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Jul 13 2016

Get Mission-Critical with Third-Generation x64 PRIMEQUEST Servers

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Since 2013, Fujitsu's PRIMEQUEST line of high-end servers has been heralded as the long-awaited product family that will bring UNIX-like performance and reliability to x86 architectures. Three years and numerous benchmark and world records later, the promise still lives on – and has just been refreshed with the latest product generation.

Five years ago in June, Fujitsu's K computer outpaced the world's fastest supercomputers and conquered the No. 1 position on the world-famous TOP500 list. Designed to handle massive data sets and resource-intensive applications, the machine relied on SPARC processors, which had taken on the status of a de facto standard platform for particularly demanding tasks, such as scientific simulations, since they first shipped in the late 1980s. But while it gathered lots of praise, the K computer was also considered an exception, since it was one of only a few dozen systems worldwide that did not employ processors from Intel or AMD and, in fact, one of only two SPARC systems on the entire list. Looking back, this may be seen as an early indicator of the fact that x86-64 processors had successfully started to close the considerable performance gap that existed before. This was particularly good news for enterprise customers, who were now able to move many critical business applications that had previously required SPARC processors and a UNIX operating system to more affordable x86-64/Linux or even x86-64/Windows combinations. At Fujitsu, we seized the opportunity to bring a substantial refresh to our PRIMEQUEST line of high-end servers. SPARC processors on the other hand continue to power ambitious scientific research projects, e.g. in climatology or biophysics, as well as extraordinarily large and competitive OLTP installations or BI projects. That's why Fujitsu invests in both fields to cover all imaginable business and use cases – and give our customers freedom of choice. A little advice on finding the right processor for a given workload can be found on our Face2Fujitsu Global Corporate Blog.

From Haswell to Broadwell: More Cores, Better Performance
Meanwhile, Xeon-based PRIMEQUEST systems are what you could call an established server platform that's not only targeted at, but becoming increasingly popular among financial service providers, telecom carriers, and all types of businesses that operate large-scale databases from either Oracle or SAP. With regard to such a discerning customer base, and with megatrends like Big Data Analytics and IoT well underway, it was time for another major upgrade of our PRIMEQUEST systems, which now build on Intel's Xeon™ E7-8800 v4 series of processors (aka Broadwell-EX) launched in June. Basically, this means that our new, third-generation Intel-based PRIMEQUESTs have more cores, more RAM and better memory protection so as to deliver even better performance and faster speeds than their predecessors. At the same time, they come at fairly reasonable prices.

As before, the refreshed lineup of FUJITSU Server PRIMEQUEST systems consists of three different models that were designed for slightly different tasks and environments:

  • The PRIMEQUEST 2800B3 will accommodate various business-critical usage scenarios, for example server consolidation and all types of programs that rely on high-performance in-memory databases such as business intelligence and analytical tools used in ERP environments. In its maximum configuration, it holds up to 8 Intel® Xeon® 8890 v4 processors with a total of 192 cores (24 per CPU) that support hyper-threading and run at a base clock speed of 2.2 GHz (2.6 GHz in turbo mode); the Haswell-EX-based predecessor maxed out at 144 cores. Like the Xeon® 8800 v3 processor family, the Broadwell-EX line offers a rich set of memory protection and RAS features, this time boasting a new functionality called Address Range Memory Mirroring that's supposed to prevent data loss in case of a RAM malfunction. Along with its 192 cores, it may also be equipped with up to 192 DDR4 DIMMs, each of which provides 128 GB of RAM, thus arriving at a staggering total of 24 TB of main memory1 – twice as much as the previous edition. What's more, the system is also readily scalable, as customers can start with only a pair of processors and proceed to the 'full set' in increments of two. Likewise, up to 16 PCIe slots offer multiple expansion options, e.g. via the PRIMEQUEST-typical I/O units that connect to external storage subsystems. Finally, a dual power feed option for redundant phases, comprehensive power management functions, and the treasure trove of our ServerView management tools ensure that the PRIMEQUEST 2800B3 can be adapted to almost any kind of scenario as a business grows.

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Fig. 1: The FUJITSU Server PRIMEQUEST 2800E3 can hold up to 8 Intel® Xeon® E7-8890 v4 processors with 192 cores in its maximum configuration

  • The PRIMEQUEST 2400E3 and 2800E3 (cf. Fig. 1) were designed to perform mission-critical tasks. To achieve this, these systems use advanced RAS features that help them remain active at all times, even under adverse conditions that would overstrain the PRIMEQUEST 2800B3. For instance, physical partitioning (PPAR) lets admins create discrete partitions that are completely isolated from each other, thus ensuring that an electrical or component failure in one partition doesn't affect the others. Likewise, so-called active reserved system boards will 'take over' immediately in case a mainboard goes down, which means that processes and services are automatically restored – in many cases without noticeable disruption. Other RAS functions include Dynamic Reconfiguration (on-the-fly, real-time balancing of system resources) as well as strong error recovery and data correction mechanisms. Moreover, all relevant components in both systems – except for the CPU – are redundant and hot-pluggable. In other words, it's practically impossible to bring these systems to their knees, which means they're an ideal hardware platform for banks, hospitals, power stations, water suppliers and other use cases that require 24/7 uptime. But they're also capable of handling XXXL-sized, fast-growing databases, real-time analysis and the above-cited UNIX migrations. – Hardware-wise, the PRIMEQUEST E models don't differ much from their business-class cousin; in fact, they rely on the same Intel® Xeon™ E7-8800 v4 series processors, DDR4 DIMMs etc. Apart from the RAS features, the main differentiator here is that the 'E series' comes in two variants that offer more flexible configuration options: the PRIMEQUEST 2400E3 is a 4-socket system that can house between 1 and 4 processors; as a consequence, core counts may range from 4 to 96 depending on which of the new Xeons a customer chooses. Likewise, it can hold up to 96 memory modules that bring the total amount of RAM to 12 TB. In addition, the system can be equipped with up to three memory scale-up boards to add 25% more memory where necessary. The PRIMEQUEST 2800E3 is an 8-socket system that scales seamlessly from 1 to 8 processors and thus 4 to 192 cores; likewise, memory capacity may vary between 16 GB in a minimum setup with one quad-core CPU and 24 TB2 in the full-fledged maximum configuration.

Benchmark Records
Following the hardware upgrades, the new generation of x86 PRIMEQUESTs looks ready to excel in multiple benchmarks and break the records their predecessors held. In fact, this has already happened:

  • On May 10, a PRIMEQUEST 2800E3 equipped with 8 Intel® Xeon® E7-8890 v4 processors (192 cores/384 threads) and 2 TB of main memory running the SAP enhancement package 5 for SAP ERP 6.0 on Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server 2012 accommodated an unprecedented 74,000 users in the SAP SD Two-Tier benchmark – an increase of 26% over its predecessor. The SAP certificate is here.3
  • An identical configuration scored SPECfp_rate_base and SPECfp_rate results of 4410 and 4490 during SPECfp_rate_base2006 benchmarks measuring Technical Computing Throughput in 8-socket x86 system configurations, while a 2-processor setup with 256 GB RAM reached scores of 1180 and 1210 in the matching 2-socket benchmark. SPECint_rate_base2006 tests, measuring server throughput and performed on an 8-processor system with 1 TB main memory, arrived at scores of 6930 and 7200 for the SPECint_rate_base and SPECint_rate, respectively.4

Conclusion
In today's hyper-connected economy, enterprises must be able to constantly process and analyze data at maximum speed and keep up business- and mission-critical services 24/7. The combination of both is often considered the master key to success. With Fujitsu's third-generation x86 PRIMEQUEST servers, data- and knowledge-driven companies of any size can gain both abilities at an affordable price.

 

[1] On special release only.

[2] On special release only.

[3] The SAP Sales and Distribution (SD) Standard Application Benchmark performed by Fujitsu in Paderborn, Germany, was certified by SAP on behalf of the SAP Benchmark Council. Certificate number: 2016023. Further information can be found at www.sap.com/benchmark.

[4] Competitive SPEC® benchmark results stated in this release reflect results published as of June 6, 2016. For the latest SPEC® benchmark results, visit the result pages for the different benchmarks on www.spec.org or www.fujitsu.com/fts/products/computing/servers/primergy/benchmarks/.

Marcel Schuster

 

About the Author:

Marcel Schuster

Senior Specialist Marketing Manager – Data Center Systems / Server

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