AMD Offers Five Petabytes of Freedom

By Robert Gelber

September 11, 2012

AMD’s SeaMicro division has announced new microservers and motherboards utilizing the group’s patented Freedom Fabric interconnect. It’s the first new offering from SeaMicro since they were acquired by AMD in February 2012. The new platform, known as the SM15000 is being promoted as “a big data cluster in a 10 rack unit box.”

The SM15000 microserver is designed to maximize bandwidth and storage density, while offering much higher energy efficiencies than conventional servers.  As such, the gear is aimed at high-throughput, big data type workloads using frameworks like Hadoop and Cassandra.  The SM15000 can handle standard enterprise software stacks, including traditional operating systems, like Windows and Linux, as well as hypervisors from VMware and Citrix. 

Even though SeaMicro is now under the AMD umbrella, the new gear supports both Xeon and Opteron chips. An SM15000 chassis can house up to 64 mini-motherboards, which support the upcoming “Piledriver” Opterons as well as low-power “Ivy Bridge” and “Sandy Bridge” Xeon processors. Compute configurations are as follows:

Opteron configurations

  • 64 Eight-core, Piledriver CPUs (512 total cores) at 2.0, 2.3 or 2.8 GHz
  • Up to 64 GB of DRAM per processor (4 TB of memory)

Xeon configurations

  • 64 Quad-core Ivy Bridge E3-1265Lv2 CPUs (256 total cores) at 2.5, 3.1 or 3.3 GHz
  • Up to 32 GB of DRAM per processor (2 TB of memory)
  • 64 Quad-core Sandy Bridge E3-1260L CPUs (256 total cores) at 2.4, 2.5 or 3.2 GHz
  • Up to 32 GB of DRAM per processor (2 TB of memory)

To max out memory for Piledriver configurations, the motherboards need to be equipped with pricier 16GB DIMMs, a disadvantage for those who want to take advantage of the higher memory capacity.

The Freedom Fabric is the magic glue that makes this system unique.  It supports 10 gigabits/sec of throughput to each socket and the ability to drive 16 10GigE or 64 GigE uplinks per chassis.  In aggregate, the fabric supplies 1.28 terabits/sec of bandwidth. 

The system also pushes the envelope on storage capacity. A fully-outfitted chassis can support 64 HDD or SSD SATA drives, one per compute card. A two-rack SM15000 system  encompassing 16 storage enclosures can house up to 1,408 disks, or a whopping 5 petabytes. If more storage is needed, the fabric can be extended to link up additional enclosures.

The SM15000 equipped with Sandy Bridge CPUs are shipping today. For those wanting Piledriver- or Ivy Bridge-based systems, they’ll have to wait until November. Starting prices are around $140K.

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