenters. With the large number of processor cores, high memory capacity, and large storage capacity of the new IBM M4 servers, large groups of these older servers can beFor more information about Ideas consolidated onto a few, very energy-efficient new servers. IDEAS suggests that all serversInternational, please visit: with Intel Xeon 5500 and earlier processors be targeted for replacement, and that servers with Xeon 5600 processors be seriously considered for replacement. Older servers may be paid for, but they can also be quietly costing money through excessive energy usage, management complexity, downtime, and server sprawl. Don’t let your precious IT dollars slip away.AmericasIdeas International, Inc.800 Westchester AvenueSuite N337Rye Brook, NY 10573-1354USATel + 1 914 937 4302Fax +1 914 937 2485Asia/PacificIdeas International LimitedLevel 320 George StreetHornsby, NSW, 2077AustraliaTel +61 2 9472 7777Fax +61 2 9472 7788Europe, Middle East, AfricaIdeas International EuropeMilton Park Innovation Centre99 Milton ParkAbingdon, Oxon OX14 4RYUnited KingdomTel + 44 (0) 1235 841 510Fax + 44 (0) 1235 841 511actionable 8 Source: IBM internal testing and industry standard benchmark results. XSL03046-USEN-00WHITE PAPER | © 2012 IDEAS INTERNATIONAL, INC. 7