by Michael Rink

Supermicro Introduces EDSFF Appliances

Today Super Micro Computer launched the industry's first family of server and storage systems that support EDSFF (Enterprise and Datacenter Storage Form Factor) NVMe drives. Supermicro (Super Micro Computer Incorporated, SMCI) was founded in 1993 and is one of the fastest growing IT companies in the world. Supermicro provides a wide range of products and servers; most focused around cloud software and hardware.

What are EDSFF SSDs?

The EDSFF (Enterprise and Datacenter Storage Form Factor) is worth a brief look at all on its own. It is a brand-new specification, so modern that it was still being revised just two months ago. Its main reason for existing is that current form factors are both problematic for server teams to maintain and shaped in such a way that they often have to devote additional volume to avoid overheating. The EDSFF spec defines a high-capacity, hot-pluggable SSD that can fit vertically in 1U, works well in existing server and storage infrastructure and meets enterprise performance needs. By fitting vertically in 1U racks, the new drives will have significantly improved cooling characteristics and also make it easier to design racks to allow drives to be hot-swapped, reducing maintenance time and costs. The EDSFF working group has defined several new form factors, but so far, the 1U short and long dimensions, colloquially known as E1.S and E1.L respectively, seem to be the most popular. E1.S drives will be 32mm tall by 112mm long with the E1.L being only slightly taller at about 38mm and a little under three times as long. ESDFF is primarily being championed by Samsung, Intel, WD, Segate and Micron who are all part of the working group. 

Supermicro currently has two appliance families using EDSFF drives. The first set of systems is what Supermicro is calling the BigTwin. The BigTwin systems sport a four-node system giving it more processing power than their other EDSFF offering. Each node supports dual second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors and 24 DIMMs. Rocking a 2U form factor, the BigTwin has room for ten E1.S (the new 1U short EDSFF drives) plus two conventional SATA M.2 per node. The BigTwin's multi-node efficiency with shared power and cooling is enhanced with the thermal efficiency of EDSFF drives to deliver additional resource savings. 

The other new ESDFF appliance line from Supermicro is their 1U Petascale Systems. As the name implies, these appliances come in a 1U form factor. There are three broad categories of systems available. The first is the 1U Petascale E1.L with support for 32 high-capacity E1.L drives. The second is the Petascale JBOF supporting 32 E1.L drives for storage expansion and connectivity for up to eight hosts. The final variant is the 1U Petascale E1.S with support for 32 high-capacity E1.S drives that take up just 30" of depth.

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