Dell EMC PowerEdge R7515 ReviewMay 9, 2020
The Dell EMC PowerEdge R7515 Server supports up to 26 drive bays in a 2U chassis with a single 2nd generation AMD EPYC processor. These single processor AMD systems have been making a big splash. Why? Because with the high core counts on these platforms they can do as good or better than a 2 CPU system at a lower cost!
There are five new Dell systems specifically designed to take advantage of the new features on the 2nd generation AMD EPYC processors, code name ROME. There’s this R7515, plus another single socket 1U version (R6515) and three two-socket versions: R7525, R6525 (which we already reviewed), and a dual socket cloud server (C6525) that hopefully we will review in a few weeks.
At the top of the line, you’re getting twice the core count at 64 cores and 128 threads compared to 32 cores max and 64 threads on the Gen1 version EPYC processors. Memory is 20% faster. Plus, a 50% increase in performance over the previous generation R7415 server, which we reviewed here. They look pretty much the same. I mean it’s got a new processor, but how about some AMD green racing stripes or something to match the new engine?
You still have the choice for either a security bezel on the front or one with an integrated control panel. Once you remove the bezel, there are several possible storage configurations to choose from.
- 24-bay 2.5-inch drive configuration
- 8-bay 3.5-inch drive configuration
- 12-bay 3.5-inch drive configuration
Optionally, you can put 2 more 2.5-inch SATA or SAS drives in back. This system will support SATA, SAS and NVMe drives, but that last one only on the 24-bay chassis with the universal backplane. The other option is a SAS/SATA capable backplane and is for the 3.5-inch drive configurations. Only the 8-bay chassis will support an optional optical device.
The left side control panel has an information button with tell-tale lights to the side indicating drive status, temperature, electrical, memory, and a PCIe indicator (just like the R6525). You also have the option for a QuickSync button right below the info button for at-chassis management of the system using either a smart phone or tablet.
On the right side of the system is another control panel with the power ON button, two USB ports, a mini USB-C port, and a VGA port. The mini USB-C port provides direct access to the integrated Dell Remote Access Controller, which in this case would be used for at-chassis management of the system using a crash cart. I suppose if you need to enter a lot of information it would be easier using a keyboard and if you’re just looking for status and assets then maybe the QuickSync option. Nice that you have two options right at the chassis.
You also get remote management of the system through the integrated Dell Remote Management Controller with Lifecycle Controller or iDRAC with Lifecycle Controller. Do you think it’s redundant with Controller in both of those names? They could have called it the integrated Dell Remote Access Controller with Lifecycle Administrator. We think that sounds better.
For even more granular control over the system and compatibility with third party platforms there’s OpenManage Enterprise, which is standard on this system. It also features the OpenManage Enterprise Power Manager to make sure you’re not overspending on power in the data center. There are also several security features, operating systems and hypervisors to choose from.
On the back of the system, starting on the far left, a system identification button, system status indicator cable port, VGA port, Serial port, dedicated iDRAC port for remote management of the system.
Next there’s two RJ-45 1Gb Ethernet ports. Right in the middle are the PCIe expansion card slots with a slot on the bottom for the open compute project LAN on Motherboard riser Ethernet port. The LOM card is optional, but again if you don’t want to use up your PCIe ports then there are quite a few to choose from for different connection speeds and plenty of connection ports.
Before we move on, just wanted to say that we thought it was odd when Dell decided to switch from calling the Network Daughter card (NDC) a LOM card in the previous generation set of documents for the first AMD platforms. LOM card is used for most of these new ones too, only you resurrect the term NDC on the R7515 Data Sheet… and then call it a LOM card in the technical guide. Confusing? You be the judge.
Lastly, dual PSU slots for redundancy. With this system we are running a 750W PSU, but there are more options depending on how this system will be outfitted. You’re definitely going to need the 1100W PSUs if you will be installing multiple GPUs, as this system will support up to four.
Under The Hood
With the cover off you can see our single 2nd gen AMD EPYC processor with heat sink. As our 7502P processor has 32 cores and 8x memory module slots to either side of the socket, you can see the need for some effective cooling. And that bank of 6x high-performance fans pulls in fresh air from the front and over those memory modules and CPU heat sink and then out the back.
This board will support one of AMDs EPYC Gen2 64 core processors. We used the 32 -core processor, which has a TDP of 180w, and just like AMD’s other 2nd generation EPYC processor lineup, it supports 8x memory channels at up to 3200MHz. And with 16 slots total, that means two memory modules per channel for a maximum of 2TB of memory using 3DS Load-Reduced memory modules or up to 1TB using Registered DDR4 modules. This system is currently loaded with 16x 32GB memory modules for 512GB of memory.
The backplane on this chassis supports SAS and SATA drives with hot plug connections. SATA and NVMe drives are supported natively using the integrated S150 software RAID for SATA, but NVMe is only supported on the 2.5-inch chassis. SAS will require an HD/RAID controller, and again, you have several to choose from. Strangely, none of the new HD/RAID controllers are listed on the spec sheet.
Dell lists all of the, kind of, older controllers on the spec sheet for this model, including the H840 for external HDs. The R7515 also has a dedicated port for a miniPERC controller with its very own miniPERC air shroud for SAS implementations, or if you need more control over your storage.
With AMD you get 128 PCIe lanes to work with. And again, the number of slots does depend on which risers you install, but you get up to 4x PCIe x16 lanes. Two of those x16 slots are PCIe 3.0 and the other two are PCIe 4.0 for future hardware support.
You can also install a maximum of two faster network controller cards that can access an impressive x16 lane in each slot for rapid data transfers and no bottlenecks. Using all PCIe slots you can install up to 4x Nvidia T4 single wide GPUS for dense Virtual Desktop Implementations or a single full-height field-programable gate array that can be assigned more specific functionality.
This system does not have any integrated M.2 slots on the motherboard, but as an option you can install a Boot Optimized Storage Subsystem (BOSS) featuring dual M.2 drives that can be used to support your OS with redundancy.
Let’s not forget the Micro SD card module that has a dedicated x4 port on the system board so you don’t use up any of those x16 PCIe slots. This module features dual micro SD cards on one side and a vFlash card on the other for iDRAC storage.
“20% faster memory, 100% greater core count, GPU accelerators, NVMe and advanced connectivity”
The system lowers customers’ equipment cost, provides more storage capacity for software defined storage and data analytics, plus virtualization. It offers a 51% increase in performance compared to the previous generation and that would be the R7415!
There’s a lot of features to love about the Dell EMC PowerEdge R7515 server, and with a single socket, you can reduce your licensing fees for certain Applications, which may be based on a per CPU socket licensing model.
If you have a question, post it in the comments section below. Remember IT Creations carries this server and many other servers, workstations and components. If you’re looking for IT equipment check out our website and if you don’t see what you are looking for give us a call, chances are we probably have it!