One of the companies that is really interesting to keep tabs on in the HPC community is Super Micro Computer, Inc.. You’ll find the company’s motherboards, blades, and custom kit in supercomputers from many of the tier 1 and tier 2 manufacturers in HPC, and they are often the premier launch partner when the chip manufacturers announce new chips. insideHPC talked with Don Clegg, the VP of Supermicro, ahead of the conference next week to find out what the company will be showing, and to get a peek at some of the kit that will be showing up the next generation of supers.
Early to market with Fiorano
Supermicro is platform agnostic, applying their engineering and packaging skills to whatever hardware the company’s customers want to build into systems. In terms of platforms of interest to HPC, Supermicro already has solutions built around Intel and AMD chips, as well as NVIDIA’s GPUs, and those offerings continue to grow. During SC09 the company will be showing hardware featuring AMD’s Fiorano chipset, the first native chipset for the Opteron, and the first time gen 2 PCI-e has been available to Opteron users. This chipset supports today’s Socket F systems, but it will also support the future Magny-Cours DDR3-based chips which use Socket G34, so this solution positions Supermicro for the next announcement from AMD. Supermicro is one of the only companies will a Fiorano offering this year: most everyone else is waiting until next year. This early adoption was key in getting Supermicro’s gear into the new 4,320 core supercomputer (with quad Istanbul sockets per blade) headed for PRACE, where the PCI Express 2.0 features will allow that cluster to support data communications over QDR InfiniBand.
2U Twin, the TwinBlade, and partners make the world go ‘round
Supermicro’s 2U Twin will feature prominently in what gets shown at the show. The 2U Twin, featured in this press release, puts two hot-plug dual-processor (DP) server nodes and redundant power into a single enclosure for high availability. One advantage of this form factor over the more traditional 1U twin is the ability to stuff more gear in with the processors, such as additional hard drives. The 2U Twin is part of the Twin line of products that Supermicro co-developed with Intel. The full line includes 1U, the new 2U Twin, and the 2U Twin2 (four nodes).
New at the show from Supermicro this year will be a new TwinBlade, designed for the power conscious, that doubles the number of compute blades per enclosure. Clegg says that their engineers spent a lot of time getting the thermals and power right to be able to move from 10 blades per 7U to 20 blades, and is also doubling their 14 blade density to 28 blades. These configurations will start shipping at the end of this month.
To highlight just how many people use Supermicro’s gear, the company will be featuring partners in their booth running end-user applications throughout the show. Look for folks like Intel, NVIDIA and the Green500 (showing off a GPU-driven demo), LSI, Atipa, 3Leaf, Bright Computing, and others.
What does Supermicro get out of SC?
A question I had was why Supermicro comes to SC at all, given that their customers are the businesses that build supercomputers for users. Clegg explained that part of it is just to meet with those businesses on common ground. “But our business core is to be first to market, and we have to be first with a product that users want.” Not getting it right the first time would leave a big opening for the second to market to fix Supermicro’s misses and take over the market. To make sure that they continue to get it right, they spend a lot of time talking directly to end users about how they use today’s hardware, and what they want tomorrow.