Supermicro SuperServer 520P-WTR ReviewAugust 27, 2021
The Supermicro SuperServer 520P-WTR (SHOP HERE) is a 2U storage server perfect for database processing and general storage. The thing that currently sets this system apart from other offerings is a 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, which means more cores!
The Supermicro SuperServer 520P-WTR has a single processor, but not just any CPU. This system has one of Intel’s latest, code name Ice Lake, processors also known as the 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors. This is quite a jump from the 2nd Gen offering 28 cores per processor and only PCIe 3.0. The 3rd Gen CPUs now offer 40 cores and PCIe 4.0! Yes, AMD does have 64 core processors, but so what? Do we need those extra cores for this? Nope.
The front of the chassis features 8x hot-swap 3.5-inch storage bays that support SATA drives natively, but can be upgraded to support SAS with a separate SAS controller card. You also have the choice of two rear mounted drive cages for either SAS/SATA or NVMe drives. RAID is enabled for both SATA and NVMe drives directly through the motherboard and CPU. And yes, there is an M.2 slot on the system board that will support either a SATA or NVMe M.2 drive.
A control panel on the upper right has the power ON button, a reset button, plus several status LEDs. These provide status on power, general universal information, the LAN ports, the HDDs and a few other bits.
Moving to the back of the system, you can install 2x more 2.5-inch NVMe drives in a special drive cage. There are two 600W or 650W Platinum level PSUs operating in a 1+1 redundancy. Next there are a few ports, and this system offers two 10Gb Ethernet ports for fast access to stored data.
Unfortunately, a Supermicro I/O card is not an option for this system, but there are plenty of PCIe slots to address that. Then we have a dedicated IPMI gigabit LAN port for management of the system plus a few other ports including 2x USB ports 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and a serial port with an RGB port. Next a few PCIe slots including 2x x8 low profile slots and 2x x16 full height, full length slots. We’ll take a look at those in more detail in a moment.
That single management port provides access to the integrated platform management interface 2.0 (IPMI 2.0) for at-chassis or remote management of the system. All of this is made possible by the ASPEED AST2600 base management controller. There is a unique default password for the ADMIN user on the pullout tag, which can be reset by the IPMICFG tool. Various other management applications are also supported including Redfish API, Intel’s Node Manager, plus a few proprietary applications like Supermicro’s Server Manager which is the all-in-one solutions manager for Supermicro systems in the data center. It supports REST APIs and WebUI, but you will need to load it on each server you want to manage and there are licensing costs associated with that. There’s also the Supermicro Power Manager, and Supermicro Update Manager, which are kind of self-explanatory.
Once we lift the hood, there is a single CPU socket with 4x memory module slots to either side for a total of 8x slots. Given the new Ice Lake processor with support for up to 40 cores, plus PCIe 4.0, and more lanes too, the socket is now the LGA-4189 instead of the LGA 3647. LGA 3647 was perfectly fine for the 1st and 2nd generation Intel Xeon processors, but not this new one. So no, you cannot use your janky, last years, old news, 1st gen or even 2nd gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors in this Supermicro SuperServer 520P-WTR and expect anything but failure.
These new processors also offer 8x memory channels compared to the previous generations which had only 6x. In other words, significantly improved memory bandwidth. In fact, 1.6 times the bandwidth compared to the previous generation.
The supported top memory speed has also gotten a boost from 2933MHz to 3200MHz. PCIe lanes have been bumped up from PCIe 3.0 to PCIe 4.0 and from 48 PCIe 3.0 lanes to 60 PCIe 4.0 lanes. You have a choice of using 3DS registered or load-reduced memory modules for up to 2TB of memory. You can also install up to 3TB using 256GB 3DS RDIMMs or LRDIMMs in 4x slots and populating the other 4x memory slots with 512GB data centric persistent memory modules also known as Intel Optane 200 series memory modules. Memory can run at up to 3200MHz, but both the processor and memory modules will have to support this speed otherwise you’re stuck with the slower performer of the two.
With more PCIe lanes in general, this system has 4x PCIe 4.0 slots to work with. 2x low profile x8 slots in the right-hand riser and 2x full height, full length x16 slots in the left riser. Additional options include an NVMe or SAS/SATA rear drive cage. There’s also an add-on card for two more NVMe/SATA M.2 modules that can be placed in a RAID for redundancy if you want to use them for your operating system.
This system also has a dedicated slot for a vROC, or virtual RAID on CPU, key for SSD support and RAID functions. As you may have already guessed, the Premium vROC key will provide the most RAID options for SAS SSDs operating at 12Gb/s. But for even more control over your storage devices several storage control cards are offered supporting RAID of 0,1,5,6,10,50 and 60. Host Bus Adapter, AKA HBA controller, cards are also supported if you want to connect more devices to your fiber channel storage area network.
Other than the fact that we can’t seem to be able to decipher Supermicro’s naming convention, this single socket Supermicro SuperServer 520P-WTR 2U server delivers some impressive performance! That single 3rd generation Intel Xeon processor delivers up to 40 cores, or a 1.46 average improvement compared to the previous generation And, then there’s higher memory bandwidth, higher memory capacity and more and faster PCIe support. With native 10GbE, this system offers quick access to the network for database applications.