Packing as much hardware as possible into as small a space as possible is the name of the game when it comes to server technology today. At CeBIT, Supermicro have been showing off their new 2U Twin2 server.
The Supermicro 2U Twin2 is a four server solution with redundant power supplies in a single 2U chassis. There will be two versions - hard wired and hot plug. The difference is that in order to change a server inside the hard wired version, you need to remove the chassis cover, unplug the power connector from the server board before you can replace it. In the new hot plug version which is expected at the end of March, the power plug is replaced by a power strip which will slide in and out of a connector inside the chassis.
The technical specifications of the 2U Twin2 are impressive. The motherboards (nodes) are dual processor and capable of supporting the Intel Nehalem quad core processors. Later this year Supermicro will move to 6-core processors. With four of these motherboards per 2U Twin2, this means you can have from 32 - 48 server cores in a 2U chassis.
Memory is standard DDR3 and the latest server boards support 12 memory slots. With 8GB chips still scarce and the prices showing little downward pressure, this means that most people will be restricted to around 48GB per server. This will be more than most people need, even for virtualisation and consolidation. Those who want to use this for heavy duty database and HPC tasks will also find the memory/core ratio in their favour.
On the back of each 2U Twin2 are a pair of 1GB Ethernet ports with no current plans to add 10GbE support. Instead, Supermicro is offering its own plug-in cards for those who need 10GbE. As virtualisation really stresses the network layer, this may be a bottleneck for a number of applications. As well as the Ethernet connections there is an Infiniband controller on each node.
The first generation of 2U Twin2 will be powered by two redundant 1kW power supplies although these are due to be replaced by 1.2kW supplies shortly. According to Supermicro, they have run a number of tests and have reached a peak performance of 375 GFLOPS/kW which is extremely impressive.
12 hard drives are mounted at the front of the chassis although there is no internal SAN mechanism not does Supermicro have management software allowing you to easily configure the drives as SAN and implement Boot from SAN for the nodes. This is something that needs to be addressed soon. Drives can be either SAS or SATA running at 3GB/s.