IBM has been hinting that motherboard and whitebox server maker Supermicro has been working on two Power-based machines through the OpenPower Foundation, and two machines, code-named “Briggs” and “Stratton” after the two-cycle engines a lot of us know from lawn mowers and go carts in our youth, are the first machines that Supermicro is building on behalf of IBM. (This is significant because Supermicro is the supplier of systems for IBM’s SoftLayer public cloud, and Big Blue wants to add Power compute alongside of Xeon compute on that cloud.)
The Briggs machine uses a Supermicro motherboard, and uses a normal Power8 merchant chip and does not support NVLink ports. The system offers the same processor options – eight cores running at 3.32 GHz and ten cores running at 2.92 GHz and burning around 190 watts for both – and puts two processors in a 2U form factor. The machine has a maximum capacity of 512 GB across 16 DDR4 memory sticks, and memory bandwidth per socket is cut in half with 57.5 GB/sec of bandwidth into L4 cache from the chip and 85 GB/sec per socket going from L4 cache to DDR4 main memory. Briggs has has a maximum of 96 TB of disk storage in a dozen 3.5-inch drive bays. The system has five PCI-Express slots, with four of them CAPI-enabled, and can have two Nvidia Tesla K80 coprocessors installed. (You could install a Pascal Tesla GPU card if you want, obviously, since they come in PCI-Express versions, too. But they are harder to come by, we hear, than the SMX2 versions.)
The Briggs Power System is available starting today and has a base price of $5,999 with a configured system with two ten-core processors and 128 GB running about $11,500, according to Boday.
The Stratton machine is a lot skinnier, and uses a geared-down 130 watt Power8 part to pack more cores into a smaller space.
The Power S821LC is, as the name suggests, a scale-out Power8 machine with two sockets that comes in a 1U form factor. This machine uses an eight-core Power8 chip that runs at 2.32 GHz or a ten-core Power8 chip that spins at 2.09 GHz; both fits in a 130 watt power envelope. The Stratton machine has four 3.5-inch SATA slots and supports up to 512 GB of memory across 16 memory sticks implemented on four memory risers, and has half the memory bandwidth into L4 cache and DDR4 memory as the Minsky machine just like Briggs. Stratton has four PCI-Express 3.0 slots, three x16 and one x8, with the x16 slots being CAPI-enabled, and has room for one Tesla K80 GPU as a coprocessor option
Boday says that the base Power S821LC price is around $5,900, with a configured system (two processors and 128 GB of memory) costing around $10,500.
All three of the new Power Systems LC machines run Canonical Ubuntu Server 16.04, which is the current release, and will be able to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 in the fourth quarter. No word on when SUSE Linux Enterprise Server will be supported on these machines, but it is looking increasingly unlikely unless a lot of customer clamor for it.