back to article In-depth: Supermicro's youngest Twin is a real silent ice maiden

Supermicro has released the first of its new line of Twin series unblade* servers and El Reg has taken the opportunity to given them a right good kicking. The 2028TP-DC0FR and 2028TP-DC1R models have crossed our lab and here's what's what with the 2015 Twins. As would be expected when designing a line of mostly similar …

  1. InfiniteApathy
    Thumb Up

    Mr Pott

    I find myself quite envious of your home lab

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Mr Pott

      It's a work lab, sir. The "home" lab is a Sandy Bridge (see here,) a pair of ioSafe 5 bays, a really beat up old Core i3 and some WD sentinels.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Mr Pott

        Just, you know, ignore the part where I work from home, so the work lab is...yes, dear...

  2. Bronek Kozicki


    I guess that's ZFS running there? If so, one upgrade I can recommend is small(ish) Intel P3700 for both SLOG device and L2ARC. I'm pretty sure that will push IOPS bit higher (I'm using such setup, but without dedup)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Deduplication?

      Maxta runs their own file system on top of individual "drives" that are running ZFS.

      1. Bronek Kozicki

        Re: Deduplication?

        You mean, ZVOLs? They can make good use of both SLOG and L2ARC as well.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Deduplication?

      You only need the SLOG if you're pushing sync writes - and you're better off using something like a dedicated 16Gb HGST S800z for most purposes or a 8Gb HGST ZeusRAM if you _really_ need blistering iops (Remember: the SLOG is _ONLY_ there for power failure recovery. Under any other circumstances it's a write-only circular buffer and even in the event that the drive goes titsup at the same time as the power goes off, you only lose the pending writes, not the entire FS.)

      (It'd be interesting to see a small fast flashdimm in these applications.)

      As far as dedupe goes: DON'T DO IT. At least not for more than a couple of hundred GB of storage

      ZFS requires about 1GB ram per Tb of disk under most circumstances. Adding dedupe will bump that to 4-6Gb/Tb with the requirement scaling exponentially as storage increases. If you skimp on ram then ZFS works well until it doesn't, at which point it really _really_ doesn't.

      1. Bronek Kozicki

        Re: Deduplication?

        Right. I am well aware of RAM requirements of ZFS deduplication which is why I'm not using it and not recommending it. With this out of the way, lets talk about SLOG.

        As mandated by POSIX, ZFS will by default complete all synchronous (as requested by caller) writes before returning to caller. Also, any metadata changes in ZFS are performed synchronously. Many filesystems use journal for this purpose, ZFS uses ZIL, i.e. ZFS Intent Log which is either carved from storage space of your volume, or placed on dedicated volume depending on 1) presence of "log" device 2) option logbias . Also, ZIL can be explicitly disabled (thus making filesystem behaviour for synchronous writes non-compliant with POSIX)

        Now, assuming that ZFS setup has not been "optimized" either by "logbias=throughput" or "sync=disabled", there is big benefit from having dedicated log device with low latency, because that allows all synchronous writes to complete after intent has been written to such dedicated device (as opposed to writing to data volume with large latency). Looking at latency figures, ZeusRAM is up to 0.023ms and Intel P3700 is around 0.02ms (however, ZeusRAM capacity is only 8GB and P3700 starts at 400GB - which leaves lots of space for other purposes such as L2ARC, however we do not know max latency of P3700 only average). This number should be compared against latency of spinning rust storage (or whatever is used for main data volume) which typically would be somewhere between 2ms - 12ms depending on specific HDD in use. This means that synchronous writes would complete much, much faster if dedicated log device such as ZeusRAM or Intel P3700 was used. Normally this could significantly boost IOPS number.

        However, what we do not know is whether 1) Maxta does actually use synchronous writes 2) its underlying ZFS ZOLVs are not "optimized" to avoid using ZIL. It would be interesting to learn this.

  3. Nate Amsden

    A negative

    A negative is it's supermicro.

    They have their use cases, but not in my datacenters.

    I'll take iLO4 over ipmi in less than 1 heartbeat. My personal supermicro server's kvm management card is still down since last FW upgrade a year ago. I have to go on site and reconfigure the IP. Fortunately i haven't had an urgent need to.

    Looking forward to my new DL380Gen9 systems with 18 core cpus and 10GbaseT.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: A negative

      "My personal supermicro server's kvm management card is still down since last FW upgrade a year ago. I have to go on site and reconfigure the IP"

      One word: ipmitool

      Works well for this kind of shit.

    2. dan1980

      Re: A negative

      I will simply say that I agree that iLO4 is excellent and add that I have found iDRAC to be equally-good; both are polished, useful systems.

  4. Justin Clift

    The Bleeding Edge...

    "By now, there's more than a little of my blood inside those nodes."

    Something like this might help:

    They're made of spectra, so shouldn't be too thick/bulky to be able to feel anything.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: The Bleeding Edge...


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Bleeding Edge...

      I like the gloves as well (and I was going to quote the same line ;-). On the other hand (I'm an economist, so it's allowed) the work inside my systems where I do not lose some skin and blood never come out right. I have to keep going until I've made my sacrificial offering to the Quantum Gods. Or Whomever.

      At least They don't require a burnt offering. Did that with -20kV. Levitated. High. Very, very high. But the VORTAC worked fantastic for the next three years after getting repaired. [Engineering did a reverse power test where the breaker did not break.Oops.]

      1. dan1980

        Re: The Bleeding Edge...

        On rails, Dell are indeed the best I've seen. HPs are easy enough to install but removing them is a bloody nightmare - especially for racks of 1U servers all with cable management arms install - where there is very little room to get at those bastard tabs on the inside. Whoever thought that was a good idea should be made to rack and unrack servers until they understand their mistake.

        I remember the last time I moved to a new data-centre; my fingers were actually bleeding and sore for quite a while afterwards, including a blood-blister under a nail.

        I like my server stuff made out of metal but those little blue plastic tabs on the Dells get high marks from my fingers. A recent replacement of an older HP with a newer Dell (that was a prep rack) was informative - one person and half a minute to remove the rails for the Dell; 2 people, a screwdriver (for leverage and jamming into your hand) and 5 minutes for the HP.

  5. The Original Steve


    Thanks Trevor - insightful and entertaining as ever.

    Can anyone vouch for Supermicro in the real world? We're a MSP and usually resell Dell or HP and bang on Windows, but I'm giving serious thought to a 1U Supermicro + enclosure with Windows Storage Server 2012 X 2 as a single solution starter SAN... Looking at < £10k and it would be the same storage plus additional features as a HP LeftHand starter SAN we resell for over £30k!

    I'm comfortable with Win Storage Server doing its bit - bit we've never used Supermicro before and wondering what we're missing...

    Thanks - Steve

    1. Justin Clift

      Re: Supermicro

      The SuperMicro kit I've used has always been very reliable, and pretty well made.

      Be aware that in general 1U systems are _very_ loud though (all brands). If noise is an issue, a 2U system with the same general specs will be much quieter. All generalising, but keep it in mind if needed. :)

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Supermicro

      I have over 5000 Supermicro servers deployed across my client base, in addition to what's in my lab. The failure rates aren't particularly high, and I did have a very nice conversation with the Supermicro CEO yesterday that completely put to bed al my questions and concerns about their enterprise support. So, I don't know how much more real world you need...ask a specific question, I'll give you a specific answer....

    3. pixl97

      Re: Supermicro

      I've done a number installations with Supermicro gear with 2012R2 as a SAN solution with LSI storage solutions. As you say, you can easily save over $10,000 over what HP or Dell sells.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Supermicro


        1. Bronek Kozicki

          Re: Supermicro

          Many SuperMicro boards have LSI chip onboard (usually 2308), with a choice of firmware either HBA or RAID. Depending on motherboard you will have different sockets for those extra drives. Allows for nice SAS RAID solution without hassle of extra card.

  6. John Geek

    I second the motion on how awful working inside Supermicro hardware is. I have a couple SC847 storage server cases in my lab, and getting into them to recable stuff is a nightmare. even removing the motherboard subchassis, UGH. By contrast, I had to swap a mobo on a HP proliant gen8 box and it was a breeze, not a sharp edge in site.

    beer, because I need a couple strong ones after wrestling with the SC847

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge


      Those aren't "storage server" cases. They're crap which transmits too much vibration between drives to be usable under high seek loads (and they're far too big for the number of drives they hold)

      There's a lot to be said for Dell's 60 drive JBODs (which are rebadged EMCs as far as I can tell) or if you're skint, Infortrend's JB2060s

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (Go to your room, HP, and think about what you've done.)

    (and while you;re back there, can you bring me a printer? One that charges extra for printing on green paper - something that should really be built in, like IPMI in a server?)

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