Dell Shifts vRAN into High Gear on PowerEdge with Intel vRAN Boost
Thu, 17 Aug 2023 18:33:05 -0000|
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What has past
Mobile World Congress 2023 was an important event for both Dell Technologies and Intel that marked a true foundational turning point for vRAN viability. At this event, Intel launched its 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor, with Intel vRAN Boost, and Dell announced two new ruggedized server platforms, the PowerEdge XR5610 and XR8000, with support for vRAN Boost CPU SKUs.
The features and capabilities of the PowerEdge XR5610 and XR8000 have been highlighted in previous blogs and both have been available to order since May 2023. These new ruggedized servers have been evaluated and adopted as Cloud RAN reference platforms by NEPs such as Samsung and Ericsson. Short-depth, NEBS certified and TCO-optimized, these servers are purpose-built for the demanding deployment environments of Mobile Operators and are now married to the Intel vRAN Boost processor to provide a powerful and efficient alternative to classical appliance options.
What is now
Starting August 16, 2023, the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor with Intel vRAN Boost is available to order with the PowerEdge XR5610 and XR8000. These two critical pieces of the vRAN puzzle have been brought together and are now available to order from our PowerEdge XR Rugged Servers page with the following CPU SKUs.
|CPU SKU||Cores||Base Freq.||TDP|
Table 1. Intel vRAN Boost SKUs available today from Dell
Additional details on these new CPU SKUs and all 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors can be found on the Intel Ark Site.
These processors, with Intel vRAN Boost, integrate key acceleration blocks for 4G and 5G Radio Layer 1 processing into the CPU. These include:
- 5G Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) encoder/decoder
- 4G Turbo encoder/decoder
- Rate match/dematch
- Hybrid Automatic Repeat
- Request (HARQ) with access to DDR memory for buffer management
- Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) block providing DFT/iDFT for the 5G Sounding Reference Signal (SRS)
- Queue Manager (QMGR)
- DMA subsystem
One of the most interesting features of the vRAN Boost CPU is how this acceleration block is accessed by software. Although it is integrated on-chip with the CPU, the vRAN Boost block still presents itself to the Cores/OS as a PCIe device. The genius of this approach is in software compatibility. Virtual Distributed Unit (vDU) applications written for the previous generation HW will access the new vRAN Boost block using the same standardized, open APIs that were developed for the previous generation product. This creates a platform that can support past, present (and possibly future) generations of Intel’s vRAN optimized HW with the same software image.
What is to come
Prior to vRAN Boost, the reference architecture for vDU was a 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor along with a FEC/LDPC accelerator, such as the Intel vRAN Accelerator ACC100 Adapter, and most today’s vRAN deployments can be found with this configuration. While the ACC100 does meet the L1 acceleration needs of vRAN it does this at a price, in terms of the space of an HHHL PCIe card and at the cost of an additional 54 W of power consumed (and cooled). In addition, using a PCIe interface will further reduce additional I/O expansion options and impact the ability to scale in-chassis due to slot count – both of which are alleviated with vRAN Boost.
With the new Intel vRAN Boost processors’ fully integrated acceleration, Intel has taken a huge step in closing the performance gap with purpose-built hardware, while remaining true to the “Open” in O-RAN.
Intel says that, compared to the previous generation, the new Intel vRAN Boost processor delivers up to 2x capacity and ~ 20% compute power savings compared to its previous generation processor with ACC100 external acceleration. At the Cell Site, where every watt is counted, operators are constantly exploring opportunities to reduce both power consumption and the associated “cooling tax” of keeping the HW in its operational range, typically within a sealed environment.
Dell and Intel have worked together to provide early access Intel vRAN Boost provisioned XR5610s and XR8000s to multiple partners and customers for integration, evaluation, and proof-of-concepts. One early evaluator, Deutsche Telekom, states:
“Deutsche Telekom recently conducted a performance evaluation of Dell’s PowerEdge XR5610 server, based on Intel’s 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor with Intel vRAN Boost. Testing under selected scenarios concluded a 2x capacity gain, using approximately 20% less power versus the previous generation. We aim to leverage these significant performance gains on our journey to vRAN.”
-- Petr Ledl , Vice President of Network Trials and Integration Lab and Access Disaggregation Chief Architect, Deutsche Telekom AG
With such a solid industry foundation of the telecom-optimized PowerEdge XR5610s/XR8000s, and 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with Intel vRAN Boost, expect to see accelerated deployments of open, vRAN-based infrastructure solutions.
Related Blog Posts
Six Years of Tower Servers: Exceptional Database Performance with PowerEdge T560
Thu, 12 Oct 2023 21:43:58 -0000|
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Transformation is an intrinsic part of the technological world, just as seasons transition and leaves change hue during fall. In the six years since the launch of 14th Generation PowerEdge servers, the tower servers have evolved greatly with no shortage of performance gains, feature improvements, and expanding workload capabilities. To demonstrate the magnitude and scope of these improvements, we tested two different workloads across the PowerEdge T440, T550, and T560 towers.
While we primarily discuss database workload testing in this blog, stay tuned for another post covering Artificial Intelligence (AI) inferencing in the coming weeks.
PowerEdge tower upgrades – T440 to T550 to T560
Before we get ahead of ourselves, there are a variety of feature improvements to highlight in the latest tower server--the PowerEdge T560--that make it well-worth the upgrade:
Table 1. PowerEdge T440 vs T550 vs T560 key features
2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors
3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors
4th Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors
Up to 1 DW GPU
Up to 2 DW or 5 SW GPUs
Up to 2 DW or 6 SW GPU
Drives up to:
16 x 2.5” or
8 x 3.5”
8 x 2.5” or
16 x 2.5” or
24 x 2.5” or
8 x 3.5” or
8 x 3.5” + 8 x 2.5”
8 x 2.5’’ or
16 x 2.5’’ or
24 x 2.5’’ or
12 x 3.5’’ or
8 x 3.5’’ or
8 x 3.5’’ + 8 x 2.5’’
DDR4, up to 2666 MT/s DIMM Speed
DDR4, up to 3200 MT/s DIMM Speed
DDR5, up to 4800 MT/S DIMM Speed
PCIe Gen3 slots
PCIe Gen4 slots
PCIe Gen5 slots
As Table 1 illustrates, the T560 is truly a powerhouse, designed to reflect the evolving workload requirements of small to medium businesses from office to edge. Compared to the T550, the T560 has 20% greater GPU capacity. Considering Forrester projects a 36% average annual growth in generative AI spending, this increased GPU capacity is fantastic for businesses looking to pursue emerging AI workloads.
There are also huge benefits associated with the jump from 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Processors in the T440 to 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Processors in the T560, including up to 1.8x greater memory bandwidth. Learn more about memory bandwidth for Next-Gen PowerEdge Servers here. Additionally, PCIe Gen 5 doubles the data transfer rate compared to PCIe Gen 4 and quadruples the transfer rate compared to PCIe Gen 3, described in greater detail here. The T560 also supports the latest PowerEdge RAID Controller 12 (PERC 12), while the T550 only supports PERC 11 and the T440 only supports PERC 9. Read about the performance improvements of PERC 12 here.
And these are just the highlights. Find more information on the technologies powering Next Generation PowerEdge servers here.
Figure 1. From left to right: T440, T550, T560
PowerEdge T560 accelerates database workloads
Throughout the world of small and medium businesses, one use case and attendant application cuts across nearly every enterprise: the Database. PowerEdge tower servers enable businesses to maintain control of vital customer data in a high-speed array of drives, all in your chosen database type. As demonstrated by lab testing, selecting a latest-gen T560 can provide up to 3x the transactions per second (read/write performance) compared to the T440 and 2.6x the transactions per second compared to the T550.
When using a relational database with complex queries and large volumes of data, performance is pivotal. As we all know and have experienced, data often grows exponentially over the course of work and business. The exceptional read/write performance, scalable storage capacity, and easy deployment of the T560 keeps businesses ahead of this deluge of data and its associated headaches.
Testing Details and Results
On all three towers, we ran a Phoronix Test Suite to evaluate database performance with PostgreSQL, an open-source SQL relational database that is popular with small businesses. The testing configurations are listed in the following table. Each system has a Gold-class Intel® Xeon® processor, equal memory capacity, and storage to reflect industry transitions. All testing was conducted in a Dell Technologies lab.
Table 2. Testing Configurations
Intel® Xeon® Gold 5222 4c/8T, TDP 105W
Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N 32c/64T, TDP 185W
Intel® Xeon® Gold 6448Y 32c/64T, TDP 225W
4x 800 GB SAS SSD (RAID 5)
4x 960 GB SAS SSD
4x 1.6TB NVMe
512 GB DDR4
512 GB DDR4
512 GB DDR5
The read/write performance (measured in transactions per second) of the PostgreSQL database workload is shown in Figure 2. These results correspond to the test with 800 clients and a scaling factor of 10,000. Clients essentially represent the number of users, and the scaling factor is a multiplier for the number of rows in each table.
Figure 2. PostgreSQL read/write performance gains compared to PowerEdge T560
As previously discussed, this performance benchmark reveals PowerEdge T560 to be 2.6x faster than the PowerEdge T550 and 3.1x faster than the PowerEdge T440 in PostgreSQL workloads.
We also evaluated memory bandwidth across all three systems using STREAM. This benchmark is used throughout the tech industry to characterize memory bandwidth on many different devices. Synthetic benchmarks can be useful to show the relative performance of new technologies objectively. In the following figure, we report STREAM’s Triad (in GB/s), which is the most complex scenario in the benchmark.
Figure 3. Memory bandwidth gains compared to PowerEdge T560
The PowerEdge T560 is 1.75x faster (in GB/s) than the T550 and 2.7x faster than the T440, both of which have DDR4 memory. These results confirm the massive increase in memory bandwidth with DDR5.
Choosing a server with great headroom for supporting more transactions per second helps future-proof businesses against the performance roadblocks that inevitably arise as data needs grow. With 2.7x faster memory speeds and up to 3x the transactions per second compared to the T440, the PowerEdge T560 delivers both exceptional performance and scalability for data-driven businesses of any size.
While all three towers are prepared for a variety of workloads, the next-gen technologies in the T560 make it a great investment for businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve, especially in terms of database performance. Remember to look out for our next blog which reveals results from two AI inferencing benchmarks--Intel’s OpenVINO and TensorFlow--tested on these same systems.
For now, we’ll leave you with this:
Why did the tower server go apple picking?
To find the core of its processing power!
Don’t worry, we groaned too.
- Forrester Generative AI Report
- Sapphire Rapids and Memory Bandwidth
- PCIe Gen 5 Performance
- Dell PowerEdge RAID Controller 12 (PERC 12) 16th Generation (16G) Server Performance vs PERC 11 & PERC 10 (delltechnologies.com)
- Dell PowerEdge 16G Intel Servers Announced - StorageReview.com
- PostgreSQL pgbench Benchmark - OpenBenchmarking.org
- PostgreSQL: Documentation: 16: pgbench
- STREAM Benchmark
Authors: Olivia Mauger, Jeremy Johnson, Delmar Hernandez | Compute Tech Marketing
 Based on September 2023 Dell Technologies lab testing on PowerEdge T440, T550, and T560. We used a public PostgreSQL benchmark via Phoronix Test Suite.
 Based on September 2023 Dell Technologies lab testing on PowerEdge T440, T550, and T560. We used the public STREAM benchmark via Phoronix Test Suite.
Improving Oracle Performance with New Dell 4 Socket Servers
Mon, 02 Oct 2023 21:23:14 -0000|
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Deploying Oracle on a PowerEdge Server presents various challenges, typical of intricate software and hardware integrations. As servers age, they become increasingly expensive to maintain and can have detrimental effects on business productivity. This is primarily due to the heightened demand for IT personnel's time and the heightened risk of unscheduled downtime.
In the case of older servers hosting virtualized Oracle® Database applications, they might struggle to keep up with growing usage demands. This can result in slower operations that, for example, dissuade customers from browsing a website for products and completing online transactions. Aging hardware is also more susceptible to data loss or corruption, potential security vulnerabilities, and elevated maintenance and repair expenses.
One effective solution to address these issues is migrating Oracle Database workloads from older servers to newer ones, such as the 16th Generation Dell™ PowerEdge™ R960 featuring 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. This upgrade not only mitigates the aforementioned concerns but also opens doors to further IT enhancements and facilitates the achievement of business objectives. It can lead to improved customer responsiveness and quicker time-to-market.
Additionally, transitioning workloads from virtualized environments to bare metal solutions has the potential to significantly enhance transactional database performance, particularly for databases that come with high-performance service-level agreements (SLAs).
We recently submitted one of the new Dell PowerEdge R960’s to Principled Technologies for testing with an Oracle database 19c and compared the results to previous generations. The performance exceeded even our own lofty expectations. As the graph below shows, the R960 was able to process almost 8 times more transactions than the PowerEdge R920 and over double the transactions of the previous generation PowerEdge R940.
For more details read the full report here: Improving Oracle Database performance: Moving to Dell PowerEdge R960 servers with Intel processors | Dell Technologies Info Hub
When refreshing platforms it is critical to consider these performance characteristics and other common top 10 concerns such as:
- Compatibility Issues: Ensuring that the version of Oracle Database you want to deploy is compatible with the specific PowerEdge server hardware, operating system, and other software components can be a significant challenge. Compatibility matrices provided by Oracle and Dell (the manufacturer of PowerEdge servers) need to be thoroughly reviewed.
- Hardware Selection: Selecting the right PowerEdge server model with the appropriate CPU, memory, storage, and networking capabilities to meet the performance and scalability requirements of Oracle can be tricky. Overestimating or underestimating these requirements can lead to performance bottlenecks or wasted resources.
- Operating System Configuration: Configuring the operating system (typically, a Linux distribution like Oracle Linux or Red Hat Enterprise Linux) to meet Oracle's specific requirements can be complex. This includes setting kernel parameters, file system configurations, and installing necessary packages.
- Storage Configuration: Setting up storage correctly is critical for Oracle databases. Customers need to configure RAID levels, partitioning, and file systems optimally. Ensuring high I/O throughput and low latency is essential for database performance.
- Network Configuration: Proper network configuration, including setting up the network stack and configuring firewalls, is important for database security and accessibility.
- Oracle Database Configuration: Configuring Oracle Database itself, including memory allocation, database parameters, and storage management, requires a deep understanding of Oracle's architecture and best practices. Misconfigurations can lead to poor performance and stability issues.
- Backup and Recovery Strategy: Developing a robust backup and recovery strategy is crucial to protect the database against data loss. This includes configuring Oracle Recovery Manager (RMAN) and ensuring that backups are performed regularly and can be restored successfully.
- High Availability and Disaster Recovery: Implementing high availability and disaster recovery solutions, such as Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) or Data Guard, can be complex and requires careful planning and testing.
- Licensing and Compliance: Managing Oracle licenses and ensuring compliance with Oracle's licensing policies can be challenging, especially in virtualized or clustered environments.
- Performance Tuning: Continuously monitoring and tuning the Oracle database and the underlying PowerEdge server to optimize performance can be an ongoing challenge. This includes identifying and addressing performance bottlenecks and ensuring that the hardware is used efficiently.
To address these challenges, it is often advisable for customers to work with experienced system administrators, database administrators, and consultants who have expertise in both Oracle and PowerEdge server deployments. Additionally, staying informed about the latest updates, patches, and best practices from Oracle and Dell can help mitigate potential issues all of which can be found by partnering with Dell Technologies to take advantage of these performance enhancements found within the PowerEdge R960.
Author: Seamus Jones
Director, Server Technical Marketing Engineering