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back to article Keep your Playboy mansion, Supermicro is my nerd vice palace

With several clients facing refresh cycles, I've decided to poke my nose back into the tier-2 space to see what’s going on. Supermicro has been on my preferred vendor list for years, so when I was in the Bay Area this summer I stopped in to see what’s new. I left impressed with what I saw, and got a swank backpack admittedly …

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Anonymous Coward

Is this an "infomercial"? :)

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

No, it's a rare moment in which a Reg writer expresses a positive opinion.

C.

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I thought this was a fable

whose moral was: Purchasing agents aren't always a waste of money.

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To be, or not to be, an infomercial

I really did try not to turn this into an infomercial. That said: they have sexy boxen filled with many blinkenlights. I am not often impressed by hardware...actually, I'm normally cynical and resentful of just about anything involving computers. The theory goes that on the rare occasions when I encounter things that impress and delight me, there's a reasonable chance that at least some of the readers will be intrigued as well.

I can't be dour and snarling "get off my goddamned lawn" all the time. If I keep that up, my internets will stay that way.

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Boffin

Re: To be, or not to be, an infomercial

I was the same way about Cisco's UCS platform... until we actually got a change to work with a demo chassis for a month. We managed to build our own ESX cluster with 90% of the performance of the UCS box for about 30% of the cost- the rest of that money went to other deserving projects, like beefing up the SAN and other fun things.

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By RegHardware review standards...

...it's actually a well balanced and detailed review.

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If only...

Supermicro certified their hardware for the most common Linux business distros (ie: REDHAT)

Individual resellers have to do that - which is inefficient at best.

Might sound like a minor niggle, but I suspect Supermicro would substantially increase sales if they went through the certfication processes.

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Happy

Re: If only...

They have certified REDHAT on a large number of boards.

Full list here

http://www.supermicro.com/support/faqs/os.cfm

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Bronze badge

question

I'm in no way knowledgeable about server hardware, but it would seem to me that other hardware companies ( HP + Dell, for example) do desirable blades too.

How do these compare in price and performance and what is especially droolworthy about SuperMicro?

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Re: question

I priced this out last year, a rack of HP blades ends up being $800k where you can get a full rack of SuperMicro equipment for $200k that has twice the performance.

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Have they fixed IPMI yet?

On previous Supermicro chassis it was unworkable:

- The client application supports up to Java v1.6.19 ONLY, later versions of Java will cause it to crash if you attempt such craziness such as mounting an ISO.

- Curiously for a remote access solution, rebooting the box disconnects you... so good luck getting to the BIOS.

- If the host OS decides to disable the NIC, that also takes your IPMI port down. Another useful and well designed feature.

- Early versions completely disabled the dedicated IPMI port if it didn't detect a network connection on startup. So after a power outage if your switch takes longer to boot than the 0.5s the IPMI NIC requires, you will have no remote access until you re-power the server. I believe this one may be fixed now but I've pretty much given up on Supermicro IPMI by this point so haven't tested this myself.

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do you not read el reg yourself?

There was an article on this months ago -

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/26/super_micro_fattwin_servers/

What sort of surprises me is I have not yet seen a mention(maybe I missed it) of the battery option in some of the SM servers now. Previously seemingly only available to the hyperscale customers ordering in the 10s of 1000s now anyone can get them (if they wanted..). I'd mention it for nothing else other than bringing a technology to market that is more accessible to the masses. (I don't need such tech but nice to see it being available).

In the past my biggest issue with supermicro's boards is they lacked linux-based firmware update tools making you resort to a floppy or CDROM boot to DOS option. Perhaps that has been fixed in recent years. The KVM over IP stuff they have is a step in the right direction, got a ways to go still but light years better than the basic IPMI that they used to have.

Oh the other thing is SM lacks technology like HP Advanced ECC or IBM Chipkill, both of which are processor agnostic, which to me is vital to running machines with high memory configs. Bad memory was the #1 problem for me and failed SM systems.

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Gold badge

Re: do you not read el reg yourself?

I saw it. That article came out about a week after I had started to poke my nose back into SuperMicro. (I was already well infatuated with the Fat Twin by the time that got published.) That said, it's about the only thing I've seen on SuperMicro's widgetry in a while.

The bulk of my "newspaper" time is spent reading Ars Technica's science section, or skimming El Reg, Anandtech, The Verge and Fudzilla. (Screw 90% of Apple coverage and ALL social media coverage!) Now that I'm writing articles on a regular basis, I only have time to read about 1/2 what I used to. I have begun to rely on PRs dropping information into my mailbox a little too much; it was convenient, but has become a bit of a crutch.

So honestly, it's really easy to miss mention of some of this stuff. If it doesn't cross publications enough, I might not see it. If I get big into a project, I can go days without reading any of the tech rags, or even skimming the RSS reader to pick up the headlines.

Now, go compare how many times SuperMicro has been mentioned on the major tech rags to FusionIO. Or to Dell. Compare hits for "Facebook" to any hardware vendor that isn't Apple. There are more articles about SCO's death throes than there are about tier 2 hardware vendors!

So yeah, the odd article pops up. But it doesn't present the same kind of mindshare. Even if you do see it, it might not stick. Repetition is often necessary (what was it, 12 times?) to burn something into the memory of the average human.

So my point stands; even if you spend 8 hours a day reading the various tech rags, it is still worth poking your nose into the product offerings of your vendors from time to time. Or – as mentioned above – get a VAR you really trust. If there is such a thing.

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Meh

What I want is a decently-priced Storage rackmount aimed at the home enthusiast. I need to upgrade my home-built 18TB RAID 5 array.

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Linux

Re: Meh

Use some SuperMicro brand 3x5 SATA hot swap racks. Put them in any enclosure you like.

I have a couple of these myself. Tandem arrays in two different boxes in different rooms. One mirrors the other.

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Re: Meh

Supermicro sells a couple 4U storage chassis:

36x 3.5"

with MoBo: http://www.supermicro.com/products/system/4U/6047/SSG-6047R-E1R36L.cfm

without: http://www.supermicro.com/products/chassis/4U/847/SC847E26-R1400U.cfm

or 72x 2.5 disks:

without MoBO: http://www.supermicro.com/products/chassis/4U/417/SC417E16-R1400LP.cfm

You can also cram standard SATA disks in the thing (With a slight performance drop, because they are SATA)

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You do realize....

...that not all of the Supermicro servers have a way to plug in your mouse, don't you?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/26/cli_vs_gui/

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Re: You do realize....

You just need a Dongle to connect to them, the blades and Twin servers come with them. Although that really only applies to USB mice, with PS/2, you are kinda screwed on some systems. Besides, you can just use the IPMI or VNC software if you need a mouse.

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