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Cisco UCS M4 Compute Platforms: Performance That Matters

- September 9, 2014 - 0 Comments

Part of last week’s UCS Grand Slam launch event last week in NYC was the announcement of three new compute platforms – Cisco UCS C220 M4, C240 M4, and B200 M4.  Today, Intel announced the new Intel Xeon E5 v3 family of CPUs that will power these new UCS platforms.  Hopefully, this week, now that the confetti has settled from our brand new groundbreaking products like the M-Series with System Link Technology, UCS Mini with the new UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect, and the capacity-optimized C3160 Rack Server, we can highlight some updates to our core compute platforms.

Its easy to get caught up in the new platforms, they are the new vehicles to bring the benefits of UCS to new markets and at a scale that was previously impractical.  But it’s important to remember that the UCS two-socket blade and rack servers were the original foundational platforms to bring the benefits of UCS to the datacenter.  In fact, the predecessor’s to these products propelled UCS to some amazing accomplishments.

Accomplishment

So, let’s pull back the covers a bit more on these very capable foundational compute platforms that make up many of the building blocks for the enterprise datacenter.

First, when we began to design the latest version of each product, we set out to follow a few simple rules.  Principle of these was to understand what makes them so popular and enhance those elements.’  For example, the B200 M3 is the best-selling server blade in the product line mainly due to its amazing versatility and uncompromised feature-set, all while maintaining a half-width form factor.  Well, the UCS B200 M4 Blade Server is more of the same and then some.  It still delivers uncompromised features like the highest speed, core count and TDP CPUs, maximum memory with 24 DIMM sockets and industry-leading I/O with support for both 2nd and 3rd generation Cisco Virtual Interface Cards (VIC) at up to 80Gb/s of bandwidth per blade.  And, all of that can be done simultaneously, no compromise.

UCS B200 M4 Blade Server

UCS B200 M4 Blade Server

That was easy enough to deliver, but in order to enhance this platform, we looked at the use cases that it served and found the flexibility was the next pivot point for the B200 M4.  The addition of Cisco Flexible Storage to the B200 M4 means that now, customers can truly scale the storage subsystem to match their needs.  Today many UCS customers take full advantage of the true stateless computing and do not use local storage on the blade.  For those use cases, it may be appropriate to have no local disk, no local RAID controller and even no local disk bays.  Why pay for, power and cool what you do not use?  For still other applications, not only is local storage critical, but high performance SSD with an equally-high performing RAID controller with flash-backed write cache is needed.   This is where the Flexible storage subsystem shines.  Either extreme, and the points in between are covers and no compromises made elsewhere.

Another tenet of our design philosophy was to focus innovation where the use cases could take advantage of it.  Take the UCS C240 M4 Rack Server for example, its M3 predecessor has found a home in many enterprise workloads, but it main differentiation is its optimization around local storage and I/O.  To that end, the C240 M4 has enhanced storage flexibility features that include a modular RAID Controller with optional Flash-backed write cache, options for up to 24 SFF or 12 LFF front-accessible hot plug HDD / SSD, two additional SFF internal boot drives, and even support for two 2.5” PCIe flash devices in the front drive bays.

UCS C220 M4 Rack Server

UCS C240 M4 Rack Server

The I/0 capabilities are also significantly improved with up to six PCIe slots that can house up to two NVidia Kepler GPUs.  We also added an mLOM. This slot that is optimized for VIC or 3rd party network cards add to the embedded GbE NIC ports without using one of the six PCIe slots.  The C240 M4 is the ideal platform for I/O and storage intensive enterprise bare metal and virtualized workloads.

The new UCS C220 M4 Rack Server shares a similar compute engine with the ability to also support up to 18 cores per socket and 1.5TB of memory, but it offers an optimization around density without compromising the enterprise performance and feature-set.  So you get the same enterprise class power and versatility in a compact footprint.

UCS C220 M4 Rack Server

UCS C220 M4 Rack Server

These new platforms have already begun leaving their mark with four new world record benchmarks that are targeted toward showing real benefit when deploying workloads that bring tangible value to our customers on platforms that customers demand.  This is how UCS Servers deliver performance that matters.

Look for more information on UCS innovation in this space in the future.

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