At Xilinx XDF 2018 I saw a really interesting box in the Xilinx Alveo showcase: a Supermicro 2U server. Normally, a Supermicro-based demo system would be a non-story at such an event. In this same room, we saw a Supermicro motherboard in the AMD EPYC – Xilinx Alveo FPGA solution from BOXX. You can read about that one here: Hardware Behind the AMD EPYC and Xilinx Alveo BOXX. Something that many people do not know, Supermicro makes not only Intel and AMD based x86 systems. The company also makes IBM Power solutions. We have seen the Power8 servers, but this was the first time we have seen the Power9 solution live. Since we recently covered the Raptor Computing Systems Talos II Lite and Blackbird, we wanted to show off another Power9 solution we saw.
The Supermicro P9DSU-C Based Power9 Server
While many do not know Supermicro makes these, the systems are sold by IBM as their Power9 solutions. You can see the product pages for the IBM LC921 and LC922. Here is the 2U IBM LC922 OpenPOWER system shown off at the show:
You can see the Xilinx Alveo FPGA accelerator above the redundant power supplies. This layout to STH readers may seem familiar. We have seen it in a number of Supermicro Intel Xeon “Ultra” servers along with AMD EPYC systems as we saw with NVIDIA GPU in an AMD EPYC Server. Indeed, the Xilinx Alveo is placed in the same spot we had our NVIDIA GPU in that article.
The IBM Supermicro OpenPOWER collaboration has been announced for some time. It is not on Supermicro’s main website although we found a firmware reference for the “Boston” platform that originally became available in may 2018.
Here is the IBM parts list for the LC922. You can see this is a Supermicro SC826 class 2U chassis with the P9DSU-C motherboard. One of the more interesting features in that is the part line for the AOC-2UR66-i4XTF-IB001. In the system, this is the vertical PCIe riser assembly in the middle of the system (toward the bottom of the Xilinx Alveo PCIe card.) Supermicro puts networking on this riser in its Ultra servers so the heatsinks you see are not surprising. That AOC-2UR66-i4XTF-IB001 on the IBM product page says “2U UIO NIC PCIe adapter with integrated 4-port 10 GbE Base-T, Intel XL710, and CAPI.” For the water cooler server trivia buffs out there, this is an example where Supermciro makes both Power9 dual-socket servers and CAPI enabled boards.
It does not appear as though you can order a Supermicro P9DSU-C directly from the company. You likely need to buy an IBM LC921 or LC922 from IBM. For the industry analysts that read STH, this is an example where the company has footprint beyond x86, even if cursory research on their website would not indicate it.
The bigger implication is that Xilinx and IBM are engaged in bringing FPGAs to interconnect generations beyond PCIe 3.0. The Xilinx Alveo line is the start of solutions that the company will bring out in 2019. We are excited about the possibilities of a Xilinx Versal OpenCAPI / OpenPOWER solution in 2019.