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22 | IT INFRASTRUCTURE | Product Test

Winner in “PassMark 8.0” – Test of the QCT QuantaGrid D52B-1U


QCT provided us with an especially interesting and at the same time high-performance server system for testing ­- the QuantaGrid D52B-1U. Servers in the 19-inch form with only one height unit are a dime a dozen, but the performance data for this system is very powerful and seldom seen.

Authors: Frank-Michael Schlede and Thomas Bär

The Taiwan-based manufacturer Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT) introduced an entire new line of second generation server models in 2017, including the QuantaGrid D52B-1U which we subjected to a thorough examination. The high-quality and solidly manufactured 19-inch computer contains two of the most cutting-edge scalable Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 main processors, each with a base clock speed of 2.5 GHz. If needed, the CPUs can switch to turbo mode and increase the frequency to 3.8 GHz. 28 cores, 56 threads, 38.5 MB level 3 cache, and with a maximum controlled TDP of 165 watts, they are the current state of the art.

More than 7 TB of RAM possible

Each of the processors communicates with the RAM via a 2666 MHz connection using six DDR4 memory channels. The main board of the D52B offers space for a total of 24 RDIMM/ECC memory modules. In theory, this corresponds to maximum memory expansion of 7.68 TB of RAM. However, this has to be addressed from the CPUs. The 8180 Xeons used in the test unit are capable of a maximum of 768 GB per core; in test mode the server offered 190.7 GB of working memory.

The server appeared to be well equipped in other aspects, too. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the front; the back holds the typical VGA connection for server room operation, two additional USB connections, the baseboard management controller (BMC) ethernet connector for the IPMI connection (intelligent platform management interface), and the input connector for the duplicate power supply units. A special feature is an additional slot on the back for a Micro SD memory card. If this type of storage media is in place, the server automatically backs up the BMCs as event log entries and allows the technician or administrator to perform a system analysis without needing to open the actual device.

In terms of the hard drive, the test unit offered four Samsung MZWLL3T2HJMP SSDs, each with 3.2 TB, and an additional 8 drives with 6.4 TB, also from Samsung, but the MZWLL6T4HMLS model. As would be expected of a server in this class, all of the installed 2.5 inch hard drives are fully hot-plug capable. In addition to the version with a total of 12 SSDs, the manufacturer also offers the server with eight traditional SAS/SATA hard disks and four NVMe disk drives each in the 2.5 inch version, or with four 2.5 inch or 3.5 inch SAS/SAGTA/NVMe slots and four optional 9 mm SAS/SATA/NVMe disk drives. QCT has machines in its portfolio with a total of ten different storage versions. Depending on the model, the internal expansion options are differentiated with regard to network cards and OCP mezz cards. From the 1 GbE dual-port in RJ45 copper design to SFP+, fiber in 1/10 GbE to 25-40 GbE in SFP 28, as well as the QSFP version, QCT offers a total of 11 options with single to quad port. Depending on the version, some PCIe plug-in slots in riser cards are kept free for individual upgrade plans.

Seamless Initial Operation

Over the course of the test, we installed VMware ESX 6.5.0 (Build 4564106) from a USB stick without a problem. Within just a few minutes, it was possible to integrate the server into an already existing VMware vSphere 6.5 environment as an additional host. There were no anomalies of any kind in either the installation or the initial operation. On the practical side, this machine doesn’t need any specific installation medium because all device drivers required for operating

VMware are already included as standard.

For the purpose of the test, we initially created a virtual machine with 16 virtual CPU cores and 48 GB of working memory, as well as Microsoft Windows Server 2016 as the operating system. In order to determine performance, we used the established PassMark 8.0; its typical 3D performance testing was of little interest to us at this point. The 22,944 points in the CPU mark were more impressive. Still, the performance was more than double that of an Intel Core i7-3770K with 3.5 GHz. The generous features of the server meant we were able to repeat the test with the assigned 48 virtual CPU cores. The CPU mark increased to an excellent 37,469 points. For the calculation of prime numbers, the test showed a result of 366.4 points. By comparison, an Intel Core2 Duo E8400 with 3 GHz only scored 3.97 points, while the previously-mentioned Intel Core managed i7 33.2 points.

Only the measured RAM performance required the virtualization of its tribute and delivered somewhat weaker results compared with the physical hardware. The behavior of the storage architecture in the test was quite different. From a software point of view, the logical storage design transformed our test machine into two ATA areas, each with 28.89 GB in the form of SATA DOM for receiving operating systems and the four 2.91 TB NVMe areas as well as the eight 5.82 TB NVMe disk areas. Thanks to the flexible overall allocation of the disk drives there is no urgent need to purchase expensive RAID controllers.

From Version 6.5 onwards, VMware ESXi has been able to access virtual machines directly with hardware version 13 and even higher on the NVMe controller. In some ways, this technology represents a special feature because the logical device type specification for non-volatile storage media allows for access from real and virtual hardware. Virtual NVMe devices reduce the I/O overhead in the VM, and above all allow a higher throughput rate for VDI or terminal-server implementations. Even the software-RAID configurations in the VM itself are compatible with Windows Server 2008R2, Windows 7, RHEL 6.5, Ubuntu 13.10, Free BSD 10.1, or Debian 8.0 and higher.

Measured with the CrystalDiskMark 5.1.2 in the x64 version, a TB-sized virtual hard drive on a single NVMe SSD reaches 3.084 MB/S in reading sequential Q32T1 access and an excellent 2.729 MB/s in writing. By comparison, a virtualized Windows Server 2016 on a small PowerEdge server with SATA disks delivers only 175.2 or 111.8 MB/s. A typical 240 SSD on a physical Windows 10 computer, however, reaches 500 to 380 MB/s. The SATA DOM area for the actual operating system installation provides excellent performance values.


More than just performance data

In addition to very good processing and extremely strong performance data, QCT is also impressive in many other areas. Lower energy consumption in stand-by and the optional use of 80-plus titanium power supply units means a reduction of electrical consumption in data centers. Even without the use of measurement devices, the test device makes an impression with quite low noise generation. This is not only a sign of the low power consumption, but also of the advanced thermal cooling system. The tool-free design, including screw-free hard drive slots and PCIe slot designs, will also make the technicians happy. QCT offers cost-based CT System Manager (QSM) for data center management, with integration via the industry standard RESTfuI API and Intel Rack Scale Design (RSD).


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