REVIEW: HPE Synergy 480 Gen10 Multi-MXM Graphics Expansion ModuleJanuary 28, 2020
HPE Synergy 12000 Frame
The HPE Synergy 480 Multi-MXM Graphics Expansion module (SHOP HERE) for HPE’s Synergy 12000 FRAME enclosure offers more than you can imagine. If you are familiar with the HPE Synergy 12000 FRAME, then you should know that it offers a composable infrastructure meant to support all types of workloads.
At 10U, the 12000 Frame can support multiple blades, as well as feature embedded management that pools physical and virtual assets of memory, storage, and compute that can be allocated as needed. The Multi-MXM Graphics Expansion module expands the capabilities of this system with up to seven MXM computational accelerators for CADD/CAM and graphics intensive applications.
The Synergy 12000 Frame supports both the Synergy 660 and 480 Gen10 modules. It is quite complex on its own. We did a video of the Synergy Frame 12000 that you can see here. If you prefer not to watch, here’s a quick refresher. It’s a 10U system with support for up to 12 Half-height, 6 full-height modules, and a number of full-width, 4-socket modules, plus combinations in between. Power, cooling, I/O and management are handled at the chassis level. It features composer modules that help you to precisely compose and deploy a server node in minutes with help from HPE’s OneView management suite. The 12000 Frame supports compute modules, storage modules, and also this HPE Synergy 480 Gen10 graphics expansion module, in the same chassis.
HPE Synergy 480 Gen10
On the front of the HPE Synergy 480 Gen10, it looks like two systems stacked, one on top of the other. And, that is exactly what’s happening here. On the top you have the graphics mezzanine, which houses the MXM computational accelerators. On the bottom is the compute portion of this node with two 2.5-inch drive bays in front, which will support either SATA natively or SAS drives with a discrete RAID controller. Also supported in the front drive bays is a unique SFF Flash Adapter that supports two uFF drives in each carrier.
Just below the drives on the HPE Synergy 480 Gen10 is a control panel with a UID LED, health status LED, mezzanine NIC status LED, and power ON button with LED. On the right of the system there is a pullout system identification tag that hides two USB 3.0 ports for a crash cart and provides access to the integrated Lights Out module for at-chassis management.
HPE Synergy 480 GPUs
When you remove the two screws to either side of the case, they allow you to split the node into the Graphics mezzanine and the compute node. This particular node is set up for the Mobile PCI Express module, or MXM form factor GPU accelerators. You can install up to 6 MXM cards on the graphics mezzanine with 6x mounting points. You can install one more for a total of 7x GPUs using an optional GPU Mezzanine Adapter card installed in Mezzanine slot 1 of the compute module.
There are two more GPU form factors supported. Either 4x full-length, full-height, single-width GPUs, or 2x full-height, full-width, double-wide GPUs. We don’t have the associated hardware to support the last two versions, so we will focus on the MXM GPU option.
Supported MXM cards include the Nvidia Quadro M3000SE and the Tesla P6 MXM server graphics card, which we used to outfit our review system. We outfitted our system with 6x MXM GPUS but a seventh can be installed using an optional mezzanine card for the final card.
HPE Synergy 480 Smart Array
The compute module supports SATA drives natively, but you can add SAS drives using a discrete HD/RAID controller. There are several different HPE Smart Array modular controllers to choose from providing more control over the two drives supported in the chassis. One of two RAID controllers, either the HPE Smart Array P204i-c or the Smart Array P208i-c install just under the drive cage assembly and provide more control over the two internal drives.
To connect to the HPE Synergy D3940 storage module, you will need a P416ie-m Smart Array Controller. The P416ie-m is for performance RAID applications, and in addition to accessing the storage module, can also be used to RAID those two front drives using specific SAS cable connections. The D3940 can support up to 10x compute modules with 12Gb/s access speeds across 40x 2.5-inch drives. The system also supports an M.2 SSD adapter board that can host 2x SATA M.2 SSDs. Those M.2s can be RAIDed together to support your operating system for redundancy, or you can use the two front drive bays.
An HPE Smart Storage battery will power the system for a period of time in the event of a power failure allowing the system to store data that’s currently processing. A great feature for added resiliency in the data center where you won’t have immediate access to the system. In this case, as with all the other nodes, management of the system is through the chassis with the Synergy 12000 Frame leveraging the embedded iLO module on each server node for individual server node status and inventory. OneView in this context is a modified version that is specific to the Synergy family and enables rapid configuration and deployment of network hardware and virtual assets. The key here being speed and agility with the composable infrastructure.
Under the drive cage, you’ll notice the iLO module, a slot for a micro SD card to support a hypervisor, an M.2 storage adapter, and next to that an internal USB 3.0 Boot port.
HPE Synergy 480 Memory
Just behind the backplane are two Intel Xeon Scalable processors each supporting 6x memory channels with 2x memory slots per channel and 12x memory module slots per processor for up to 3TB of memory total, with both processors. We have this system outfitted with dual Intel Xeon Scalable 4110 Silver processors from the first generation and only 6x memory modules per processor for optimal memory performance. Three I/O connectors on the back can support additional network cards, or HP/RAID controllers like we have here.
All in all, the HPE Synergy 480 Multi-MXM Graphics Expansion module is a great option if you will be supporting designers, architects, financial analysts, and other professionals requiring strong graphic support. The Synergy 12000 Frame can support thousands of virtual desktops per rack with the most popular applications. Just last month, HPE announced their Synergy platform is now compatible with HPE’s Primera storage platform to augment performance with artificial intelligence and machine learning, but that’s another story.