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Supermicro knocks big boys with Superblades

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Supermicro appears to have outclassed the Tier 1 server vendors with its latest blade design.

Unveiled at Computex, the SuperBlade system holds 10 blades in a 7U chassis. That compares favorably with Sun Microsystems' latest blade chassis which boasts 10 blades in a 10U chassis. It also stacks up well against HP's c-Class chassis which can hold 8 full height and 16 half-height blades in 10U.

The strength of Supermicro's design comes from its ability to handle both dual and quad-socket systems along with dual and quad-core chips. By contrast, Sun's new chassis will only hold two-socket systems, and HP demands the full height blades, cutting down on density, if you want four-sockets.

All told, you're looking at 160 processor cores per 7U or 960 cores in a full rack with the Supermicro chassis – not that many customers will be willing to face that type of fire hazard.

Supermicro also has plans for a 14-blade configuration in the same chassis.

"In addition to outstanding CPU performance-per-watt benefits, the SuperBlade features multiple integrated switch fabrics to optimize I/O performance and connectivity," Supermicro said. "High-speed, low-latency infiniband switching (20Gb/s per port) is ideal for clustering applications while two 10-external-port GbE LAN switches provide optimum network connectivity."

For the moment, Supermicro is only selling two-socket blades with four-core Xeon chips from Intel.

The main downside of the Supermicro design seems to be the limited memory and storage of the individual blades, at least when compared to Sun. Supermicro's boards have 8 DIMMs to Sun's 16 and room for two disk drives versus Sun's four. ®

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