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HPE Superdome Flex: The Other Big Iron In The Datacenter

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Not every workload can be chunked up and spread across a relatively loosely coupled cluster of cheap X86 server nodes. Some really do much better running
on a big, wonking, shared memory system. In the wake of IBM's announcement of the Power10-based "Denali" Power E1080 three weeks ago, we have been drilling down into its architecture and also talking about the market for machines with four or more processor sockets.

While a four-socket machine is interesting and covers many of the CPU core and memory bandwidth and capacity needs for very many midrange and large enterprises these days, who need dozens of cores and maybe hundreds of gigabytes to support their core databases and applications, there are always some who need more oomph than this. For many generations of processors now, both Intel and IBM have offered integrated NUMA electronics to lash together the main memory of four or eight sockets, and IBM has even pushed this so-called glueless interconnect approach as far as 16 sockets with its biggest Power8, Power9, and now Power10 servers.

Intel itself delivers UltraPath Interconnect (UPI) links that can do glueless NUMA for up to eight sockets, and frankly, with the high-end "Cooper Lake" Xeon SP processors announced last year, it could probably push that further. Intel's roadmap got all bunched up as the ten-nanometer "Ice Lake" Xeons were delayed again and again. And so when the Ice Lake Xeon SPs finally launched in the spring this year, Intel had a much better core than was in the "Skylake" or "Cascade Lake" chips, and better also than the Cooper Lake cores for that matter, but decided to not drive server makers nuts with socket changes and made Ice Lake Xeon SPs only available on machines with one or two sockets. And the Cooper Lake chip, really not all that different from Skylake Xeon SPs, was only made available on machines with four or eight sockets. The big difference with the Cooper Lake Xeon SPs was that the Skylake and Cascade Lake Xeon SPs had three UPI links per socket running at 9.6 GT/sec, but the Cooper Lake Xeon SPs had six UPI links per socket running at a faster 10.4 GT/sec.

This meant a…
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