ASUS Server at Computex 2018

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ASUS RS720Q E9 RS24 S Sleds
ASUS RS720Q E9 RS24 S Sleds

At Computex 2018, ASUS had an awesome booth. In the booth, we saw everything from new laptops to 20x GPU crypto mining rigs. The commercial products, including business products as well as servers, were located on separate floors. We were able to get a tour of the ASUS server suite and wanted to highlight two products as a large amount of the suite was dedicated to a next-generation platform.

ASUS RS720Q-E9-RS24-S 2U 4-Node

At the booth, we were able to speak with the product manager for an interesting server system The ASUS RS720Q-E9-RS24-S is a 2U 4-node server. We reviewed the previous generation and bought several for the STH / DemoEval lab. You can read that review here ASUS RS720Q-E8-RS8-P 2U 4-Node Xeon E5-2600 V3/ V4 Server Review. The ASUS RS720Q-E9-RS24-S has four separate nodes with dual Intel Xeon Scalable processors (LGA 3647.) Each CPU has six DIMM slots for a total of up to 768GB per CPU and 1.5TB of RAM capacity per node.

ASUS RS720Q E9 RS24 S Sleds
ASUS RS720Q E9 RS24 S Sleds

With this generation, ASUS is adding an OCP networking slot to the machines. That is a choice we really like. Each node also has a PCIe 3.0 x16 low profile slot for additional expansion. The move to the OCP networking slot moves ASUS more in-line with one of the prevailing industry trends which is great to see.

ASUS RS720Q E9 RS24 S Sled Connectors
ASUS RS720Q E9 RS24 S Sled Connectors

Another supremely interesting part of the ASUS RS720Q-E9-RS24-S is how the node mates to the chassis. Often vendors use proprietary connectors to connect nodes to the 2U chassis they rest in. Here, ASUS is actually using what appears to be a PCIe 3.0 x16 edge connector. On the chassis side of the x16 edge connector, we see a Broadcom SAS 3008 controller to support the front hot swap drives.

ASUS KNPA-U16 is how ASUS Does 1P EPYC

At the AMD EPYC launch, we saw a number of ASUS EPYC servers. These are the ASUS RS700A-E9 line. On one of the tables, something caught our eye. It is a single socket AMD EPYC 7000 series motherboard dubbed the ASUS KNPA-U16. We have not seen an announcement on the product. It was on one of the tables without a spec placard and without a “no photographs” sign.

ASUS KNPA U16 AMD EPYC 7000 Series Motherboard
ASUS KNPA-U16 AMD EPYC 7000 Series Motherboard

The overall layout is rackmount chassis optimized. One can see that the CPU and 16x DIMM slots take up the majority of the width of the motherboard. From what we can count, we see:

  • Twelve SATA II ports via:
    • 4x 7-pin SATA III
    • 8x SATA II via two mini-SAS HD
  • Six PCIe headers for cabled NVMe that look like Oculink connectors
  • M.2 internal slot for 2242 to 22110 M.2 SSDs
  • OCP Mezzanine slot for networking
  • 2x PCIe x16 slots, 3x PCIe x8 slots
  • 1x PCIe riser card slot. This could have 24 lanes available.
  • MicroSD card slot
  • USB 3.0 Type A internal header
  • Aspeed AST2500 BMC

Given the number of PCIe slots, NVMe headers, and SATA III ports, this system appears to be using over 120 of the 128 high speed I/O lanes found on a single socket AMD EPYC platform which is awesome. For those looking to use this motherboard in a custom build, we are going to suggest instead buying a server offering complete with the motherboard. These types of rack-optimized designs are often best when paired with a chassis and are laid out specifically for optimized rackmount chassis. We hope to see new system announcement(s) from ASUS soon on the single socket AMD EPYC side.

Final Words

ASUS has been quieter on the server front as of late. We actually use quite a few ASUS servers we bought for the STH DemoEval lab and they have worked well. It is great to see the company innovating on designs. Most of the ASUS server Computex 2018 suite was off limits for photography, but there are some innovative designs as we showed above. As a final parting shot, here is the ASUS Z11PA-U12/10G-2S which has a maximum platform limit of 12 DIMMs aligned in a flying-V configuration to fit dual SFP+ 10GbE networking and multiple PCIe slots/ dual Oculink connectors all in a compact ATX form factor.

ASUS Z11PA U12 10G 2S Motherboard
ASUS Z11PA U12 10G 2S Motherboard

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