Supermicro SuperServer E302-9D Review: A Fanless 10G pfSense Powerhouseby Ganesh T S on July 28, 2020 3:00 PM EST
- Posted in
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.
Post Your CommentPlease log in or sign up to comment.
View All Comments
eastcoast_pete - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - linkThanks, interesting review! Might be (partially) my ignorance of the design process, but wouldn't it be better from a thermal perspective to use the case, especially the top part of the housing directly as heat sink? The current setup transfers the heat to the inside space of the unit and then relies on passive con
vection or radiation to dispose of the heat. Not surprised that it gets really toasty in there.
DanNeely - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - linkFrom a thermal standpoint yes - if everything is assembled perfectly. With that design though, you'd need to screw attach the heat sink to the CPU via screws from below, and remove/reattach it from the CPU every time you open the case up. This setup allows the heatsink to be semi-permanently attached to the CPU like in a conventional install.
You're also mistaken about it relying on passive heat transfer, the top of the case has some large thermal pads that will make contact with the tops of the heat sinks. (They're the white stuff on the inside of the lid in the first gallery photo; made slightly confusing by the lid being rotated 180 from the mobo.) Because of the larger contact area and lower peak heat concentration levels thermal pads are much less finicy about being pulled apart and slapped together than the TIM between a chip and the heatsink base.
Lindegren - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - linkCould be Solved by having the CPU on the opposite side og the board
close - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkLower power designs do that quite often. The MoBo is flipped so it faces down, the CPU is on the back side of the MoBo (top side of the system) covered by a thick, finned panel to serve as passive radiator. They probably wanted to save on designing a MoBo with the CPU on the other side.
eastcoast_pete - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - linkAppreciate the comment on the rotated case; those thermal pads looked oddly out of place. But, as Lindegren's comment pointed out, having the CPU on the opposite site of this, after all, custom MB, one could have the main heat source (SoC/CPU) facing "up", and all others facing "down".
For maybe irrational reasons, I just don't like VRMs, SSDs and similar getting so toasty in an always-on piece of networking equipment.
YB1064 - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkCrazy expensive price!
Valantar - Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - linkI think you got tricked by the use of a shot of the motherboard with a standard server heatsink. Look at the teardown shots; this version of the motherboard is paired with a passive heat transfer block with heat pipes which connects directly to the top chassis. No convection involved inside of the chassis. Should be reasonably efficient, though of course the top of the chassis doesn't have that many or that large fins. A layer of heat pipes running across it on the inside would probably have helped.
herozeros - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - linkNeat review! I was hoping you could offer an opinion on why they elected to not include a SKU without quickassist? So many great router scenarios with some juicy 10G ports, but bottlenecks if you’re trafficing in resource intensive IPSec connections, no? Thanks!
herozeros - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - linkMe English are bad, should read “a SKU without Quickassist”
GreenReaper - Tuesday, July 28, 2020 - linkThe MSRP of the D-2123IT is $213. All D-2100 CPUs with QAT are >$500:
And the cheapest of those has a lower all-core turbo, which might bite for consistency.
It's also the only one with just four cores. Thanks to this it's the only one that hits a 60W TDP.
Bear in mind internals are already pushing 90C, in what is presumably a reasonably cool location.
The closest (at 235% the cost) is the 8-core D-2145NT (65W, 1.9Ghz base, 2.5Ghz all-core turbo).
Sure, it *could* do more processing, but for most use-cases it won't be better and may be worse. To be sure it wasn't slower, you'd want to step up to D-2146NT; but now it's 80W (and 301% the cost). And the memory is *still* slower in that case (2133 vs 2400). Basically you're looking at rack-mount, or at the very least some kind of active cooling solution - or something that's not running on Intel.
Power is a big deal here. I use a quad-core D-1521 as a CPU for a relatively large DB-driven site, and it hits ~40W of its 45W TDP. For that you get 2.7Ghz all-core, although it's theoretically 2.4-2.7Ghz. The D-1541 with twice the cores only gets ~60% of the performance, because it's _actually_ limited by power. So I don't doubt TDP scaling indicates a real difference in usage.
A lower CPU price also gives SuperMicro significant latitude for profit - or for a big bulk discount.