At Intel Vision 2022, we had the chance to see many cool server products on the floor that we have not gotten to see with the slower pace of events up until recently. While at the event, we were able to stop by the Supermicro booth and found something interesting: the company has a new 2U 4-node single socket per node platform. The Supermicro GrandTwin is a new line from the company that we have not reviewed yet.
New Supermicro GrandTwin 2U4N 1P Ice Lake
This was an Intel show, so it was one that we expect Intel-only solutions to be featured in. What caught my eye was this view. Below is a Supermicro BigTwin that we have seen for generations. On top though, is a new platform Supermicro is calling the “GrandTwin”. This is a new line of 2U4N servers from Supermicro and not a one-off platform.
As a quick note, that node atop the GrandTwin is the BigTwin node we showed the low-profile 75W TDP ATS-M card in. You may have seen that node already in Intel Arctic Sound-M from Intel Vision 2022 or our recent video recap of the event:
While the rear of the system looks different as a PSU and fan wall, the front looks very different indeed:
The GrandTwin has front I/O and the nodes are serviced from the front. One can have only fans and PSUs on the hot aisle making service a bit nicer. We asked and there will be rear options for additional rear I/O in the future as well.
One challenge with this is that one gets less storage, but for many applications only a handful if any storage devices are used in each node with more storage delivered via the network. Supermicro also has the option to replace the storage cages seen here with room for PCIe NICs and accelerators.
Here is an example where the drive was swapped out for the AIOM NIC module, although an extra NIC is not installed. There is also support for low profile cards like the ATS-M 75W card we saw previously (as well as others.)
Here is the node itself, one can see that the entire front panel is designed to be modular and that is what allows for the flexibility. There are also a number of cabled PCIe options that help with the overall flexibility of what one can install.
Here is the layout with something I wanted to show. The node we saw has an unpopulated package. There is a version of this motherboard with a SAS controller. I asked about this and apparently there is a customer that still wants the Broadcom/ LSI controller built-in.
Here is the block diagram of the node as well.
Since the one we looked at during the Intel show was an Ice Lake Xeon, it has only 64 lanes of PCIe from the CPU and then additional PCH (C621A) lanes and I/O as well. Of course, we expect future chips to have more I/O and that will lead to potentially more flexibility in the future.
For a lot of companies, a single socket server makes sense from a node size standpoint these days. In the GrandTwin, this design gets the benefits of the shared chassis and cooling for lower cost and higher density than 1U servers. There are applications like CDNs that this is a great fit for. We could also see this being an interesting 1P Ice Lake Xeon hosting platform.
Looking forward, this is a line that Supermicro is going to support with future generations of processors so we expect to see more of these in the future and the GrandTwin line to expand. Before arriving at the show, we did not even know this existed so we did this little piece just to let folks know it is out there.
These single socket make sense with higher TDP chips (and sometimes single socket CPUs are cheaper?)
Network per node is flexible, but I’d be interested in a version for minimal cabling (single management port for all nodes, either pass-through or multihost NIC for single vs splitter cables).
Basically similar as Nutanix ?