First Look: NEC Express5800/A2000

Mainframe-style features and performance for high-density virtualization and resource-intensive workloads

Michael Otey

February 20, 2014

4 Min Read
First Look: NEC Express5800/A2000

NEC’s new Express5800/A2000 CX series brings mainframe-style features and performance to high-density virtualization and extremely resource-intensive workloads. The Express5800/A2000 CX is NECs highest performing system, and it’s the 6th generation of NEC’s enterprise Intel server class of systems. The Express5800/A2000 CX series is based on Intel’s latest Xeon E7 v2 processors, which support up to 15 cores per processor and 2x the memory of the previous generation.

The new CX series features NEC’s dynamic partitioning technology; these servers deliver an amazing 2x increase in processing power per socket over NEC’s previous generation while reducing the power and space requirements by 50 percent. The Express5800/A2040b achieved the world record performance among 4-socket servers on the SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM benchmark. The SPECjbb2013 is SPEC’s benchmark for evaluating the performance and scalability of environments running Java business applications. The NEC Express5800/A2040b outperformed the previous record set by an 8-socket Xeon server by a factor of 1.67. You can see NEC’s Express58000/A2000 CX in Figure 1.

NEC Express5800/A2000 Series

There are two main models in the NEC Express5800/A2000 CX family: the A2040b/A2040b COPT and the A2020b. Both use the same 4U chassis and Intel’s Xeon E7 v2 Ivy Bridge-EX processors. The 2040 model provides the maximum scalability and flexibility and COPT model features, including core optimization, which I cover in more detail later. The Express5800/2040 models support flexible configurations of 2, 3, or 4 CPUs along with a maximum of 4TB of RAM. The COPT model also supports enterprise RAS features, including the ability to respond to CPU and memory failures while the system continues operating. Memory can be added without a server reboot using NEC’s memory hot-add feature.

The A202b is the value model, which NEC delivers in fixed 2-CPU/30-core configuration. Both models have eight 2.5" SAS drives with maximum internal storage of 9.6TB HDD or 3.2TB SSD. For expandability there are 16 PCIe 3.0 slots (8x and 4x). The front of the unit has a built-in DVD RW drive, a 15-pin VGA video port, and three USB 2.0 ports. The back of the unit has one USB 2.0 port, two 1GB management NICs, and one multifunction port cable containing two USB ports, one VGA port, and one serial port.

The NEC Express5800/A2000 supports a unique core optimization capability call COPT (Capacity OPTimization) that allows you to dynamically enable CPUI cores while the system is running, without requiring a reboot. This technology enables both scaling of performance by adding CPU cores and on-the-fly replacement of any failed cores without requiring a system reboot or any end user downtime. COPT is essentially a dynamic CPU core license control similar to UNIX’s capacity-on-demand capability. COPT allows you to “pay as you grow” by dynamically adding cores using a core activation key. The NEX Express5800/A2040b COPT model can seamlessly scale up from 1 to 60 cores. This core optimization capability is independent of the operating systems and it works with Linux and VMware vSphere as well as it does with Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. You can see an overview of NEC’s COPT feature in Figure 2.

Capacity Optimization (COPT)

Designed for supporting high-density virtualization environments, the NEC Express5800/A2000 is paired perfectly with NEC’s ProgrammableFlow networking suite. It’s one thing to provide the raw processing power like the NEC Express5800 delivers. However, you still need to get the power out to the end users, and the network can be a performance bottleneck—especially for highly virtualized environments. NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology can ensure that all of your virtual machines (VMs) can meet their SLAs by delivering application-level network virtualization.

NEC’s ProgrammableFlow is completely integrated with Microsoft’s System Center and Hyper-V virtualization, enabling you to manage your VMs and virtual networks from a single pane of glass. You can create virtual networks using System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and NEC’s ProgrammableFlow SDN will dynamically provision all the required network services. NEC’s ProgrammableFlow networking suite uses the OpenFlow protocol to dynamically provision and control both the physical switches and the Hyper-V extensible virtual switch.

NEC’s new Express5800/A2000 CX can be ordered beginning on February 28, 2014, with a list price starting at $30,000. You can find out more at NEC’s Scalable Enterprise Servers page.

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