Intel Xeon D-1500 crams incredible virtualization lab specs into tiny mITX size, codename Broadwell-DE

Posted by Paul Braren on Mar 9 2015 (updated on May 21 2015) in
  • CPU
  • ESXi
  • HomeLab
  • HomeServer
  • Network
  • Virtualization
  • As of June 22nd, it appears you can place your order and expect shipments to start June 23rd.

    Broadwell-DE Xeon D-1540 advanced CPU features table

    As I mentioned recently, the venerable Intel I-350 gigabit NIC works nicely with ESXi 6.0, and will likely be on an updated VMware HCL (Hardware Compatibility List), right alongside the existing 5.5 listing. I've been using my Intel I350T2 extensively in my home lab, with the bundled drivers, and it can even be easily made to work with ESXi 5.1. That dual port PCIe card uses about 4 watts.

    Now let's look at 10GbE. Normally, it takes 7-14 watts just to power two 10GbE network ports, on a PCIe card. Imagine that instead of a card, you add those 10GB ports right into a tiny new 6.7 inch x 6.7 inch (17cm x 17cm) mITX motherboard that bundles a Xeon D-1500 processor family CPU with it. Fast, and efficient. The Broadwell-DE is a completely new 45 watt max power draw design that packs in a lot of capability. It's designed to take on the low end of the server world, and bundling the CPU and motherboard like this is called:

    SoC (System on Chip)

    This is Intel's first-ever Xeon SoC (CPU+mobo combo). Along with Intel's Xeon D-1500 announcement came today's Supermicro X10SDV-TLN4F announcement, with key features highlighted here:

    • dual 10GbE ports*
    • dual 1GbE ports (based on Intel I-350)
    • six SATA 6Gbps ports
    • one M.2 slot
    • IPMI with KVM, on a dedicated 5th ethernet port (ability to remotely control server, including power, over web UI)
    • ability to handle up to 4 x 32GB, which is 128GB total, in 4 DIMM slots

    *The X10SDV-F is identical, other than it sheds about $80 to $100 in cost, while also losing the dual 10GbE ports.

    Now you'll begin to see why Patrick Kennedy of ServeTheHome had this to say, earlier today:

    One request we hear often in the forums is for the power of Intel Xeon E5 in the mITX form factor. Broadwell-DE is the answer. For those wanting to build converged appliances such as VM hosts, virtualized router/ firewall appliances, and virtualized storage all in one box, Broadwell-DE will instantly be at the top of the list.

    Sounds like a home virtualization enthusiast's dream, no? Even with all 4 DIMM slots loaded with RAM, likely to use less than 100 watts. Given this platform is designed with a virtualization audience in mind, I doubt it'll be long before the whole bundle is on the VMware HCL, and will likely work really nicely with Microsoft Hyper-V as well, of course.

    What's the catch?

    Image of X10SDV-TLN4F courtesy of Supermicro
    • motherboard/CPU combos based on Broadwell-DE don't arrive in volume until April 2015
    • they're likely to be in the $800 to $1000 range, but remember, that's the motherboard/cpu/heatsink/cooling fan combo
    • jury out on what it'd cost to get to 64GB or 128GB (most gear has been stuck at 32GB max for years now, see also my many rants)

    For now, here's a list of the small systems also announced today that includes:

    In Patrick's Super Micro article, he states:

    The Intel Xeon D does support SODIMMs but Supermicro’s choice to go with full size DDR4 DIMM slots makes finding memory easier.

    Here's more options, including many that TinkerTry commenters have kindly taken the time to mention:

    Note, most of these systems are generally not supported by VMware in any way, and are not on the VMware Compatibility Guide.

    It should be interesting to see what finally winds up being an affordable way to get way past 32GB of RAM this year, with screaming fast local SSD (or even better, PCIe M.2) lumped into one VMFS or vSAN datastore. Yum!

    Follow what happens next over at Patrick's Intel Xeon D-1500 Series Discussion, and stay tuned to TinkerTry in 2015, to see what platform I chose to replace my trusty Z68 based vZilla with. While it's been running very well since April 2011, pretty much 24x7, I want to break past that 32GB barrier affordably, allowing me to juggle more VMs. Why?

    See also

    tom's IT PRO, Patrick Kennedy
    Intel Fires Off At ARM With Xeon D SoC

    Serve The Home, Patrick Kennedy
    Intel Xeon D-1500 platforms from Supermicro

    Serve The Home, Patrick Kennedy
    Intel Xeon D – Intel SoC Changing the low end with Broadwell-DE

    virtuallyGhetto, William Lam
    Home Labs made easier with vSAN 6.0 + USB Disks

    Intel ARK
    Intel® Xeon® Processor D-1520 (6M Cache, 2.20 GHz)

    Intel ARK
    Intel® Xeon® Processor D-1540 (12M Cache, 2.00 GHz)

    Intel Newsroom
    Intel Packs Power, Intelligence of Xeon® Processor into System-on-Chip Offering to Target New, Growing Network Opportunities

    PR Newsire
    Supermicro® Launches New Line of Low Power, High Density Server Solutions Supporting Intel® Xeon® Processor D-1500

    The Intel Xeon Processor D-1500 product family offers advanced technology in a highly cost-effective package," said Lisa Spelman, General Manager of Intel's Datacenter Products Group. "Utilizing Intel's 14nm process technology, the new Broadwell-DE SoC features a 64-bit architecture with up to 8 cores running under 45W. With experienced partners such as Supermicro developing high density platforms for our new processor family, customers will have a wide range of solutions that deliver performance within budgetary constraints.

    Mar 10 2015 Update

    Yesterday, Apple announced the new MacBook, with a single USB-C port, shipping now. So yes, USB 3.1 speeds are now here, in a mass market product. For a fun look back at my interface predictions, seen in the Aug 24 2013 TinkerTry infographic.

    click the image above to read the full article

    What does this mean for fast external storage options for the home lab enthusiast? Hard to say yet whether USB-C (Type C connector) will become prevalent, given how long that pesky USB physical socket has been around. Not hard to imagine the interface on future microservers though. See just how far William Lam has taken his home lab USB 3.0 vSAN (don't miss the comments), and his work with Thunderbolt and ESXi. See also, just-published at TinkerTry:

    Apple and home labs - Because you know it's all about that USB-C, 'Bout that USB-C, no Lightning

    Mar 11 2015 Update

    Introducing: Intel® Xeon® Processor D Product Family Extending Intelligence to the Edge - Intel, Lisa Spelman


    Mar 13 2015 Update

    VMware ESXi 6.0 and Intel Xeon D / Broadwell-DE

    Upon restarting everything just worked. There are some part of the machine information that were not visible, which is typical in pre-production gear like this Supermicro X10SDV-F. We can see 8x CPUs at 1.9GHz which is the base clock of the pre-release version of the Intel Xeon D-1540 (the shipping version is 100MHz faster.) DirectPath I/O is supported and we have a 64GB RAM 8 CPU/ 16 thread ESXi 6.0 node idling at 22w now that we have better right-sized cooling. That is really awesome for anyone who has been looking for low power ESXi nodes.


    Mar 16 2015 Update


    Notice the upcoming ASUS D1540D4X, arriving next month:

    Some of the shine came off the new announcements today, with this new post in the STH forum:

    Patrick said:
    For now, the quad core version is also a 45w TDP part. There were only two launch SoCs but there are other variants coming in the next quarter or two.

    Here is the Intel Xeon D-1520 page: ARK | Intel Xeon Processor D-1520 (6M Cache, 2.20 GHz)

    dba said:
    Darn. I read the link from EffrafaxOfWug (here) which said 20W. Intel Ark is certainly more authoritative, so 45W it is. That's still quite good considering the dual 10GbE, etc. but not quite as impressive.

    hjfr said, Today at 3:21 AM #141
    Normally, more CPU should coming this year:

    Brand name Core count Market TDP Launch
    Xeon D 8 cores Server 45W Q2 2015 (limited networking features) (D-1540 ?)
    Xeon D 8 cores Server 45W Q3 2015
    Xeon D 8 cores Embedded 35W and 45W Q3 2015

    Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced Mini-ITX Computer Case

    Xeon D 6 cores Server 45W Q3 2015
    Xeon D 6 cores Embedded 35W Q3 2015
    Xeon D 4 cores Server 45W Q3 2015 (D-1520 ?)
    Xeon D 4 cores Embedded 25W and 35W Q3 2015
    Xeon D 2 cores Embedded 25W Q3 2015
    Pentium 2 cores Embedded less than 20W Q3 2015

    Imagine something like the Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced - Mini-ITX Computer Case as a home for one (or more) of these microserver motherboards.

    See also Chris Wahl's new post Common Information Model (CIM) Data for Home Lab Server Hardware that described CIM very nicely, and includes some very nice ESXi on Supermicro screenshots.

    Apr 07 2015 Update

    What happens when you bundle the motherboard, CPU, and enclosure? Yes, Supermicro also took the tiny mITX X10SDV-TLN4F motherboard/CPU and pre-installed it into a compact enclosure with a 250 watt power supply, sold as the SuperServer 5028D-TN4T Mini-tower.

    SuperServer 5028D-TN4T Mini-Tower

    Also notice that the tested Hynix memory is now listed by Supermicro for these new motherboards, which come bare-bones with no RAM, of course. So, to get to 64GB total using 4 16GB DDR4-2133 ECC DIMMs, it'll currently cost you about $200 x 4 = $800 on Amazon.

    Finally, pre-orders for this Mini-tower don't seem to be available anywhere quite yet, but there is a listing at eSAITECH here.

    Apr 23 2015 Update

    Found a nice discussion video on techreport:

    closely related article:

    The Tech Report, Scott Wasson
    Intel's Xeon D brings Broadwell to cloud, web services - A big compute node in a small package

    May 21 2015 Update

    Wow, Patrick knocks it out of the park again, fantastic review of the Supermicro SYS-5028D-TN4T

    June 22 2015 Update

    Supermicro Resellers

    Finally, availability!

    The Supermicro list of authorized resellers might not be the more familiar manes like Amazon and Newegg that you're used to. But that's ok. The good news is that they don't all require you to uplift their profit with bundled DIMMs and/or drives, and one doesn't even charge for ground shipments to US customers. I had to spend a lot of time going through the list of North American distributors to get to this point, and glad to share what I learned.

    In my extensive research, only one of the dozens of US resellers is claiming it will be available soon. Very soon. Tomorrow, June 23, 2015 actually, with all of the the others saying 2-3 weeks out, special order, or bundled deals only.

    Who is the reseller I've chosen? It's Wiredzone. They take credit cards or PayPal, and seem to have an excellent reputation, with a ResellerRatings report of 9.87 out of 10 here.

    I have placed my order today, and I should have more details to report soon, including any ship-date details I receive.

    Here's the Wiredzone MFG Part Number: SYS-5028D-TN4T listing:

    June 22 2015 Update #2

    Note the the Wiredzone site does say "Build To Order" but I've been assured it will ship tomorrow.


    Now the hunt begins for DIMMS, with a goal of getting to 128GB total, if I can eventually afford to. See also Supermicro Support's Tested Memory.