Inspur NF5488A5 Power Consumption
Our Inspur NF5488A5 test server used a quad 3kW power supply configuration.
We managed to get up to 5.2kW which is more than our standard 30A 208V Schneider Electric / APC PDU can handle. We actually had to draw power from two circuits at 17.6C and 72% RH to keep the server online. Our testing window shown here had a +/- 0.3C and +/- 2% RH variance.
One probably would not want to deploy a server like this, but it highlights the need to use higher-power racks with servers like these. 10x of these systems occupying 40U of rack space would use >50kW which is why we often see empty spaces in racks with these servers.
STH Server Spider Inspur NF5488A5
In the second half of 2018, we introduced the STH Server Spider as a quick reference to where a server system’s aptitude lies. Our goal is to start giving a quick visual depiction of the types of parameters that a server is targeted at.
The Inspur Systems NF5488A5 is a solution designed around providing great A100 performance in a flexible configuration. We get more cores in this generation and significantly better performance overall.
Overall, this is a very cool system. If you are building a training cluster these days, getting a higher-end NVIDIA HGX A100 8 GPU system is the way to go. While the cost is higher than on PCIe-based systems, that is not the best way to look at it. Generally, we are seeing cluster-level pricing in the 10-20% higher range for clusters based on machines like the Inspur NF5488A5, but also better performance.
The ability to handle higher-power A100 GPUs in the 400-500W range and the NVSwitch topology means that we get more performance per node. After all, the networking fabric, storage, CPUs, RAM, and so forth are largely similar so it is only a small portion of the cost is higher to go with the HGX A100 8 GPU solutions. That is a key reason that the market has shifted to this form factor from being PCIe dominated a few years ago.
The Inspur NF5488A5 is a solid server. It is built in a highly serviceable fashion. It performed well for us. From the exterior, it may look like a small upgrade over the previous generation NF5488M5 that we reviewed. At the end of the day, we get much faster CPUs, GPUs, networking (with PCIe Gen4). We also get more memory capacity and bandwidth. Overall, it is just a better platform and not by a small increment.