Computer systems have seen a wave of new technology raising performance and reliability to new heights. At the peak is Intel’s Westmere multicore processor (Fig. 1). The six-core Core i7-980X pushes the limits on desktops while its Xeon 5600 counterpart is supporting clusters and cloud alike.
The 32-nm multicore Westmere has the latest hyperthreading with Turbo Boost technology, virtual-machine, and virtual I/O support. Some client versions bundle graphics support while Xeon server platforms incorporate up to 12 Mbytes of L3 cache on-chip. A pair of Xeon chips can run up to 24 threads at one time.
Multiple-channel memory controllers and multiple QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) connections provide the necessary bandwidth to keep the system humming. The Westmere memory controller can handle the latest lower-power 1066-MHz DDR3 memory. Chips with three-channel controllers can deliver data at 25.6 Gbytes/s. The top-end Xeon hits a thermal design power (TDP) of 130 W, but slower versions can cut that in half to only 60 W.
Enterprise System Storage
High performance and high capacity are always at the top of the feature list for storage devices, and LSI’s LSI WarpDrive SLP-300 Solid State PCI Express drive (Fig. 2) is pushing both. Its x8 PCI Express 2.0 interface can handle sustained bandwidths of 1.5 Gbytes/s and 200k IOPS (I/Os/s).
The board is designed for enterprise storage applications including the cloud, high-performance computing (HPC), and transaction processing. It can handle up to six NAND flash modules for 1.7 Tbytes of storage. Drivers for 32- and 64-bit operating systems are included. And, the drive is bootable.
Seagate’s line of TCG-compliant (Trusted Computing Group), self-encrypted enterprise drives includes the 15k-RPM Savvio, the 15k-RPM Cheetah, and the 7200-RPM Constellation (Fig. 3). They are available in 2.5- and 3.5-in. versions with up to 2 Tbytes of storage in the 3.5-in. Constellation ES. FIPS 140-2 Validate SED options also are available.
The Constellation handles near-line-storage chores while the SAS Savvio and Cheetah drives handle mainstream, compute-intensive storage requirements. The drives support 6-Gbit/s SAS interfaces. A variant of the Constellation is available with a SATA interface. Seagate’s PowerChoice technology provides T10-compliant power management.
Supermicro Computer’s SuperServer 6046T-TUF chassis targets embedded applications (Fig. 4). The 4U system can fit in a rack with motherboard options to handle dual-chip, six-core Xeon processors along with a five-hard-drive RAID system and multiple PCI Express adapters.
There are three additional 5.25-in. drive bays. The chassis also has the expansion and capacity to handle heavy loads while keeping the system cool. It’s an ideal home for a set of Seagate self-encrypted drives and LSI’s SS S6200 solid-state drive.
The MSI Big Bang Fuzion (Fig. 5) targets the power users and gamers who want Intel’s Westmere inside. It utilizes the highest-quality components like super-ferrite chokes and Hi-C caps throughout.
The on-board LT22102 HydraLogix Engine from LucidLogix allows multiple video adapters to be ganged together, providing the highest performance available on the desktop. It can handle a mix of GPUs from different vendors or different versions of cards from the same vendor. The latest driver handles DirectX 11.
The motherboard also includes Quantum Wave audio support for THX TruStudio Pro sound support. Overclockers will like the OC Dashboard, which supports real-time overclocking as well as the OC Genie button for one-step overclocking optimization. Of course, the motherboard handles the latest 6-Gbit/s SATA 3 and 5-Gbit/s USB 3.0 interfaces.
Check out “Electronic Design’s Best Computer Of 2010” online at www.electronicdesign.com for a hands-on look at these winners.