Supermicro Buyer's Guide

by Drew Robb

It may not be a household word, but SuperMirco is succeeding selling blade, rack and tower servers to all sizes of companies -- from small businesses to the Fortune 1000 enterprises.

SuperMicro isn't a company that is on the tip of the tongue when it comes to servers. Yet this company has quietly built up a decent volume of market share and offers an extensive product portfolio that serves the SMB market as well as the Fortune 1000.

"Supermicro sells primarily through distributors, which include value added resellers and system integrators, and to a lesser extent to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as through a direct sales force," said Tau Leng, GM of Supermicro. "In 2009, Supermicro products were purchased by over 500 customers, most of which were distributors in approximately 76 countries.

Sales for the year amounted to $724.1 million. Of that, approximately 65 percent were sold through third-party distributors and resellers. Direct sales made up the remaining 35 percent.

What does Supermicro sell exactly? It has a surprisingly wide variety of products which include x86 architecture motherboards, chassis, rackmount servers, blade servers, storage systems, desktops, workstations, graphics processing unit (GPU) supercomputers, embedded systems, rack offerings, networking products, add-on cards, and server components.

"GPU supercomputing now provides 2 TFLOPS in 2U," said Leng.

The company tests, integrates and assembles its products primarily in the US. More recently it expanded its operations by developing a European and an Asian integration center. It also utilizes contract manufacturing partners worldwide.

Leng said that the primary company differentiators are application optimization and resource optimization. Application optimization refers to the ability to configure a Supermicro system to fit exactly a customer’s requirements through a deep product selection options. This amounts to 4,800 SKUs including over 750 server systems. In addition,, the company provides the ability to customize systems with Supermicro’s UIO (Universal I/O) add-on cards.

"Resource optimization covers our capability to integrate increasing levels of functionality into the server system and its components to improve costs and reliability, and to expand functionality," said Leng.

Rack Servers

Supermicro offers racks ranging from 1U up to 4U. Many of these models have gone through major changes over the past year. This includes increased system-level efficiency, increased density and greater density and the latest Intel Xeon processors.

The dual-processor SuperServer 6026 series, for instance, is available with quad-core and dual-core Xeon 5600/5500 Series processors in a 2U form-factor. According to Leng, these systems are ideal for network infrastructure, front-end enterprise, and minimal-downtime cluster server systems. Power supplies have 94%-plus efficiency. Greater integration has been added in terms of 10GbE, InfiniBand, 6Gb/s SAS 2.0, IPMI 2.0 or 4 LANs onboard.

"Target audiences include enterprise-class applications requiring the greatest computing performance and the most energy-efficient technologies in a highly integrated and flexibly configurable platform.

Another rack option is the 2026TT-H6IBQRF. This 2U rackmount server system includes Xeon 5600/5500 series processors and up to 192 GB of RAM.

"Planned future developments for these rack servers include the integration of low-power processors such as Intel Atom," said Leng.

Tower Servers

Supermicro has several tower options. These have also gone through significant changes in the past year.

"Power efficiency has become more important, resulting in lower noise solutions that can fit in quiet office environments and research areas," said Leng. "With high-performance systems more common, redundancy and other high availability features have become more important."

The SYS-7046A-HR+F: 4U tower uses the Xeon 5600/5500 series, has up to 288GB of RAM, 7x PCI-E slots and 8 SATA drive bays

Blade Servers

Blades are also abundant within the Supermicro catalog. They have been upgraded with the latest processors as well as a larger range of high-speed interconnections. Leng calls attention, in particular, to the TwinBlade server which provides two nodes per TwinBlade. Each node supports two six-core/quad-core Intel Xeon 5600/5500 processors or two AMD twelve/eight-core Opteron 6100 processors with 128 GB RAM and 2 SATA drive trays. It is targeted at cloud computing, enterprise applications, high-performance computing, and data centers.

This article was originally published on Friday Aug 27th 2010
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