by StorageReview Enterprise Lab

Advantech SKY-8101L Overview

The Advantech SKY-8101L is a series of 1U servers that leverage a single Intel Xeon Scalable processor. The family uses a 27.5" short-depth design, making them ideal for situations where density is critical. Storage configurations vary across the models with up to 8x 2.5" hot-swappable HDD/SSD drives and optional 2x 2.5" NVMe SSDs, or 4x 3.5" hot-swappable HDD drives. The servers also have a single M.2 2280 SATA slot for boot SSD. Additionally the servers support 6x DIMM sockets and two FHFL PCIe x8 Gen3 slots.

While Advantech isn't necessarily a household name in the enterprise, they have done well for themselves in specific verticals because of the tuning they put into the servers. The SKY-8101L for instance is heavily slanted for edge computing use cases. They're commonly found in use cases like telcos and as part of content delivery networks that are able to run their own applications on these unique server configurations. Specifically, the SKY-8101L does well when high density PCIe card payloads and maximum I/O connectivity is required.

The systems are also designed to account for the suboptimal operating conditions at the edge. The SKY-8101L is designed to withstand environmental conditions like shock, vibration and higher operating temperature. These types of conditions would be seen in very remote offices (oil/gas exploration, military), edge telco buildings and other areas where traditional environmental controls would not be available. The systems have redundant power supplies, can withstand fan failures, and have redundant firmware images with failsafe upgrades.

Advantech SKY-8101L Specifications

CPU Single CPU Intel Xeon Processor Scalable Family up to 28 cores, 165W
Chipset Intel C622 chipset (optional variants with C626 and C627)
Memory
Technology Up to 6x 2666MHz DDR4 ECC Standard ECC RDIMM/LRDIMM
Max Capacity per channel 64GB
Max Capacity per system 384GB
Socket 6x 288-pin DIMM
PCIe Expansion Slots Total 2x rear PCIe x8 (FH/FL) or 1x rear PCIe x16 (FH/FL)
1x rear PCIe x8 (LP/HL)
1x rear PCIe x4 expansion slot for Advantech Personalization Card
​Optional 1x front PCIe x8 (LP/HL) slot for SKY-8101L2 only
IO Ports
Front  
SKY-8101L1/L2  1x PWR button
1x ID button
1x USB3.0/2.0
1x micro-USB console
​5x LEDs 
SKY-8101L3 1x PWR button
1x ID button
2x USB3.0/2.0
1x D-Sub console
​5x LEDs
Rear 2x GbE LAN RJ45
1x Display port
2x USB3.0/2.0
​2x 10GE SFP+
Ethernet
Management Interface 10/100/1000 Mbps
10GbE Ethernet Interface 1Gbps/10Gbps
Controller GbE LAN1: Intel i210-AT, GbE LAN2: Intel i210-AT
​10GbE SFP+ LAN1/2: Integrated into PCH, with SR-IOV and RDMA support
Connector 2x RJ-45
​2x SFP+
Storage
SKY-8101L1/L2 8x 2.5", front hot-swappable, SAS/SATA HDD/SSD trays (SAS drives supported via HBA/RAID adapter on PCIe slots)
​Additional 2x 2.5" front hot-swappable NVMe SSD trays on SKY-8101L1 model only
SKY-8101L3 4x 3.5", front hot-swappable, SAS/SATA HDD trays (SAS drives supported via HBA/RAID adapter on PCIe slots)
​1 x M.2 2280 SATA SSD
Power Supply
Input  Two 850W (1+1) redundant AC PSU
​(AC) 100 ~ 240VAC, 50 ~ 60Hz, 12 ~ 6A, per PSU
Output 850W, Max: +12V/70A, +5Vsb/3A, per PSU
Environmental
Temperature Operating 0~40°C (32~104°F)
Non-operating -40~70°C (-40~158°F)
Humidity Operating 50% @ 25°C to 95% @ 40°C (non condensing)
​Non-operating 95% @60°C (non-condensing)
Cooling Chassis Fan Six 40 x 56 mm replaceable fans
Thermal Control Two separate thermal zones for motherboard and Full Length (FL) PCIe cards
​Reliability Resilient to single fan failure
System management
IPMI Aspeed AST2500 BMC
Advanced Lights Out Management compliant to IPMI2.0 with security & availability enhancements 
iKVM SupportAdvantech Web GUI style node manager
​Configurable shared or dedicated NIC support
Physical
Dimension (WxDxH) SKY-8101L1/L2 438.40 x 674.95 x 44.20 mm (17.26" x 26.57" x 1.74") 
​SKY-8101L3 438.40 x 700.80 x 44.20 mm (17.26" x 27.59" x 1.74") 
Weight 16kg

 

Build and Design

 

All three models have the same overall chassis. The unit in our lab, the SKY-8101L3, has four 3.5” bays running across the bottom. Along the top is ventilation along with two USB 3.0 ports, a console port, an ID button, and power button. The other two models have 2.5” ports stacked one on top of the other across resulting in ten bays on the L1 and 8 bays on the L2. Both have a power button, ID button, one USB 3.0 port, and one micro-USB console port. The L2 has four more networking ports in the front.

The back of the server looks that same on all models. The left side has the two PSUs followed by a DisplayPort, two GbE LAN RJ45 ports, two 10GE SFP+ ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. 

The server is easy to pop open and take a look at what is under the hood. In the center of the device, one can clearly see the CPU surrounded by the RAM. The front of the Device has the storage and fans. On one side of the CPU are the PSUs and the other is open for PCIe additions such as GPUs. 

Conclusion

While the specific configuration of the Advantech SKY-8101L server in our lab wasn't designed for high-performance benchmarking, we do enjoy taking a look at novel server designs when we can. The use cases Advantech is after here are much different than traditional enterprise workloads and we think it important to get a little outside of the norm form time to time. That said, while most use cases include information analysis and streaming at the edge, a SKY-8101L configured with flash could make for a good vSAN node at the edge. There are certain management benefits that come along with a solution like that, while keeping the solution cost-optimized with a single CPU. The Advantech SKY-8101L family fills a gap overlooked by traditional server vendors and serves an increasingly vital role in the edge computing category.

Advantech SKY-8101L Product Page

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