Supermicro SuperServer E302-9D Review: A Fanless 10G pfSense Powerhouseby Ganesh T S on July 28, 2020 3:00 PM EST
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Intel launched the Xeon D-2100 SoCs in early 2018, with a feature set making them a fit for several verticals including edge servers, networking, and storage. One of the key advancements made in the Xeon D-2100 compared to the first-generation Xeon D-1500 series was the inbuilt support for two additional 10G network interfaces. With TDPs starting at 60W, the Xeon D-2100 SoCs lends itself to some interesting and unique server and edge procesing products. One such system is Supermicro's passively-cooled SuperServer E302-9D sporting the Xeon D-2123IT SoC.
As part of the evaluation efforts of different technologies and products, AnandTech editors are regularly tasked with the building or identification of suitable testbed systems. The requirements for these systems often mirror the requirements of software developers and homelab enthusiasts. The increasing adoption of 10G across various networking / network-attached storage product lines meant that we were on the lookout for a low-power system with multiple 10G ports to act as testbeds. We reached out to Supermicro after spotting their X11SDV-4C-TP8F-01 FlexATX board. Supermicro graciously agreed to loan us two SuperServers based on the board to take for a testdrive - the E302-9D in a passively-cooled desktop form factor (that we are taking a detailed look at today), and the 5019D-4C-FN8TP 1U rackmount version.
Intel's Xeon D product line targets servers used in power- and size-constrained scenarios (including edge compute). This includes applications across multiple domains such as storage, networking, and communication. The product line integrates server-class CPU cores along with the platform controller hub (PCH) in a single package. The first-generation Xeon D (1500 series) was based on Broadwell-DE cores along with the C220 server PCH. Our launch coverage of the Xeon D-2100 series brought out the details of the updated server core (Skylake-DE) and PCH (Lewisburg C600-series). The relatively power-hungry PCH update and the addition of AVX512 capabilities in the Skylake cores meant that the minimum TDP went up from 20W in the D-1500 family to 60W in the D-2100. However, the updates also brought in welcome connectivity updates.
The Supermicro SuperServer E302-9D / X11SDV-4C-TP8F-01 we are looking at in this review utilizes the Xeon D-2123IT with a 4C/8T configuration. It has the least TDP of all members in the D-2100 family, yet comes with support for up to four 10G ports. The 60W TDP of the SoC allows Supermicro to utilize it in a passively-cooled system. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only off-the-shelf x86 system that provides consumers with four 10G Ethernet ports in a fanless configuration.
The Xeon D-2100 series offers support for up to 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes, 14 SATA 3.0 lanes, and 4 USB 3.0 ports. The D-2123IT can be equipped with up to 256GB of DDR-2400 ECC memory. In creating the X11SDV-4C-TP8F-01 board used in the E302-9D, Supermicro has worked around these features to create a compact board / system that appeals to developers and home-lab enthusiasts working on cutting-edge networking applications.
The SuperServer E302-9D is marketed as an embedded system comprising of the CSE-E302iL chassis and the X11SDV-4C-TP8F-01 board. The power supply is an external 150W adapter. The chassis sports a power button and status LED in the front panel, with all the I/O ports in the rear. The chassis supports a low-profile PCIe card mounted horizontally. The dimensions come in a 205mm x 295.2mm x 73mm. The gallery below takes us around the external design of the system.
The table below presents the specifications of the system along with the details of the reviewed configuration.
|Supermicro E302-9D Specifications|
|Processor||Intel Xeon D-2123IT
Skylake Xeon D, 4C/8T, 2.2 (3.0) GHz
8MB L2+L3, 14nm (optimized), 60W TDP
|Memory||Up to 4x DDR4-2400 DIMMs (256GB ECC/non-ECC RDIMM)
Micron DDR4-2400 ECC DIMMs
17-17-17-39 @ 2400 MHz
2x 16 GB
|Baseboard Management Controller (BMC)||ASpeed AST2500|
|Disk Drive(s)||Mushkin Atlas Vital MKNSSDAV250GB-D8
(250 GB; M.2 Type 2280 SATA 3.0; MLC ; Sandforce SF2241)
M.2 2280 slot also supports PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSDs
Chassis supports 2x 2.5" 7mm SATA drives (HDD or SSD)
|Networking||1x Realtek RTL8211 Gigabit Ethernet (IPMI)
4x Intel I350-AM4 Gigabit Ethernet
2x Intel X722 10GbE Controller with X557-AT2 PHY for 10GBASE-T Ethernet
2x Intel X722 10GbE SFP+
|Miscellaneous I/O Ports||2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) Type-A (Rear)|
|Operating System||Barebones, configured for triple boot:
Windows 2019 Server Standard (x64)
Ubuntu 20.04 LTS
|Pricing (As configured)||$1483 ($1203 + $230 + $50)|
|Full Specifications||Supermicro SuperServer SYS-E302-9D Specifications|
In the rest of this review, we first look at the detailed specifications of the board along with a look at the internals of the system. This is followed by some of our setup and usage impressions. In particular, we look at pfSense installation on the system along with some basic benchmarks. Finally, we take a look at the power consumption and temperature profiles before offering some concluding remarks.
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Jorgp2 - Thursday, July 30, 2020 - linkMaybe you should learn the difference between a switch and a router first.
newyork10023 - Thursday, July 30, 2020 - linkWhy do you people have to troll everywhere you go?
Gonemad - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkOh boy. I once got Wi-Fi "AC" 5GHz, 5Gbps, and 5G mobile networks mixed once by my mother. It took a while to explain those to her.
Don't use 10G to mean 10 Gbps, please! HAHAHA.
timecop1818 - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkFortunately, when Ethernet says 10Gbps, that's what it means.
imaheadcase - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkPut the name Supermicro on it and you know its not for consumers.
newyork10023 - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkThe Supermicro manual states that a PCIe card installed is limited to networking (and will require a fan installed). An HBA card can't be installed?
abufrejoval - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkSince I use both pfSense as a firewall and a D-1541 Xeon machine (but not for the firewall) and I share the dream of systems that are practically silent, I feel compelled to add some thoughts:
I started using pfSense on a passive J1900 Atom board which had dual Gbit on-board and cost less than €100. That worked pretty well until my broadband exceeded 200Mbit/s, mostly because it wasn’t just a firewall, but also added Suricata traffic inspection (tried Snort, too, very similar results).
And that’s what’s wrong with this article: 10Gbit Xeon-Ds are great when all you do is push packet, but don’t look at them. They are even greater when you terminate SSL connections on them with the QuickAssist variants. They are great when they work together with their bigger CPU brothers, who will then crunch on the logic of the data.
In the home-appliance context that you allude to, you won’t have ten types of machines to optimally distribute that work. QuickAssist won’t deliver benefits while the CPU will run out of steam far before even a Gbit connection is saturated when you use it just for the front end of the DMZ (firewall/SSL termination/VPN/deep inspection/load-balancing-failover).
Put proxies, caches or even application servers on them as well, even a single 10Gbit interface may be a total waste.
I had to resort to an i7-7700T which seems a bit quicker than the D-2123IT at only 35Watts TDP (and much cheaper) to sustain 500Mbit/s download bandwidth with the best gratis Suricata rule set. Judging by CPU load observations it will just about manage the Gbit loads its ports can handle, pretty sure that 2.5/5/10 Gbit will just throttle on inspection load, like the J1900 did at 200Mbit/s.
I use a D-1541 as an additional compute node in an oVirt 3 node HCI gluster with 3x 2.5Gbit J5005 storage nodes. I can probably go to 6x 2.5Gbit before its 10Gbit NIC becomes a bottleneck.
The D-1541’s benefit there is lots of RAM and cores, while it’s practically silent with 45 Watts TDP and none of the applications on it require vast amounts of CPU power.
I am waiting for an 8-core AMD 4000 Pro 35 Watt TDP APU to come as Mini-ITX capable of handling 64 or 128GB of ECC-RAM to replace the Xeon D-1541 and bring the price for such a mini server below that of a laptop with the same ingredients.
newyork10023 - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkWith an HBA (were it possible, hence my question), the 10Gbps serves a possible use (storage). Pushing and inspection exceeds x86 limits now. See TNSR for real x86 limits (wighout inspection).
abufrejoval - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkThat would seem apply to the chassis, not to the mainboard or SoC.
There is nothing to prevent it from working per se.
I am pretty sure you can add a 16-port SAS HBA or even NVMeOF card and plenty of external storage, if thermals and power fit. A Mellanox 100Gbit card should be fine electrically, logically etc, even if there is nothing behind to sustain that throughput.
I've had an Nvidia GTX1070 GPU in the SuperMicro Mini-ITX D-1541 for a while, no problem at all, functionally, even if games still seem to prefer Hertz over cores. Actually GPU accellerated machine learning inference was the original use case of that box.
newyork10023 - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkAs pointed out, the D2123IT has no QAT, so a QAT accelerator would take up an available PCIe slot. It could push 10G packets then, but not save them or think (AI) on them.