Supermicro's MicroCloud SYS-5038ML-H8TRF

Supermicro's 3U MicroCloud chassis is not a competitor for "advanced" micro servers such as AMD's SeaMicro SM15000 or HP's Moonshot. Advanced micro servers save power and keep management costs low due to an integrated fabric that routes networking and storage traffic very fast inside the box and only needs to be attached to the core switch via a few cables outside. You could say that the rack switch has been upgraded and integrated.

The Supermicro MicroCloud is a lot simpler. Only the power and cooling is shared among the nodes; there is no sophisticated integrated network or storage backplane. The MicroCloud still needs a separate switch and storage is pretty straightforward: each node has access to two disks.

Basically the MicroCloud is just a bunch of server nodes that share two redundant power supplies and cooling (4x 8 cm fans). As a result, it is a dense and inexpensive way to bundle eight (up to 24 in some SKUs) low-end servers. It is clearly targeted at the HPC and hyperscale datacenter where people want a "blade-like" server chassis but do not want to pay for features they rarely/never would use (e.g. centralized remote management/KVM, integrated switching, and SAN technology).

We've heard from several resellers that this chassis has been very successful, not in the least for being simple and affordable. Each node has a dual gigabit Intel i350 gigabit controller and one Ethernet interface for remote management; a KVM connector is also available. If you need more networking speed, one PCIe x8 slot is available.

HP Moonshot Low-End Server Building Blocks
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  • Wilco1 - Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - link

    GCC4.9 doesn't contain all the work in GCC5.0 (close to final release, but you can build trunk). As you hinted in the article, it is early days for AArch64 support, so there is a huge difference between a 4.9 and 5.0 compiler, so 5.0 is what you'd use for benchmarking. Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - link

    You must realize that the situation in the ARM ecosystem is not as mature as on x86. the X-Gene runs on a specially patched kernel that has some decent support for ACPI, PCIe etc. If you do not use this kernel, you'll get in all kinds of hardware trouble. And afaik, gcc needs a certain version of the kernel. Reply
  • Wilco1 - Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - link

    No you can use any newer GCC and GLIBC with an older kernel - that's the whole point of compatibility.

    Btw your results look wrong - X-Gene 1 scores much lower than Cortex-A15 on the single threaded LZMA tests (compare with results on http://www.7-cpu.com/). I'm wondering whether this is just due to using the wrong compiler/options, or running well below 2.4GHz somehow.
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - link

    Hmm. the A57 scores 1500 at 1.9 GHz on compression. The X-Gene scores 1580 with Gcc 4.8 and 1670 with gcc 4.9. Our scores are on the low side, but it is not like they are impossibly low.

    Ubuntu 14.04, 3.13 kernel and gcc 4.8.2 was and is the standard environment that people will get on the the m400. You can tweak a lot, but that is not what most professionals will do. Then we can also have to start testing with icc on Intel. I am not convinced that the overall picture will change that much with lots of tweaking
    Reply
  • Wilco1 - Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - link

    Yes, and I'd expect the 7420 will do a lot better than the 5433. But the real surprise to me is that X-Gene 1 doesn't even beat the A15 in Tegra K1 despite being wider, newer and running at a higher frequency - that's why the results look too low.

    I wouldn't call upgrading to the latest compiler tweaking - for AArch64 that is kind of essential given it is early days and the rate of development is extremely high. If you tested 32-bit mode then I'd agree GCC 4.8 or 4.9 are fine.
    Reply
  • CajunArson - Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - link

    This is all part of the problem: Requiring people to use cutting edge software with custom recompilation just to beat a freakin' Atom much less a real CPU?

    You do realize that we could play the same game with all the Intel parts. Believe me, the people who constantly whine that Haswell isn't any faster than Sandy Bridge have never properly recompiled computationally intensive code to take advantage of AVX2 and FMA.

    The fact that all those Intel servers were running software that was only compiled for a generic X86-64 target without requiring any special tweaking or exotic hacking is just another major advantage for Intel, not some "cheat".
    Reply
  • Klimax - Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - link

    And if we are going for cutting edge compiler, then why not ICC with Intel's nice libraries... (pretty sure even ancient atom would suddenly look not that bad) Reply
  • Wilco1 - Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - link

    To make a fair comparison you'd either need to use the exact same compiler and options or go all out and allow people to write hand optimized assembler for the kernels. Reply
  • 68k - Saturday, March 14, 2015 - link

    You can't seriously claim that recompiling an existing program with a different (well known and mature) compiler is equal to hand optimize things in assembler. Hint, one of the options is ridiculous expensive, one is trivial. Reply
  • aryonoco - Monday, March 09, 2015 - link

    Thank you Johan. Very very informative article. This is one of the least reported areas of IT in general, and one that I think is poised for significant uptake in the next 5 years or so.

    Very much appreciate your efforts into putting this together.
    Reply

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