Close 4K look at a 4-Node-in-2U All Flash (Optane/NVMe) vSAN ReadyNode™ - The Supermicro SuperServer SYS-2029BT-HNR!

Posted by Paul Braren on Oct 31 2018 (updated on Nov 2 2018) in
  • CPU
  • ESXi
  • Storage
  • VMware
  • Once in a long while, I get an opportunity to get my hands on some amazing hardware, packed with top-flight components. This is one of those times! With permission granted to publish, I'm now able to give you a glimpse into what a fully supported vSAN ReadyNode really looks like, up close and personal. While I'm not quite sure the world is ready to see me in 4K, I think you'll really appreciate all those extra pixels when it comes to the hardware close-ups. Hopefully you'll forgive my brief foray into some overly dramatic, royalty-free musical accompaniment, I just couldn't resist.

    I'm an unabashed hardware nerd.


    I'm eager to give my readers a glimpse into just how amazing it is to have 24 U.2 NVMe drives in one system, with 6 drives connected to each of the 4 servers in this 2U form factor chassis. Inside each node with a heaping dose of ultra-low-latency Intel Optane cache in HHHL PCIe form, Yes, two of those Optane P4800Xs actually fit in each system!

    If you've ever wondered about the the BigTwin™ designation for this 4-in-one SuperServer, Supermicro kindly explained during my visit to their VMworld 2018 US booth.

    Look mom, no RAID cards, and no HBA required! This rig is ALL NVMe, baby!

    With my hundreds of NVMe mentions that started back in 2015, it's apparent that low latency and high queue depths that NVMe offers has been a huge boon to home virtualization enthusiasts. It's finally becoming commonplace in the datacenter too, with decreasing prices in part due to advancements like QLC 3D.

    Worth noting that there are hundreds of vSAN ReadyNodes that work just fine for general purpose workloads, leveraging SATA and SAS based storage, at much more affordable price points. Yes, that's what most customers buy, but it's pretty much All Flash these days, with very few hybrid "spinning rust plus SSD" configs requested by customers lately.

    I love software too!

    vSphere 6.7 Update 1 Released

    I work at a software company, VMware, but I sure do get to talk about a lot of hardware lately, from whatever server vendor the customer prefers, which I quite enjoy!

    VMware vSAN 6.7 Update 1 software is the culmination of years of development and refinement, baked right into that robust ESXi hypervisor. When software defined storage is paired with top-spec gear on the VMware HCG for vSAN such as this fine specimen of a server, HCI (Hyper Converged Infrastructure) solutions are easily able to handle even the toughest abuse that SQL Server, Oracle, and OLTP workloads can muster. For particular hardware configurations, vSAN is even certified for SAP HANA!

    All Flash / All NVMe vSAN ReadyNodes


    While Supermicro may have been first to announce an all NVMe vSAN ReadyNode earlier this year (featuring Intel VMD), HPE and Lenovo now offer all NVMe vSAN ReadyNodes too. All 3 OEMs currently use Intel Optane 3D XPoint for caching, given its unique combination of very low latency and very high write endurance.

    Closing thoughts

    FYI, my Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite continues to serve my home lab quite well, getting this additional house guest onto the network with ease. I'm currently working through a bit of a Mellanox 100GbE switch learning curve, but that's a good problem to have. Did you get that, 100 Gigabit (with fanout to 10/25/40GbE) networking? Pinch me.

    This article and video isn't really about serious work stuff, it's just a bit of fun really. A tantalizing look at future tech coming to datacenters near you. I hope you enjoy it, as I don't know that I'll have another opportunity like this again anytime soon. That's right, I only have access to this borrowed demo system for another few weeks with a focus on getting actual work done internally, testing the vSphere/vSAN 6.7 Update 1 install process, a fair bit of self-training, and quite a bit of enjoyment along the way ;).



    My home lab equipment used to produce this article included my iPhone XS Max set to 4K 30fps, a 12 core Xeon D-1567 Bundle 1 running VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 1, and a Windows 10 20 vCPU VM for Camtasia 2018 editing and render. That MP4 4K render was accelerated using an AMD 7750 GPU, passed-through to the Win 10 VM using VT-d.

    As for the server build’s BOM (Bill Of Materials), that’s in the video description below.

    My role at VMware is Senior Solutions Engineer HCI/vSAN since January 2017, and blogging since 2011. I won't pretend I'd have the opportunity to get my hands on such a pricey All Flash / All NVMe rig if it weren't for my day job, but note that this entire video was voluntarily shot/edited/produced entirely on my own time and dime this past weekend, using this server cluster “vPod” on temporary loan from the TechData Demo Depot. This is not an official VMware video production.


    Close look at a 4-Node-in-2U All Flash [Optane/NVMe] vSAN ReadyNode™ SuperServer SYS-2029BT-HNR [4K]

    YouTube Description:

    Supermicro SuperServer SYS-2029BT-HNR specifications:
    Cache Tier – Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X PCIe NVMe 375GB
    Capacity Tier – Intel SSD DC P4500 Series U.2 NVMe 2TB
    Platform 2U 4N using Super X11DPT-B motherboard
    Networking - Mellanox SN2010 Ethernet Switch for Hyperconverged Infrastructures


    VMworld 2018 US - at Supermicro, Vik Malyala shows us the latest SuperServers and a GPU
    VMworld 2018 US - at Intel, James Myers shows PCIe/Ruler/M.2 NVMe SSDs, Optane, and QLC NAND

    See also at TinkerTry



    See also