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Advantech SKY-7221 Server Review

by Adam Armstrong
Advantech SKY-7221 Server front

The Advantech SKY-7221 is a 2U rackmount server that leverages the second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor family. The server is dual socketed so it can support two of the new Intel CPUs and all of the benefits that come with them. This particular server is aimed at being leveraged hyperconverged storage, software-defined storage, and high-end enterprise use.

The Advantech SKY-7221 is a 2U rackmount server that leverages the second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor family. The server is dual socketed so it can support two of the new Intel CPUs and all of the benefits that come with them. This particular server is aimed at being leveraged hyperconverged storage, software-defined storage, and high-end enterprise use.

Advantech SKY-7221 Server front

On the hardware side of things, the Advantech SKY-7221 has a fairly good level of configurability to it. When it comes to storage, the server supports 12/16 bays for 3.5” drives for maximum or 24 bays for 2.5” drives for those that would rather leverage flash. The server supports all the main interfaces SATA/SAS/NVMe in hot-swap variety. There are also two M.2 slots for boot drives (though these are SATA bays). With 24 DIMM slots, the SKY-7221 supports up to 3TB ECC DDR4-2933Mhz memory.

There are six PCIe slots on the rear for plenty of expansion. Users can add up to four FHHL PCIe Gen3 x8 cards and one FHHL PCIe Gen3 x16 card or two FHHL PCIe Gen3 x8 and two FHHL PCIe Gen3 x16. There is also an option for an OCP 2.0 PCIe Gen3 x16 for NIC support.

Advantech SKY-7221 Server Specifications

System P/N SKY-7221D3A-12A1R SKY-7221D3S-12A1R SKY-7221D3S-16C1R
Processor
Processor Type 2nd Gen. Intel Xeon Scalable Processors (Cascade Lake/Skylake)
Max. TDP Support 205W 165W
Number of Processors 2
Cores Up to 28 cores
Internal Interconnect 9.6/10.4 GT/s
Chipset Intel C621
Memory
Memory Capacity 24 DIMM slots, up to 3TB (128Gx24) of memory for RDIMM/LRDIMM
Memory Type 2933/2666/2400/2133MHz ECC DDR4 RDIMM/LRDIMM
Storage
3.5″/2.5″ HDD/SSD 12 Hot-swap 3.5″ drive bays
12 SATA3 ports by default
2 M.2 SATA3
Optional 8 SATA3 + 4 NVMe
Expansion Slots
SKU#1 1 PCI-E Gen3 x16 (FH/FL)
4 PCI-E Gen3 x8 (LP)
1 PCI-E Gen3 x16 OCP 2.0 NIC
SKU#2 2 PCI-E Gen3 x16 (FH/FL)
2 PCI-E Gen3 x8 (LP)
1 PCI-E Gen3 x16 OCP 2.0 NIC
Input / Output
Front I/O 2 USB2
1 PWR_LED
1 HDD_LED
1 Info_LED
1 ID_LED
2 LAN_LED(Mgmt)
Rear I/O 4 USB3.0
1 GbE RJ45 management port
2 GbE LAN port
1 RS232 serial port
1 VGA port
1 ID button
Power Supply
Power Rating Redundant hot-plug Platinum 850W PSU Redundant hot-plug Platinum 850W/1200W PSU
Input AC 100 ~ 240 V @ 50 ~ 60 Hz, full range
Cooling 4 system FAN with smart FAN control
Trust Platform Module TPM 2.0 SPI module (Optional)
System Management Industry-standard BMC, IPMI v2.0 / Redfish compliant, with a web interface, iKVM on request (AMI MegaRAC SP-X)
OS Support Linux (CentOS, Red Hat, Ubuntu), Windows server
Dimensions (W x H x D) 17.6 x 3.48 x 30 inch (448 x 88.4 x 760 mm)
Environment
Operating Temp. 0 ~ 40 °C (32 ~ 104 °F)
Non-operating Temperature -20 ~ 80° C (-4 ~ 167° F) and 40° C @ 95% RH Non-Condensing
Vibration Resistance With SATA HDD: 0.5 Grms, IEC 60068-2-64, 5-500Hz, 1hr/axis
Shock Protection With SATA HDD: 10G, IEC-60068-2-27, half sine, 11ms duration

Advantech SKY-7221 Design and Build

The Advantech SKY-7221 is a 2U server that looks pretty standard until you pop the cover off. Across the front are the twelve drive bays, in our case the 4 NVMe bays are highlighted by orange tabbed trays. On the left are two USB 2.0 ports. On the right are the power button and indicator lights for drives, info, ID, and LAN.

Advantech SKY-7221 Server back endFlipping around to the rear we see the six PCIe expansion slots across the top. On the bottom left are the two PSUs, going over to the right are four USB 3.0 ports, a management port, a serial port, a VGA port, two GbE LAN ports and four SFP+ ports, 10G. It is not often we see 10G onboard from a vendor without the need to add a NIC in to hit it.

Advantech SKY-7221 Server openTo hit the sixteen 3.5″ bays, there are four bays in the middle of the server that can be accessed by removing the lid. The drives pop out individually should service be required. To gain access to the DRAM and CPU’s the drive midplane can be removed with four screws.

Advantech SKY-7221 Server backAs stated, the server leaves plenty of room for expansion near the back with six PCIe slots and an OCP card slot.

Advantech SKY-7221 Performance

Advantech SKY-7221 Configuration:

  • 2 x Intel Cascade Lake 6230N
  • 4 x 32GB (128GB), 2 per CPU
  • Performance Storage: 4 x Micron 9300 NVMe 3.84TB
  • Capacity Storage: 12 x 4TB HDDs
  • CentOS 7 (1908)

VDBench Workload Analysis

When it comes to benchmarking storage arrays, application testing is best, and synthetic testing comes in second place. While not a perfect representation of actual workloads, synthetic tests do help to baseline storage devices with a repeatability factor that makes it easy to do apples-to-apples comparison between competing solutions. These workloads offer a range of different testing profiles ranging from “four corners” tests, common database transfer size tests, as well as trace captures from different VDI environments. All of these tests leverage the common vdBench workload generator, with a scripting engine to automate and capture results over a large compute testing cluster. This allows us to repeat the same workloads across a wide range of storage devices, including flash arrays and individual storage devices.

Profiles:

  • 4K Random Read: 100% Read, 128 threads, 0-120% iorate
  • 4K Random Write: 100% Write, 64 threads, 0-120% iorate
  • 64K Sequential Read: 100% Read, 16 threads, 0-120% iorate
  • 64K Sequential Write: 100% Write, 8 threads, 0-120% iorate
  • Synthetic Database: SQL and Oracle
  • VDI Full Clone and Linked Clone Traces

With random 4K read, the Advantech SKY-7221 started just under 100µs for latency and went on to peak at 2,548,549 IOPS with a latency of merely 198.1µs.

Advantech SKY-7221 4k read

Random 4K write started with much lower latency at only 18.4µs and stayed below 100µs until about 570K IOPS and went on to peak at about 668K IOPS with 278µs before latency increased and performance pulled back during I/O over saturation.

Advantech SKY-7221 4k write

Next up is sequential workloads where we looked at 64k. For 64K read the Advantech peaked at 217,631 IOPS or 13.6GB/s at a latency of 587µs.

Advantech SKY-7221 64k read

For 64K write the server stayed under 100µs until about 57K IOPS or 3.4GB/s and then went on to peak at about 71,109 IOPS or 4.44GB/s at a latency of 635µs.

Advantech SKY-7221 64k write

Our next set of tests are our SQL workloads: SQL, SQL 90-10, and SQL 80-20. Starting with SQL, the server peaked at 804,984 IOPS with a latency of 156µs.

SQL 90-10 saw a peak performance of 742,607 IOPS with a latency of 159µs.

With SQL 80-20 the Advantech saw a peak of 660,729 IOPS with a latency of 170µs.

Next up are our Oracle workloads: Oracle, Oracle 90-10, and Oracle 80-20. Starting with Oracle, the server peaked at 642,773 IOPS with a latency of 180µs.

Oracle 90-10 saw the Advantech server peak at 620,708 IOPS with a latency of 136µs.

For Oracle 80-20 we saw a peak performance of 580,312 IOPS with 142µs for latency.

Next, we switched over to our VDI clone test, Full and Linked. For VDI Full Clone (FC) Boot, the Advantech SKY-7221 gave us a peak of 609,190 IOPS and a latency of 200µs.

VDI FC Initial Login saw a peak of about 169,892 IOPS at 395µs before dropping off.

Next up is VDI FC Monday Login giving us a peak of about 162,006 IOPS at a latency of 264µs.

Switching to VDI Linked Clone (LC) Boot, the Advantech had a peak of 302,118 IOPS at 195µs latency.

For VDI LC Initial Login the server peaked at 95,807 IOPS with a latency of 254µs.

Finally, VDI LC Monday Login had a peak of 101,573 IOPS with a latency of 381µs.

Conclusion

The Advantech SKY-7221 is a dual-socket, 2U rackmount server. The server supports 2nd gen Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs. The server can be set up with either 12x 3.5” bays or 24 x 2.5” bays across the front with the interface of the user’s choosing; SAS, SATA, or NVMe. For boot, there are two SATA M.2 slots. Along with the two Intel CPUs, the Advantech can support up to 3TB of RAM. The server also can add support for additional networking, storage, or modules like FPGAs via six PCIe slots and an OCP 2.0 PCIe Gen3 x16 slot. Interestingly, the SKY-7221 comes with 10GbE ports onboard for higher connectivity without the need for a NIC.

We equipped the server with two Intel 6230N, 128GB of RAM, 16TB of NVMe storage, and 48TB of HDD storage. With this setup, we ran our VDBench tests to fairly good results on the NVMe storage. Highlights include 2.5 million IOPS for 4K read, 668K IOPS for 4K write, 13.6GB/s for 64K read, and for 64K write it hit 4.44GB/s. For our SQL workload, the server hit 805K IOPS, 743K IOPS for SQL 90-10, and SQL 80-20 gave us 661K IOPS. Oracle saw peaks of 643K IOPS, 621K IOPS for Oracle 90-10, and 580K IOPS for Oracle 80-20. With our VDI Full clone tests, we saw 609K IOPS for FC boot, 170K IOPS for FC Initial Login, and 162K IOPS for FC Monday Login. With Linked Clone, the results were 302K IOPS for boot, 96K IOPS for initial login, and 102K IOPS for Monday login.

The Advantech SKY-7221 is a bit of a Jack of all trades type of server that provides plenty of configuration options, high performance storage, as well as lots of high capacity storage for a multitude of use cases within the datacenter.

Advantech SKY-7221 Product Page

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