As Intel prepares to launch their latest Xeon family processor - Nehalem - Datacentre Times talked to Supermicro CEO, Charles Liang on why they were introducing Nehalem into their already busy product portfolio.
At CeBIT, Supermicro had a number of products and motherboards on show that would be supporting Nehalem. Who are you targeting with these new products?
Nehalem offers use much better memory bandwidth, processor performance and improved IO. This is an exciting product and is much better than Harpertown for customers. We have a lot of power hungry customers, especially in the HPC market who really want Nehalem. They are not the only market asking for new products, we are also getting a lot of requests from people running intensive datacentre applications.
HPC is where there is a strong demand straight away but it is not limited just to this market. It will suit any applications today that needs more computing power. For example, we have a good market share in hybrid medical machines. These are very processor and memory intensive. Out customer here are hungry to upgrade their computing system.
HPC customers are not often interested in low voltage versions so will you be offering both high and low wattage versions?
It depends. Thos customers who have a tight budget and who are looking for long term TCO generally look at low voltage. Many customers however, still want the standard processor.
As well as the improvements from the processor, you mentioned memory and IO. What will customers see here?
They will see a much higher memory performance because of DDR 3. The memory and the processor together will really improve the IO. DDR 3 also lowers the cost of memory as you no longer need error correction.,/p>
How do you expect customers to transition to Nehalem devices. The current financial market is squeezing budgets so buying new hardware is not high on anyone's agenda. Will they be buying new or upgrading existing machines?
This is an area that interests me. Customers say that they want to upgrade because they need more computing power but they have a limited datacentre budget. The only way to increase the computing power is to use new technology. Nehalem provides that capacity for them with its higher bandwidth and, better floating point performance. For the datacentre they are going to get better performance per watt and per sq foot.
You ask about how quickly customers will migrate. Because of the power saving and better performance per watt, we expect people will find moving to Nehalem very attractive. We expect to see the take-up much quicker than with earlier generations of processors. Much faster than the processor changes in 2004 and 2006
Supermicro has done a lot of work around its power supplies. Are customers looking at power supply efficiency as part of the TCO?
We have higher efficiency power supplies and better cooling than other vendors. We are already achieving 93% efficiency on the power supply in our new 2U Twin2 server. We will be adding to that a new low voltage memory subsystem and with these two things we can save 10-30% power for customers.
With four separate computing units in the 2U Twin2 server how are you matching power and heat?
With the 2U Twin2 server we are target very high power efficiency. We will have 4 dual socket, quad core processors in a single 2U form factor. Depending on the processors we have power supplies that will be very effective. If a customer wants all the processors to be 85W they will need 1050-1100W. If they want the more powerful 95W processors then they will need 1200W of power. But when you add the hard drives, you could end up needing 1300W of power.
Our heat programme already fits into that design. This is how we can fit all of this with such small PSU into a 2U
We hear a lot of vendors now saying that they can cope with servers at over 30 degrees C for input temperature. But there are issues as to the temperature inside the box. How hot can you go?
I can share as much as possible. We have tried to lower the cost and optimise the efficiency. Customers want performance per watt and performance per $. With the 2U Twin2 server we designed for a 95W CPU but in the future we know we may have to support 105W or even higher. We have already been working on this and had to put more cost there to achieve this. Our strategy is to provide the customer with the best performance per watt and performance per $.
I was surprised to see that the Nehalem servers at CeBIT lacked 10GbE ports on the motherboard. I appreciate that you have a lot of HPC customers with Infiniband but there is a lot of move towards 10GbE. When will we see 10GbE?
We do have a couple of products with 10GbE already but the embedded 10GbE will be in production by April 20
Charles Liang thank you for your time.