Broadwell in a Server SoC

In a nutshell, the Xeon D-1540 is two silicon dies in one highly integrated package. Eight 14 nm Broadwell cores, a shared L3-cache, a dual 10 gigabit MAC, a PCIe 3.0 root with 24 lanes find a home in the integrated SoC whereas in the same package we find four USB 3.0, four USB 2.0, six SATA3 controllers and a PCIe 2.0 root integrated in a PCH chip.


The Broadwell architecture brings small microarchitectural improvements - Intel currently claims about 5.5% higher IPC in integer processing. Other improvements include slightly lower VM exit/enter latencies, something that Intel has been improving with almost every recent generation (excluding Sandy Bridge). 

Of course, if you are in the server business, you care little about all the small IPC improvements. Let us focus on the large relevant improvements. The big improvements over the Xeon E3-1200 v3 are:

  1. Twice as many cores and threads (8/16 vs 4/8)
  2. 32 GB instead of 8 GB per DIMM supported and support for DDR4-2133
  3. Maximum memory capacity has quadrupled (128 GB vs 32 GB)
  4. 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes instead of 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes
  5. 12 MB L3 rather than 8 MB L3
  6. No separate C22x chipset necessary for SATA / USB
  7. Dual 10 Gbit Ethernet integrated ...

And last but not least, RAS (Reliability, Availability and Servicability) features which are more similar to the Xeon E5:

The only RAS features missing in the Xeon D are the expensive ones like memory mirroring. Those RAS features a very rarely used, and The Xeon D can not offer them as it does not have a second memory controller. 

Compared to the Atom C2000, the biggest improvement is the fact that the Broadwell core is vastly more advanced than the Silvermont core. That is not all: 

  1. Atom C2000 had no L3-cache, and are thus a lot slower in situation where the cores have to sync a lot (databases)
  2. No support for USB 3 (Xeon D: four USB 3 controllers)
  3. As far as we know Atom C2000 server boards were limited to two 1 Gbit PHYs (unless you add a separate 10 GBe controller)
  4. No support for PCIe 3.0, "only" 16 PCIe Gen2 lanes. 

There are more subtle differences of course such as using a crossbar rather than a ring, but those are beyond the scope of this review.  

The Xeon D SoC Meet the SuperServer 5028D-TN4T
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  • zodiacfml - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    this is the reason why Intel focuses on mobile, it benefits their server cpus too.

    the 14nm process is the one to thank for these massive improvements. Samsung also has 14nm and the S6 Exynos is in similar achievement
  • Refuge - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    I disagree, the Exynos is no where close to a similar achievement.

    Granted it is doing better than Qualcomm's equivalent at the moment.

    But I'm also faster than a fat man with a broken leg running on a hot and humid day.
  • zodiacfml - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    Still, these 14nm SoCs are the best in their class as they pack more cores while using less power.
  • LukaP - Thursday, June 25, 2015 - link

    Just a note, Samsung's (and TSMC's 16nm FF(+) process isnt really 16nm entirely. The interconnects are still 28nm making it not nearly as dense as intel's 14nm, as well as being more leaky. IIRC their density and leakage can be compared to intels 22nm TriGate in the times of Ivy Bridge
  • nils_ - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    Few questions:
    1. Why did you disable x2apic?
    2. Did the Large Page allocation in the Java Benchmark actually work? It can be a bit tricky some times and then falls back to 4KiB pages
    3. What were the JVM settings for elasticsearch?
  • JohanAnandtech - Thursday, June 25, 2015 - link

    1. Was out of the box disabled. I have to admit I did not check that option. Performance impact should be neglible though.
    2. I have no monitored that, but there was a performance impact if we disabled it.
    3. ES_heap_size = 20 G; otherwise standard ES settings
  • Daniel Egger - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    Wow, that is still quite pricey here. For the price of the SuperMicro tower you can actually get a 1U 2S Xeon E5 system with one socket equipped and some memory. I'd really love to replace my home server (running on Core i5 rather than Xeon E3 for efficiency reasons, those C chipset suck balls) with one of those systems if they can make them efficient and quiet.
  • hifiaudio2 - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    Two questions:

    1. How does the Xeon D compare to the c2700 series for a home NAS that will also serve as an Emby server and HDHR DVR (when that software is available). Could be one or two 1080p transcodes going on at the same time at most. Usually no transcoding if I am using Kodi or something that can natively play back the file, but for remote viewing or random uses over the network, some transcoding by Emby could be required -- if you are not familiar with Emby think of the same thing using Plex. So would the extra power of the Xeon D be of use to me, or is the 8 core c2750 plenty for the aforementioned use case?

    2. If I do go with this unit, which dimms specifically does it use? The Supermicro c2750 board takes laptop style dimms. What does this take?
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    I can answer 2: see the picture here: RDIMMs or UDIMMS (= basically "normal" DDR-4) will do.
  • hifiaudio2 - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    Thanks.. So this ram:?

    And what is the SR x4 / DR x8 difference in the two choices for the 8gb sticks?

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