SAN JOSE, Calif. Startup 3Leaf Systems has released an ASIC that can link 32 Opteron processors into a single server. The company is working on a version that could do the same for 64 Intel Nehalem processors.
The company was founded about five years ago to make virtual I/O systems, but its V8000 design was overlooked in the rush to Fibre Channel over Ethernet. The Dynamic Data Center Server is the company's second attempt at a killer product.
"We believe this concept can open up open a stream of new enterprise applications," said B.V. Jagadeesh, chief executive of 3Leaf. "Many apps are facing cost hurdles because they are being deployed to run on large systems," he said.
The design basically creates a symmetric multiprocessing system using either 10 Gbit/second Ethernet or 20 Gbit/s Infiniband as a virtual backplane. However because those networks have greater latency than the real backplanes used in SMP designs, only applications that can tolerate a non-uniform memory architecture (NUMA) will be able to run unmodified on the hardware.
"We don't want to have real time apps run on this because you could bump up against the latency issues," Jagadeesh said.
3Leaf hopes the systems could be useful for data warehousing apps where developers want to get an entire database in the DRAM memory of the 16 two-way servers the ASIC currently supports. In addition, users in technical and scientific high performance computing fields may find the 3Leaf design a quick way to deploy a large cluster, Jagadeesh said.
The ASIC at the heart of the design includes media access controllers for 10G Ethernet and 20G Infiniband, a cache coherent memory controller and a coherent HyperTransport interface. The future Intel version will support Intel's Quick Path Interconnect which 3Leaf has licensed.
In the 3Leaf design, each two-processor server needs to use one ASIC. Up to 16 AMD servers can be connected using the current chip. The future chip is being designed for Intel's 32nm SandyBridge CPUs.
A single 3Leaf node includes two AMD Opteron CPUs and the startups ASIC.
Click on image to enlarge.
3Leaf is selling a branded server made by Supermicro using its ASIC. It can also have servers made for an OEM brand. In addition, it is willing to license it's ASIC and software to OEMs who want to design their own systems.
A 3Leaf server configured with 1Terabyte shared memory, 2.8 GHz AMD Istanbul processors and 8 Terabytes of storage connected via an Infiniband switch lists for $250,000. A lower end model with 256 Gigabytes of shared memory, 2.4 GHz processors and 4 Terabytes of storage costs $99,000.
The servers will be available in late November.