Blade Systems Make Perfect HPC Cluster Building Block Solution

May 14th, 2009 1:46 pm
Posted by Maria McLaughlin
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

In some sense, blades have always used a more green design. In terms of energy efficiency, the advantage of blades is the ability to use shared power and cooling. The Appro GreenBlade as an example takes full advantage of these features. Each blade contains a dual socket Nehalem motherboard with 8 cores, up to 48 GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, and an optional 1TB of internal storage. Ten blades fit in 5U chassis for a total of 80 cores, 480 GB of memory, and 10 TB of storage.
By adopting an improved green design, users can expect a 20% overall reduction in power use over previous 1U solutions. Coupled with the power saving capability of the new Intel® micro-architecture, the Appro GreenBlade offers outstanding compute/power efficiency. Power savings are derived from the shared redundant cooling fans and power supplies. The power supplies are high-efficiency (90%+) and configured in a N+1 redundant fashion. Another advantage of bladed systems is the enhanced manageability that 1U solutions cannot offer. Each subrack chassis has a shelf manager that provides power control and staged power-up of all blades. Blades, fans and power supplies can be monitored remotely using standard IPMI/BMC tools.
The system comes in a 5U form factor and holds up to 10 blade nodes in one chassis offering up to 80 processing cores in a computing solution box that can scale as the need for compute capacity expands. By sharing power and cooling in one package, GreenBlade helps HPC users save up-front costs and reduce monthly energy and air-conditioning bills. The Appro GreenBlade system also adds redundancy to each server to prevent unplanned downtime, making it easier to allocate a single spare to protect many servers at once. With its open and modular architecture, it provides the essential elements for building, deploying, maintaining, and upgrading clusters for greater customer flexibility and choice.
In addition, the initial entry price point of the Appro GreenBlade is at price parity with 1U rack-mounted servers, making the crossover point favorable for the GreenBlade system and a better fit for HPC midmarket deployments.
Density and Reliability
A typical 1U solution can hold one or two motherboards. With a single motherboard solution, only 40 cores can be placed in the same 5U space occupied by the Appro GreenBlade System thus requiring additional rack space (and power) to achieve the same core parity. If a dual motherboard solution is used, then the same density can be achieved but at the cost of sharing a single non-redundant power supply for two motherboards. The loss of a power supply or the need to service one of the motherboards requires both motherboards to be out of service. Because the GreenBlades share redundant power supplies, each blade is hot-swappable and can be serviced without affecting any other blade. Eight sub-rack chassis can be housed in a standard 42 rack for a total of 640 cores.

The Intel® Cluster Ready Program enables faster, easier deployment of higher performance HPC clusters based on the Intel® Xeon® processor 5500 series. Intel Cluster Ready makes it simpler to choose, deploy and manage HPC clusters, and ensures application and system interoperability. In doing so, it enables companies to rapidly capitalize on the Intel Xeon processor 5500 series and use it to solve bigger problems, expedite total application performance, and reduce TCO. Bottom line: simpler, more powerful and more cost-effective high performance computing. The Intel Cluster Ready certification gives customers another reason to deploy the Appro GreenBlade solution by offering confidence that the cluster architecture and software are certified to work together. It also gives Independent Software Vendors (ISV) the ability to run their software in this certified cluster platform providing a fast and cost-effective implementation for industry-specific solutions.
Not all blades are created equal. In the HPC sector, blades need to be both green and provide high performance. The Appro GreenBlade System provides an extremely flexible and manageable way to create high-density computing. It is designed to scale, with little effort or re-configuration.
The Appro cluster solution based on the GreenBlade building block offers a variety of interconnect options to include only standard 1U Ethernet or 1U Infiniband (IB) switches. This is accomplished by pre-allocating space in each rack cabinet for two standard 24-port Infiniband or Ethernet switches. This offers flexibility for customers who may choose to deploy either an Ethernet or IB-based HPC cluster. Appro also offers variations in the Infiniband interconnect with ConnectX DDR single IB, DDR dual IB or QDR single IB configurations. The Appro GreenBlade is unique in this category; each blade can provide one or two QDR InfiniBand ports on the motherboard and thus do not require any additional PCIe HCAs to be added to the blade. All these options provide excellent network bandwidth and low latency at an affordable price point to many HPC workloads that require higher performance for their applications.
In addition, the Appro GreenBlade offers standards-based Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) with a choice of Appro’s remote server management or open source cluster management software solutions.
Long considered to be primarily useful only for HPC-scale deployments, blades are beginning to make inroads into the midsize HPC segment. With the introduction of blade products designed specifically for the needs of this market, such as the Appro GreenBlade system, midsize HPC customers are more likely to turn to blades for their day-to-day server infrastructure needs. The Appro GreenBlade is suited for small to midsize departmental and workgroup high performance computing data centers looking for flexibility of system configuration and network connectivity. This addresses the need for performance, reliability, floor space, power and cooling limitations, storage and remote management options at an affordable price. In addition, the Appro GreenBlade is ideal for HPC applications that require high bandwidth and low latency access to system memory, clustering, and Storage Area Networks (SAN).

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Time July 15, 2010 at 4:42 pm

[...] Coupled with the power saving capability of the new Intel® micro-architecture, the Appro GreenBlade offers outstanding compute/power efficiency. Power savings are derived from the shared redundant cooling fans and power supplies. … The loss of a power supply or the need to service one of the motherboards requires both motherboards to be out of service. Because the GreenBlades share redundant power supplies, each blade is hot-swappable and can be serviced without …Read more… [...]

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Author Info


Maria McLaughlin joined Appro in 2002 and has responsibility for all Appro's marketing, which includes branding, product positioning, market analysis, perception improvement, marketing communications and demand creation. She is also responsible for coordinating the product-definition and Go-to-Market Plan activities across Appro. Prior to her role at Appro, Mrs. McLaughlin worked at Hewlett-Packard for 13 years, where she held several marketing roles. She has also international business experience gained working at 3M Corporation in Campinas, SP, Brazil.

Mrs. McLaughlin graduated from Pontificia Catolica University in Brazil with a Bachelor’s degree in Business and English. She has also attended Berkeley Extension University in San Francisco.