New Supermicro GrandTwin 2U4N 1P platform at Intel Vision 2022

Supermicro GrandTwin at Intel Vision 2022 Node

At Intel Vision 2022, we got to see a lot of cool server products on the floor that we haven’t been able to see with the slower pace of events until recently. At the event, we were able to stop by the Supermicro booth and found something interesting: the company has a new 2U platform with 4 nodes per node. The Supermicro GrandTwin is a new line from the company that we haven’t reviewed yet.

New Supermicro GrandTwin 2U4N 1P Ice Lake

This was an Intel show, so we expect Intel solutions to be showcased. What caught my attention was this point of view. Below is a Supermicro BigTwin we’ve seen for generations. Additionally, there is a new platform that Supermicro calls the “GrandTwin”. This is a new line of 2U4N servers from Supermicro and not a single platform.

Supermicro GrandTwin on the back of the 2022 Intel Vision Chassis
Supermicro GrandTwin on the back of the 2022 Intel Vision Chassis

In short, this node at the top of the GrandTwin is the BigTwin node in which we showed the low-profile ATS-M TDP 75W card. You may have seen this node before in Intel Vision 2022’s Intel Arctic Sound-M or our recent video recap of the event:

While the rear of the system is different as the power supply and fan wall, the front is indeed very different:

Supermicro GrandTwin in front of Intel Vision 2022 Chassis with Exit Node
Supermicro GrandTwin in front of Intel Vision 2022 Chassis with Exit Node

The GrandTwin has front I/O and the nodes are served from the front. You can only have fans and power supplies in the hot aisle, which makes serving a little more enjoyable. We asked and there will also be rear options for additional rear I/O in the future.

One of the challenges is that you get less storage, but for many applications only a few or no storage devices are used in each node with more storage provided through the network. Supermicro also has the option to replace the storage cages seen here with room for PCIe network cards and accelerators.

Supermicro GrandTwin Ice Lake Front IO System
Supermicro GrandTwin Ice Lake Front IO System

Here is an example where the drive has been replaced with the AIOM NIC module, although no additional network card is installed. There’s also support for low-profile cards like the 75W ATS-M card we’ve seen before (as well as others.)

Supermicro GrandTwin at Intel Vision 2022 Node
Supermicro GrandTwin at Intel Vision 2022 Node

Here is the node itself, we can see that the whole front end is designed to be modular and this is what allows flexibility. There are also a number of wired PCIe options that contribute to the overall flexibility of what can be installed.

Supermicro GrandTwin at Intel Vision 2022 Node View
Supermicro GrandTwin at Intel Vision 2022 Node View

Here is the layout with something I wanted to show. The node we saw has an unfilled package. There is a version of this motherboard with a SAS controller. I asked about this and apparently there is a customer who still wants the integrated Broadcom/LSI controller.

Schematic Supermicro GrandTwin Ice Lake X12SPT G or GC
Schematic Supermicro GrandTwin Ice Lake X12SPT G or GC

Here is also the block diagram of the node.

Supermicro GrandTwin Ice Lake Block Diagram
Supermicro GrandTwin Ice Lake Block Diagram

Since the one we reviewed at the Intel show was an Ice Lake Xeon, it only has 64 PCIe lanes from the CPU, then PCH lanes (C621A) and additional I/O. Of course, we expect future chips to have more I/O, which will lead to potentially more flexibility in the future.

Last words

For many businesses, a single-socket server makes sense from a node sizing perspective these days. In the GrandTwin, this design gets the benefits of shared chassis and cooling for lower cost and higher density than 1U servers. There are applications like CDNs where this is a perfect fit. We could also see that this is an interesting 1P Ice Lake Xeon hosting platform.

Looking ahead, this is a range that Supermicro is going to support with future processor generations, so we expect to see more of this in the future and as the GrandTwin range expands. Before we got to the show, we didn’t even know it existed, so we did this little bit just to let people know it’s out there.

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