Supermicro SuperServer 4029GP-TRT2 ReviewNovember 20, 2019
Naming conventions aside—and we’ll get to that—the Supermicro SuperServer 4029GP-TRT2 (SHOP HERE) offers dual sockets of Intel Xeon Scalable processor goodness, 24x storage bays up front, and up to 6TB of memory. But the real surprise is under the cover panel with support for up to 10x Nvidia GPUs.
What’s this system good for? Artificial intelligence, big data analytics, high-performance computing, astrophysics, business intelligence, and a few other high-performance computing needs. The Supermicro SuperServer 4029GP-TRT2 is a 4U chassis, so there is quite a bit of room in there for expansion. But once you load up the 10x GPUs, it’s looking a little cramped. The two processors support a dual PCIe root complex fabric with 2x PCI express PLX switch devices. This enables the 48x PCIe lanes supported on each processor to support all 10 of those GPUs in x16 PCIe slots by switching the PCIe bus data flow. This enables a large number of peripheral devices, like those GPUs to connect to the processors and memory. If my calculations are correct, once you put 10 of these GPUs in there, you’re going to see magic before your eyes!
The front of the system is divided into 6x bays with three on top, and three below. The three bays on top don’t support storage. The three bays below will support 8x 2.5-inch drives, in each bay, for a total of 24x storage devices. A control panel on the lower left of the server ear has the on/off button with status LED lights below indicating power, hard drives, network connections for LAN 1, network connections for LAN2, a Universal information LED, and a power fail LED.
Rows of PCIe slots line the entire top of the system. Below that, you’ll see 2 + 2 2000W Titanium level Power Supplies on either side of the chassis. Between the PSUs, there’s a fairly standard assortment of ports, including one RJ-45 port specifically to access the Intelligent Platform Management Interface. Four USB 3.0 ports, two more RJ-45 10GbE LAN ports, and a VGA port. Of course, for enhanced network communications you can install additional network controllers using one or two of the PCIe slots.
If you have the GPUs in this GPU system then you may need an optional cover panel that provides a little more clearance for the GPU power and signal cables. Otherwise, you get a standard flat cover panel, not with the bump.
Before we get too deep into this review let’s take a look at the elephant in the room. The naming convention. This is a serial number-type assortment of numbers and letters or maybe a randomly generated password. I’m pretty sure there is a method to the madness here, but come on! The Supermicro SuperServer 4029GP-TRT2? There are about three more chassis that start with 4029GP. The only difference between them is the daughterboard used in each system, and the number of GPUs supported. For other manufacturer’s this would be an option on a base chassis not another SKU.
Opening the case, there are 8x large, hot-swap cooling fans just behind the backplane, then you see the motherboard with dual sockets and 12x memory module slots per processor. The PCIe expansion board sits on top of the PSUs with two PLX switches to support the 12x PCIe slots. The processors supported include both Gen 1 and Gen 2 Intel Xeon Scalable processors with up to 28 cores, and no 9200 series CPU support on this one either. But you do get support for the top of the line 8100 and 8200 platinum processors.
No surprise there… Oh and that lever that says PULL on the edge of the PCIe expansion board. Don’t pull that! There are at least 10 screws to remove before that lever comes into play. Underneath is where you will find a micro SD card slot and a connector for a single M.2 SSD.
The New Gen 2 Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs support memory speeds of up to 2933MT/s. Using Gen 1 processors will provide 2666MT/s. Intel Optane Persistent Memory modules are supported with Gen 2 processors only and provide greater data resiliency and reduced latency. Registered, Load-Reduced, and Optane memory modules support up to 6TB using 256GB memory modules in all 24 slots. It is hard to say at this point IF this system will support the 512GB Optane modules when they become available, but if that is the case then this system could potentially support a little over 12TB of memory.
Management of this system is through the Intelligent Platform Management Interface 2.0 or IPMI LAN. The dedicated 1GbE management port provides access to the Base Management Controller (BMC) for both on site and remote management of the system. SuperDoctor5 (SD5) is very similar to Dell’s iDRAC, management module, and HPE’s iLO module. Although, truth be told Supermicro’s out-of-band management was not well regarded, that is until this version. SD5 seems to be getting some favorable reviews for its ease of use and intuitive graphical interface.
There are 12 full length x16 mechanical slots, 11 of which support a x16 lane for data transmission. While only one has a x16 mechanical slot with a x8 lane. The middle slots can be used for HD controllers, additional storage in the form of M.2 PCIe cards or faster network cards for increased communication bandwidth. The others are specifically to support the up to 10 GPUs. The daughterboard included with this chassis has 2x RJ-45 ports featuring 10Gb/s access speeds. And remember, the daughterboard, and the number of GPUs supported define this particular SKU.
The Supermicro SuperServer 4029GP-TRT2 takes up to 10x GPUs and that includes 10 of those new Tesla Vector 100 GPUs with tensor cores. You can also choose from a few more Tesla computational accelerators and Quadro GPUs. Another version, the 4029GP-TVRT features Nvidia’s NVLINK board for 300GB/s data transfer speeds compared to just 32GB/s with a standard PCIe interface like on this system we have here. That one does kind of seem like a different SKU.
Storage supported on the system includes SATA, SAS, and NVMe drives. The system will support up to 24x SAS or SATA drives or 4x NVMe with 20 SAS/SATA. Only 8x SATA drives and a maximum of 2x NVMe drives are supported natively with motherboard connections right off the backplane. For support of the extra drives and for support of SAS drives, including those last two NVMe drives, you will need an optional HD/RAID controller like the AOC-S3108L-H8iR for full RAID support or the equally unnecessarily long serial number name of AOC-S3008L-L8i. That first one that I am not going to repeat the name, is the performance model and supports 8 internal ports at 12Gb/s plus up to 240 HDDs.
It may have a name like a line item serial number on the receipt from your last oil change, but it delivers some serious performance with up to 10 GPUs powered by dual Intel Xeon Scalable processors and up to 6, maybe 12TB of memory. Oh, and we did start this baby up because it was being configured for one of our customers. It sounds kind of like a jet engine with all 8 of those 92mm fans spinning, plus whatever hard disk drives you might install. That’s why these go in the server room.