Electronic Design
Microserver Has 64 Sandy Bridge Xeons In 10U Rack

Microserver Has 64 Sandy Bridge Xeons In 10U Rack

SeaMicro is pushing more Intel chips again with its SM10000-XE. The 10U microserver platform has 64 of the latest, low power, quad core E3-1260L Intel Sandy Bridge Xeon chips running at 2.4 GHz . This 256 core system complements the SeaMicro SM10000-64HD that has 768 Atom cores (see Server Packs 768 Atom Cores To Take On The Cloud). The systems tie cores, storage and networking using a torus-based interconnect fabric. The torus provides multiple paths between cores providing redundancy and increased bandwidth.

The SM10000-XE complements the SM10000-64HD. The SM10000-XE targets applications that need applications that need high performance SMP while the SM10000-64HD targets applications that need lots of low power cores. Both fit into the same 10U box that uses SeaMicro's 1.28 Tbit/s fabric. The difference is the type of motherboards (Fig. 1) that are used.

Fig. 1: SM10000-64HD motherboard (top) has 3 Atom chips while the SM10000-XE motherboard (bottom) has a single Xeon processor.

The motherboards include memory and SeaMicro's fabric chips. The difference is the processor and its chipset. The SM10000-64HD motherboard has 3 Atom N570 chips while the SM10000-XE motherboard has a single Xeon processor. The Xeon processor needs a heat sink but the cards still fit into the same slot as the Atom cards. The E3-1260L Xeon is a 45W part while the Atom N570 chips use under 8W.

One way SeaMicro saves power on the motherboards is to disable most of the support chipsets because only PCI Express interfaces are used. There is no need for any peripheral interfaces like storage or network support that a typical PC or server would require.

The SM10000-XE takes advantage of Samsung's new ECC SoDIMM. ECC is critical on enterprise systems but ECC is usually found in standard server DIMMs. The system has 2 Tbytes of DRAM using the ECC SoDIMMs.

The 256 cores of the SM10000-XE is linked via 1.28 Tbit/s fabric that is also used in the other SM10000 systems. The SeaMicro fabric ASIC uses only 1W. There are four ASICs on the motherboards. The Xeon motherboards takes advantage of multiple fabric interfaces. In general, a system will employ 64 cards of the same type. The entire SM10000-XE system consumes only 3.5kW.

The 10U systems support up to 64 2.5-in drives (Fig. 2) accessible from the front of the system. These can be SATA hard disks or solid state storage. An FPGA handles the drives as well as the fabric interface.

Fig. 2: The 10U SM10000-XE fits into a standard rack with storage accessible via the front.

The rear of the system (Fig. 3) exposes the Ethernet network support and hot swap power supplies. It supports up to sixteen 10G Ethernet ports. It can handle sixty four 1G Ethernet ports. An FPGA also handles the fabric and Ethernet support.

Fig. 3: The rear of the SM10000-XE provides access to the Ethernet ports.

The storage and network support is shared within the system. This provides a SAN-style support with low overhead. Likewise, the network support provides a managed, switched system SeaMicro provides management software that can partition all aspects of the system including processors, storage and networking. This includes network load balancing.

The SM10000-XE and SM10000-64HD address different enterprise markets. Given the need for compute power, applications that need this level of functionality can take advantage of these 10U systems based on the way parallel processing is utilized. For example, a Hadoop, MemcacheD, video rendering and SQL server applications have different requirements that might suit one platform versus another.

SeaMicro's offerings do not address every many core application but they now target a much wider range. The SM10000-XE shows that they are not limited to handling lots of small server chores.

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