Supermicro's 2U Twin

We already introduced Supermicro's Twin 2U server (6027TR-D71FRF) in our Xeon E5 review. It is basically a two node 2U server that offers the density of 1U servers without the disadvantages. Instead of four redundant PSUs you only need two, and instead of noisy, energy hogging and prone to break 40mm fans you get slower turning 80mm fans.

The two servers are held in place using screwless clips.

There was one big disadvantage: there were only four DIMM slots per CPU, which limits each node to 128GB of RAM (8 x 16GB). That is a bit on the low side for 16 cores and 32 threads and makes this server less suitable for virtualization loads.

Of course, this server was never meant to be a virtualization server as it is equipped with 56Gb/s TFDR InfiniBand interconnect technology, great for processing intensive cluster applications like some clustered HPC apps. Nevertheless, we were intrigued. Supermicro has recently released a new Twin, the 6027TR-D70RF+, which has 16 DIMM slots.

Most 2U servers are limited to 24 memory slots and as a result 384GB of RAM. With two nodes in a 2U server and 16 slots per node, you get cram up to 512GB of RDIMMs in one server. The Supermicro Twin node (6027TR-D70RF+) looks like an attractive alternative for the more common 1U and 2U servers:

  • Much more (3, 2 full height) PCIe expansion slots than a 1U, almost as good as a traditional 2U
  • Lower energy consumption as two (up to 95% efficient) PSUs are powering two nodes
  • Much better and more efficient 80mm cooling fans than a 1U
  • Density of a 1U
  • 33% more DIMM slots than a 2U

That all sounds great for any cluster solution including a virtualization cluster, but there is more. If you use LRDIMMs, you can double your capacity. LRDIMMs at 1333MHz are available as quad rank 32GB DIMMs. But before we can introduce you to these DIMMs, we want to take a step back and look at all the RAM options that a typical server buyers has.

An Overview of Server DIMM types
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  • dgingeri - Friday, August 3, 2012 - link

    "Most 2U servers are limited to 24 memory slots and as a result 384GB of RAM. With two nodes in a 2U server and 16 slots per node, you get cram up to 512GB of RDIMMs in one server. "

    It's not one server. It's actually 2 servers. just because they're in a 2U X 1/2 width form factor doesn't mean they're just one system. There are 2 systems there. Sure you can pack 512GB into 2U with 2 servers, but there are better ways.

    1. Dell makes a PowerEdge R620, where you can pack 384GB into 1U, two of those gives you the same number of systems in the same space, with 50% more memory.

    2. Dell also has their new R720, which is 2U and has a capacity of 768GB in a 2U form factor. Again, 50% more memory capacity in the same 2U. However, that's short 2 processor sockets.

    2. Now, there's the new R820. 4 sockets, 1.5TB of memory, 7 slots, in 2U of space. It's a beast. I have one of these on the way from Dell for my test lab.

    Working as an admin in a test lab, dealing with all brands of servers, my experiences with various brands gives me a rather unique insight. I have had very few problems with Dell server, despite having nearly 30% Dell servers. We've had 7 drives die (all Toshiba) and one faceplate LCD go out. Our HP boxes, at less than 10% of our lab, have had more failures. The IBMs, ahile also less than 10%, have had absolutely no hardware failures. Our Supermicros comprise about 25% of the lab, yet contribute >80% of the hardware problems, from motherboards that just quit recognizing memory to backplanes that quit recognizing drives. I'm not too happy with them.
  • JHBoricua - Monday, August 6, 2012 - link


    Sure, you can load each of those Rxxx Dell servers with boatloads of memory, but you fail to mention that it comes with a significant performance/penalty. The moment you put a third Dimm on a memory channel your memory speeds drops from 1600 (IF you started with 1600 memory to begin with) to 1066 or worse, 800. On a virtualization host, that makes a big difference.
  • Casper42 - Friday, August 10, 2012 - link

    No one makes 32GB @ 1600 yet.
    So 512GB @ 2DPC would be 1333
    And 768GB @ 3DPC would be 1066 or 800 like you mentioned.

    384 using 16GB DIMMs would still be 3DPC and would drop from 1600 down to like 1066.

    256GB @ 1600 @ 2DPC still seems to be the sweet spot.

    BTW, why is the Dell R620 limited to 16GB DIMMs? The HP DL360p Gen8 is also 1U and supports 32GB LRDIMMs
  • ImSteevin - Friday, August 3, 2012 - link

    MMhmmm yeah
    Oh yeah ok
    I know some of these words.
  • thenew3 - Friday, August 3, 2012 - link

    The latest Dell R620's are 1U servers that can have two 8 core CPU's and 24 DIMM slots. Each slot can hold up to a 32GB DIMM giving total memory capacity of 768GB in a 1U space.

    We use these in our data centers for virtualization (we're 100% virtualized). Completely diskless (internal RAID 1 dual SD modules for ESXi)

    Each machine has four 10gb NIC plus two 1gb NIC. All storage on iSCSI SAN's through 10gb backbone.

    For most virtualization tasks, you really don't need the 2U R720, which has the same CPU/RAM options but gives you more drive bays and expansion slots.
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  • ddr3memory - Sunday, August 5, 2012 - link

    A few corrections - the 192GB for HCDIMMs is incorrect - it should also be 384GB.

    There is no data available that confirms a 20% higher power consumption for HCDIMMs over LRDIMMs. There is a suspicious lack of benchmarks available for LRDIMMs. It is possible that figure arises from a comparison of 1.5V HCDIMMs vs. 1.35V LRDIMMs (as were available at IBM/HP).

    It is incorrect that LRDIMMs are somehow standard and HCDIMMs are non-standard.

    In fact HCDIMMs are 100% compatible with DDR3 RDIMM JEDEC standard.

    It is the LRDIMMs which are a new standard and are NOT compatible with DDR3 RDIMMs - you cannot use them together.

    The 1600MHz HCDIMM mention is interesting - would be good to hear more on that.
  • ddr3memory - Sunday, August 5, 2012 - link

    I have posted an article on the performance comparison of HyperCloud HCDIMMs (RDIMM-compatible) vs. LRDIMMs (RDIMM non-compatible).

    Cannot post link here it seems - search for the article on the blog:
    Awaiting 32GB HCDIMMs
  • ddr3memory - Monday, August 6, 2012 - link

    VMware has had good things to say about HCDIMM (not a word from VMware about LRDIMMs though). Search on the net for the article entitled:

    Memory for VMware virtualization servers
  • ddr3memory - Monday, August 6, 2012 - link

    The prices mentioned maybe off - I see IBM showing same retail prices for 16GB LRDIMMs/HCDIMMs and similar at the IBM resellers.

    These resellers show 16GB HCDIMMs selling at $431 at costcentral for example, $503 at glcomp and $424 at pcsuperstore.

    Search the internet for this article:

    What are IBM HCDIMMs and HP HDIMMs ?

    It has the links for the IBM/HP retail prices as well as the reseller prices.

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