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6 Posts authored by: Jim_Renehan

In previous blogs I mentioned an AMC processor card (Trenton MCP6792) that we were building using the Penryn SFF processors (Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo) and the Mobile Intel® GS45 Express chipset.  We released the board last week and the performance benchmarks for this little puppy are quite impressive.  In terms of processing performance per watt and circuit board real estate, the performance delivered in this Montevina-based design is quite impressive.  Anyway, here are the numbers so you be the judge:

 

Power Requirements [with 4GB of system memory delivered by two DDR3 SO-DIMMS (PC3-8500)]

Typical Values - Idle State

CPU Speed      Model Number            +12V               +3.3V

 2.26GHz             SP9300                   1.17A              150mA

 1.2GHz               SU9300                   1.45A              150mA

 

Typical Values - 100\% CPU Stress State                    

CPU Speed      Model Number            +12V               +3.3V

 2.26GHz         SP9300                       2.70A              150mA

 1.2GHz           SU9300                       1.98A              150mA

 

There is a weird thing going on with the 1.2GHz processor in the idle state that we need to figure out.  It could be a testing error because this number should be less than that of the higher power 2.26GHz processor.  In our AMC processor card design, the various voltage levels needed on the card are derived from the incoming +12V delivered by the system power supply of the MicroTCA chassis.  The +3.3V is the Management Power in the uTCA/ATCA world, so there isn't a lot of drain on this particular voltage by the AMC processor card.  The thermal performance for these two processors operating on the AMC processor card is very good.  Both CPUs operating on different versions of the AMC stay well within the 30W to 40W range prescribed for single-width, full-size and single width, mid-size AdvancedMC processor cards.  We would recommend using the Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo Processor SU9300 for single-width/mid-size AMC applications.

 


Benchmarks

We found that the benchmark performance results for the Trenton MCP6792 AMCs were on par and in some cases out performed the previous versions of dual-core, single processor boards.  Benchmarks always need to be taken with a grain of salt, but here are the results of the SiSoft Sandra benchmark test results for the AMC as compared to the previous generation dual-core processors on one of our PICMG 1.3 SHBs:

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Here's the same benchmark data in a tabular format:

32i9CB3CC74AF247946

 

Application Heads-Up

Now for a change of pace.  We started work a few months ago on an embedded motherboard based on the Nehalem-EP processors and the Tylersburg chipset.  Trenton and the Intel® Embedded and Communications Group will present a joint webinar on Thursday, April 16th at 2PM EDT / 11AM PDT to discuss Trenton's upcoming server motherboard product using the new Intel® Xeon® 5500 processor series.  This one-hour webinar will offer a preview of Trenton's motherboard design and discuss applications that will benefit from this product.  I hope you have some time to attend this webinar and if so here is the link to register:

Trenton Server Motherboard Webinar. 

 

Thanks,

Jim Renehan
Trenton Technology

I was in hopes of sharing some power and benchmark data with you on an advanced AMC processor card that we are developing using the Penryn SFF processor and the small form factor Intel GS45 Express chipset in this blog. However, that will have to wait until next time. Implementing some IPMI-related code specified in the MicroTCA PICMG specification is giving us fits and a less than cooperative vendor isn’t helping our product release schedule one little bit. Ah well that’s life in processor board development land! We now have the situation under control so I should be able to share the test and product qualification data with you in my next blog.

 

In this blog I would like to share with some interesting information that compares a single board computer with two single core processors to an SBC using one quad-core CPU. We’re finding that more of our customers are asking questions such as; “Does a single quad-core CPU outperform an SBC with two, single core processors?” Of course we all know the correct answer is “It Depends…” but the following data tells an interesting story.

 

Benchmark Parameters & Board Specifications

First let me set the stage. This OEM customer has used our dual processor NLT board for a number of years and their end-user customers are very happy with the performance results in their specific application. The Trenton NLT board uses the Nocona-Lindenhurst platform. The OEM was looking for a way to increase performance, reduce cost while increasing the cooling and power efficiency of the system design. The Trenton MCXI board has a single processor with the Intel 5000P (i.e. Blackford) chipset and supports a variety of multi-core processor options. Here are the specifics of each board and the benchmark test parameters used in the performance comparison:

 

Board & Test Specs.

Trenton NLT, PICMG 1.3 SBC/SHB

Trenton MCXI, PICMG 1.3 SBC/SHB

CPU Number

Two

One

CPU Desc.

Single Core, 64-bit Intel Xeon (Nocona)

Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor E5440 (Harpertown)

Core Speed

3.4GHz used in testing, customer actually uses the embedded 3.2GHz/1MB L2 Cache CPU in the application

2.83GHz (embedded CPU)

L2 Cache

2MB

12MB (2x6MB shared)

TDP / Tcase (max)

110W / 72° C

85W / 67° C

FSB

800MHz

1333MHz

O/S

Windows XP, SP2

Windows XP, SP3

HDD & Interface

Maxtor D70 X / UltraATA 100

WD800 / SATA II 300

System Memory

2GB / DDR2-400 DIMMs

4GB / FB-DIMMs DDR2-667

 

Benchmark Test Data

Here is a table with the raw data numbers obtained in our benchmark comparison tests:

Benchmark Test
Program

Specific Test
Name

Trenton NLT SBC
TWO - 3.4GHz with 1MB L2 Cache - Xeon (Nocona)
800MHz - System Bus

MCXI with ONE Intel Quad Xeon Harpertown 2.83GHz, 1333MHz FSB, 12GB L2 Cache (E5440), 4-1GB DDR2-667 FB DIMMs

PCMark 2004/2005

CPU Bench

 


 

Memory Bench

3463

4856

 


 


  

SISoft Sandra
2005

CPU Arithmetic
Drystone

19873

67369

CPU Arithmetic
Whetstone

13471

28588

CPU Multi-Media
Integers

49018

149222

CPU Multi-Media
Floating Point

63850

168665

Memory Bandwidth
Integers          

3586

4255

Memory Bandwidth
Floating Point

3580

4255

 


 


  

Winstone 2004

Business Suite Benchmark

22

26.4

 

Test Results

Of course benchmark data is very subjective and can vary from system-to-system and application-to-application. System memory, HDD type and software can be modified to change the benchmark test results; however, this basic set of data confirms that a single board computer using a more recent quad-core processor should be able to out perform a legacy dual processor board with two single core processors in most applications.

 

System Design Savings

Intel has done a great job in recent years of improving the thermal efficiency of high-performance processors while increasing computing performance capabilities with the introduction of multi-core processors. In this application the customer saves in a variety of ways:

>>    Lower CPU thermal design power (TDPs) results in less costly system fans

>> Tcase ratings are maintained in order to take advantage of these lower TDPs

>> Changing to a single, quad-core processor on a single board computer will result in the customer saving about 16.5\% in SBC costs

>> Power supply simplification will also lead to additional system cost savings

 

 

 

Next time look for some design information and benchmark data on the upcoming Trenton MCP6792 AMC Processor card featuring the Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 processor and the card’s SFF Intel GS45 Express chipset.

 

 

Thanks,

Jim

 

 

Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:27 PM
Message Edited by pmahler_intel on 03-12-2009 08:59 AM

It wasn't too long ago that the terms "AMC" and "Performance" were mutually exclusive. Trenton has long focused on designing and building, full-size, PICMG 1.0 and 1.3 high-performance single board computers and system host boards. So what has changed to expand Trenton's focus beyond its core engineering expertise?

 

The introduction of the new Penryn-class of dual-core, small form factor (SFF) processors and the small form factor Intel GS45 Express chipset brings a new and unique combination of performance, size and thermal efficiencies to AMC card designs. There are a few design challenges that we came across in developing the Trenton MCP6792 AMC Processor card that I would like to share with you.

 

1. You need a really, really good board house! -- Even though the size of the processor and chipset are each only 22mm square, the density of the components pin arrangement and memory interface rules are going to drive you to a bare board design of 8, 10, 12 or more layers. The available AMC real estate is going to require a fair number of blind and buried vias in the bare board design. To illustrate the card density point, here is our factory assembly drawing for the topside of the Trenton MCP6792 card:

 

48iB3C2F1E002772E44

 

 

2. You need an even better manufacturing facility!! - To paraphrase the real estate agents, the most important aspect of a high performance AMC card is "component density, component density and component density." Trenton's manufacturing facility has the expertise needed to build repeatable and reliable small form factor card designs because of the accuracy of our pick and place card assembly machines. You're going to need to use some extremely small components in your card design so the required repeat accuracy of your assembly machine becomes very critical. You will also need to place a large number of components on the bottom side of the AMC without violating any clearance specifications. Here is our factory assembly drawing for the bottom side of the Trenton MCP6792 card:

 

 

49iAA2AAC77B2C29F0A

 

 

 

3. The various AMC, MicroTCA and AdvancedTCA specifications are going to drive you toward a soldered-down processor design. -- This may present you with some future product mix/availability limitations.

 

 

4. The SFF chipset offers more PCI Express routing options to the backplane than are currently supported by the PICMG MicroTCA and AdvancedTCA specifications. - Don't let this specification limitation hold you back in your AMC design. We're figuring that the specifications are going to be updated at some point, so you ought to design in a way to take advantage of all the available PCIe routing options out of the chipset.

 

 

5. TPM and IPMI are key requirements to implement in many AMC applications. - An external TPM will achieve full compliance with version 1.2 of the Trusted Computing Group specification. We implemented an external TPM on the AMC because we took this approach in other Trenton board designs and it meets the full compliance required in many military and aerospace applications. The chipset has a feature called Intel Trusted Execution Technology or Intel TXT capability that provides a level of platform security and protection that may be acceptable in most applications. IPMI is a must in many telecommunication applications and we implemented some hardware and firmware IPMI features that will be useful in non-telecommunication applications.

 

Did any of you experience similar AMC design challenges? If so, I'm sure the rest of the design community would be interested in hearing about your experiences. Perhaps you could post a completely different list of challenges?

 

In a future blog on small form factor product designs, I will share with you some of our benchmark data on the Trenton AMC6792 AMC Processor card featuring the Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 processor and the card's SFF Intel GS45 Express chipset.

 

 

 

Thanks,

Jim

 

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Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:30 PM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-25-2009 06:22 PM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-25-2009 06:24 PM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-26-2009 06:25 AM

I'm sure you're all about as ready as I am to see this election season come to a close. It seems like we've heard enough promises from the candidates to last us a lifetime and then some. In this blog installment I'll talk about a few chassis design things that we did to help one of our customers turn the benchmarking and performance promises of multicore technology into operational reality in a surveillance aircraft application.

 

Benchmarks - Which multicore processor fits best in this application? Here's a small sample of the benchmark test results for a selection of multicore processors running on various Trenton PICMG 1.3 System Host Boards (SHBs). These test results were used to drill down to the processor architecture that would meet all of the performance and cost parameters of the application.

 

 

 

A single processor SHB architecture provided the best fit for all of the application's performance, cost and thermal specification parameters. The final system configuration uses the Trenton TQ9 board with the long-life, embedded Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q9400. The non-embedded Q9450 processor performs about the same as the Q9400 in this particular application. Initial Q9400 availability lagged the Q9450 and that's why the Q9450 was used during benchmarking.

 

 

Chassis Airflow - We designed and built a four SHB segment backplane for the customer that allowed them to cluster four Trenton TQ9 cards in a single 4U chassis. The PICMG 1.3 backplane design also included PCI Express and PCI-X option card slots within each SHB segment to accommodate the COTS plug-in cards used for the I/O and communications of the surveillance systems on the aircraft. The chassis design includes high availability, high capacity, hot swap fans. The cable routings ensure that air flows unimpeded through the chassis as shown in the photo below:

 

 

 

 

So far the system is exceeding the end user's system performance parameters. Trenton's longstanding relationship with the various incarnations of the Intel Embedded and Communication Alliance group over the years has provided us with the knowledge and detailed Intel product information necessary to design the optimum multicore processor platform solution for this customer. Our ability to engineer and manufacture system host boards, backplanes and a rugged chassis to withstand the rigors of the aircraft installation has enabled the customer to meet and exceed the expectations of their military end users.

 

 

Just think if the folks running for elective office this year could deliver on some of their promises. Wouldn't that be something to see? Drop me a line if you have any comments or would like detailed technical information on the system solution discussed here, additional details on our benchmark testing results or other application information.

 

 

Thanks,

Jim

 

 


Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:32 PM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-22-2009 08:40 AM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-22-2009 08:41 AM

You know what it's like when you have that "A Ha" moment. Well we have been getting a lot of these lately from various customers. What's driving these reactions are the implications of having two low voltage Harpertown processors running on Trenton's MCX/MCG system host boards and what this means to applications that require maximum performance with minimum heat generation. The processors I'm speaking about are the embedded Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processors L5410 and L5408. The performance and thermal design power (TDP) ratings of 50 Watts and 40 Watts respectively have significant implications in the high-end performance segment of the embedded system market that Trenton serves.

 

Now I know that 40W or 50W TDPs sounds horrible compared to the sub-20W TDP ratings common in the low-end, commodity driven portion of the embedded system market. However, the reality we deal with everyday in the embedded system market segments that we serve is a demand for a level of processor performance that in the past has precluded most low power processor solutions. The Intel L5410 and L5408 are rapidly changing this performance vs. heat paradigm.

 

For example, in a surveillance aircraft application, the system needed requires four system host boards with each board having two, Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processors L5408. This system is managing incoming data from a variety of sources, processing all this data and driving the display and communication systems needed to act on these critical inputs. Data processing time and accuracy are critical as well as the need to have a system that generates as little heat as possible. It would have been next to impossible to design a system to meet all of the customer's performance and thermal requirements without the L5410 or L5408 processors.

 

 

Next time I'll share with you some of the system design details regarding the chassis airflow design and the new four-segment PICMG 1.3 Ethernet fabric backplane we produced for this system application.

 

Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:36 PM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-25-2009 06:40 PM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-25-2009 06:40 PM

We have been designing single board computers for compute-intensive industrial applications at Trenton for long time now. Is there anybody out there old enough to remember the 8088 processor? I wouldn't say that "we've seen it all" over these past thirty years, but we've seen our fair share of processor advances and architecture changes. The one thing that has remained constant over this time period is that as processing speed and capability kept increasing, so did the heat generated by the CPU. That is, until now.

 

We're very pleased that this processing capability vs. thermals SBC design paradigm at our end of the embedded computing application spectrum is finally starting to shift in the customer's favor with the advent of multi-core processing processor architectures from Intel®. In our product line the Trenton SLT/SLIseries of PICMG® 1.3 single board computers or system host boards (SHBs) were the first products to use low power, dual-core Intel® Xeon® processors to provide superior system performance with a low-profile thermal solution. The low-profile heat sinks and the lower CPU power ratings of these SBCs has enabled us to deliver system solutions that use a six-segment backplane to incorporate up to 24 processing cores in a single 4U, 19" rackmount computer. Here are some of the system design details on this Cluster Computing.

 

 

 

 

Next time we'll discuss the systems we are delivering with Trenton MCX/MCG series SBCs using the Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processors Series 5400 (a.k.a. Harpertown) in a few military and  Internet protocol (IPTV) applications.

 

 

Jim Renehan

Trenton Technology Inc.

 

 


 

 

Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:38 PM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-22-2009 09:06 AM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-22-2009 09:07 AM
Message Edited by Jim_Renehan on 05-22-2009 09:10 AM

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