Introduction: This Is Not a NAS
The new WSS NAS series from Thecus contains some very interesting devices, and particularly so at the entry-level price with the unit we’re looking at today. WSS is the abbreviation for Windows Storage Server (in this case it’s 2012 R2), and this provides a huge increase in functionality compared to a standard NAS, as you might imagine.
Need a server? Just add a keyboard, mouse, and monitor
It’s really quite remarkable what Thecus is doing in partnership with Microsoft here in terms of value, as this entry 2-bay unit costs just $350. While this may seem high for a dual-bay NAS, we really aren’t talking about a NAS at all with this - which will be readily apparent to the user upon first powering it up. We are talking about a full-scale server here, replete with Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials goodness. Of course a savvy user could easily deploy a small server in a home or office, and there are many advantages to managed solutions beyond the simple NAS appliances. But the advantage of a NAS is just that: it is significantly less complex and accessible for a consumer. The W2000 presents a very interesting option due to one particular aspect of its own accessibility: price. At $350 you are getting a very compact server with internal hardware much more akin to a standard desktop than you might imagine, and it ships installed with Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials.
What is “Storage” Server Essentials?
Ok, so I was a little confused as to the specific difference with the Storage version of the Server OS, unless it was simply a licensing distinction. My research first brought me to this quote from Microsoft:
“Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials is based on Windows Server 2012 R2. In fact, when it comes to functionality, you get key some features that aren’t included in these first two editions.”
After looking through the available documentation it appears as though Storage Server Essentials is, essentially, just Server Essentials with the distinction of being licensed differently. Microsoft TechNet defines it further:
“A computer that runs Windows Storage Server is referred to as a storage appliance. Windows Storage Server is based on the Windows Server operating system, and it is specifically optimized for use with network-attached storage devices. Windows Storage Server offers you a platform to build storage appliances that are customized for your hardware.”
Subject: General Tech | February 3, 2015 - 12:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, server, operating system, sccm
There will be no Server 2015 release but sometime later in the year a preview version will be released for those wishing to have a peek at the new OS. We will see an update to SCCM arrive at roughly the same time as Windows 10 is released which will add support for managing Win10 machines and images and will allow a lot of sysadmins to sleep easier at night. The expected new features for the new server OS include the Docker image file format and containerization allowing you to run multiple programs on the same machine which are completely separated from each other and will be new to the Windows environment. Check out a short list of other features and a link to a more indepth look at the new containerization features expected from the new server OS at The Register.
"While it's looking like the final version of Windows 10 for client PCs could ship before the end of the year, it seems data center admins needn't hold their breaths. Microsoft confirmed on Friday that the next version of Windows Server won't arrive until 2016."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Systemd Getting UEFI Boot Loader @ Slashdot
- Intel brings Broadwell to businesses with 5th-gen Core chips with vPro @ The Register
- Raspberry Pi 2 hands-on review video @ The Inquirer
- Trouble comes in threes: Yet ANOTHER Flash 0-day vuln patch looming @ The Register
- Outlook for iOS branded a 'security nightmare' @ The Inquirer
- Ugly, incomplete, buggy: Windows 10 faces a sprint to the finish @ The Register
- TP-Link AV500 2-Port Powerline Network Adapter Kit @ Kitguru
- Microsoft to invest in Android firmware upstart Cyanogen @ The Register
- AEROCOOL Pimp My Rig Competition @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2014 - 12:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Haswell-EX, Haswell-EP4S, Intel, server, xeon, Broadwell-DE, Skylake
Intel's release schedules have been slowing down, unfortunately in a large part that is due to the fact that the only competition they face in certain market segments is themselves. For high end servers it looks like we won't see Haswell-EX or EP4S until the second half of next year and Skylake chips for entry level servers until after the third quarter. Intel does have to fight for their share of the SoC and low powered chips, DigiTimes reports the Broadwell-DE family and the C2750 and C2350 should be here in the second quarter which gives AMD and ARM a chance to gain market share against Intel's current offerings. Along with the arrival of the new chips we will also see older models from Itanium, Xeon, Xeon Phi and Atom be discontinued; some may be gone before the end of the year. You have already heard the bad news about Broadwell-E.
"Intel's next-generation server processors for 2015 including new Haswell-EX (Xeon E7 v3 series) and -EP4S (Xeon E5-4600 v3 series), are scheduled to be released in the second quarter of 2015, giving clients more time to transition to the new platform, according to industry sources."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- iOS 8.1 @ The Inquirer
- How to Get Open Source Android @ Linux.com
- Mozilla to make Firefox OS a tasty filling for a Raspberry Pi @ The Inquirer
- Pesky POS poison won't Backoff @ The Register
- Cisco patches three-year-old remote code-execution hole @ The Register
- Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 @ Kitguru
- Tech ARP 2014 Mega Giveaway Contest
- WIN a 1TB monster Samsung EVO 840 SSD @ The Register
Subject: Processors | May 8, 2014 - 12:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: TrustZone, server, seattle, PCI-E 3.0, opteron a1100, opteron, linux, Fedora, ddr4, ARMv8, arm, amd, 64-bit
AMD showed off its first ARM-based “Seattle” processor running on a reference platform motherboard at an event in San Francisco earlier this week. The new chip, which began sampling in March, is slated for general availability in Q4 2014. The “Seattle” processor will be officially labeled the AMD Opteron A1100.
During the press event, AMD demonstrated the Opteron A1100 running on a reference design motherboard (the Seattle Development Platform). The hardware was used to drive a LAMP software stack including an ARM optimized version of Linux based on RHEL, Apache 2.4.6, MySQL 5.5.35, and PHP 5.4.16. The server was then used to host a WordPress blog that included stream-able video.
Of course, the hardware itself is the new and interesting bit and thanks to the event we now have quite a few details to share.
The Opteron A1100 features eight ARM Cortex-A57 cores clocked at 2.0 GHz (or higher). AMD has further packed in an integrated memory controller, TrustZone encryption hardware, and floating point and NEON video acceleration hardware. Like a true SoC, the Opteron A1100 supports 8 lanes of PCI-E 3.0, eight SATA III 6Gbps ports, and two 10GbE network connections.
The Seattle processor has a total of 4MB of L2 cache (each pair of cores shares 1MB of L2) and 8MB L3 cache that all eight cores share. The integrated memory controller supports DDR3 and DDR4 memory in SO-DIMM, unbuffered DIMM, and registered ECC RDIMM forms (only one type per motherboard) enabling the ARM-based platform to be used in a wide range of server environments (enterprise, SMB, and home servers et al).
AMD has stated that the upcoming Opteron A1100 processor delivers between two and four times the performance of the existing Opteron X series (which uses four x86 Jaguar cores clocked at 1.9 GHz). The A1100 has a 25W TDP and is manufactured by Global Foundries. Despite the slight increase in TDP versus the Opteron X series (the Opteron X2150 is a 22W part), AMD claims the increased performance results in notable improvements in compute/watt performance.
AMD has engineered a reference motherboard though partners will also be able to provide customized solutions. The combination of reference motherboard and ARM-based Opteron A1100 is known at the Seattle Development Platform. This reference motherboard features four registered DDR3 DIMM slots for up to 128GB of memory, eight SATA 6Gbps ports, support for standard ATX power supplies, and multiple PCI-E connectors that can be configured to run as a single PCI-E 3.0 x8 slot or two PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots.
The Opteron A1100 is an interesting move from AMD that will target low power servers. the ARM-based server chip has an uphill battle in challenging x86-64 in this space, but the SoC does have several advantages in terms of compute performance per watt and overall cost. AMD has taken the SoC elements (integrated IO, memory, companion processor hardware) of the Opteron X series and its APUs in general, removed the graphics portion, and crammed in as many low power 64-bit ARM cores as possible. This configuration will have advantages over the Opteron X CPU+GPU APU when running applications that use multiple serial threads and can take advantage of large amounts of memory per node (up to 128GB). The A1100 should excel in serving up files and web pages or acting as a caching server where data can be held in memory for fast access.
I am looking forward to the launch as the 64-bit ARM architecture makes its first major inroads into the server market. The benchmarks, and ultimately software stack support, will determine how well it is received and if it ends up being a successful product for AMD, but at the very least it keeps Intel on its toes and offers up an alternative and competitive option.
Subject: Processors | January 22, 2014 - 11:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: server, piledriver, opteron 6300, amd, 32nm
AMD has updated its Opteron 6300 series lineup with two new processors with lower TDPs. Previously code-named "Warsaw," the Opteron 6370P and Opteron 6338P boast 99W TDPs and 12 and 16 Piledriver cores respectively.
The chips are similar to the existing Opteron 6300-series chips including the 32nm manufacturing process, dual die design, and the use of AMD's older Piledriver CPU cores instead of the latest Steamroller cores found in AMD's new Kaveri APUs. According to Supermicro, the lower 99W TDP parts offer up to 27% higher performance/watt compared to the existing "Abu-Dhabi" 6300 CPUs.
The Opteron 6338P is a twelve core processor clocked at 2.3 GHz base and 2.8 GHz turbo. The Opteron 6370P is a sixteen core part clocked at 2.0 GHz base and 2.5 GHz turbo. As such, the chips are two six and two eight-core silicon dies in one package respectively. The chips have 16MB of L3 cache and support the same instruction sets as the existing 6300 lineup including FMA3, BMI, and F16c. The new chips use AMD's Socket G34 which supports up to 4 sockets (dual die processors) per motherboard.
The new 99W 12-core 6338P and 16-core 6370P are available now for $377 and $598 respectively. The chips will be used in servers from Supermicro and Sugon, and purchasable directly from system integrators including Avnet and Penguin. AMD is aiming these chips at large data centers and cloud computing tasks. While the drop to 99W from the top-end series' 140W TDP does not seem like much, it makes a dramatic difference in the data center world where the electricity costs for racks of servers adds up rapidly.
Subject: General Tech | September 4, 2013 - 02:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Avoton, Intel, atom, server, silvermont, 22nm
The new Silvermont based 22nm Avoton chips are officially available as of today as Intel attempts to outmaneuver ARM's attempts to enter the server market. These chips are not the Atom you have grown to know and despise, this is a brand new architecture which Intel claims will be vastly superior in performance while using much less power. They are billed as true SOCs and reflect the changing server market which is now more focused on modular systems of relatively low performance which can be networked together to provide just as much processing power as is needed. The Register did not get any performance numbers yet, hopefully we will see these chips in action soon so we can judge for ourselves if they have what it takes to make it in the server room.
"If you were expecting Chipzilla to keep its server-chip powder dry until its Intel Developer Forum next week, surprise! It looks like Intel is going to jump the gun and get its "Avoton" Atom server chips into the field this Wednesday, as you can see from this announcement preview that Intel sent out to press and analysts over the Labor Day holiday in the States."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft's $7.1bn Nokia gobble: Why you should expect the unexpected @ The Register
- Kodak exits bankruptcy as Kodak Alaris with focus on digital and personal imaging @ The Inquirer
- Globalfoundries growing its 28nm customer base, says CEO @ DigiTimes
- HDMI 2.0 is here with support for 4K at 60fps @ The Inquirer
- Hynix FABs on fire after chemical explosion @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2013 - 12:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, arm, low power, server, Avoton, rangeley
Intel envisions a sea change in the server room, with servers, SANs and racks of switches which all have been controlled separately becoming much more software based as the ability to virtualize hardware becomes more prevalent. This is not to imply that the hardware will disappear and that Intel will go the way of IBM and get out of the chip business as neither are true; instead Intel is moving forward on the belief that the optimization of your virtualization software will be more important than specific hardware optimizations. While it is great to have tiered storage with expensive SSDs, solid SAS drives and other longer term and lower availability all working together there is little benefit if the software which allocates your data to those media doesn't do so properly.
In this new server room the SoC could be king, modular designs which offer scalable processing power to any and all tasks which is something that ARM cut its teeth on and is now scaling up their power to become a major player in server room design. Intel is coming at this market segment from the other direction as it has to trim power down on its chips without crippling them like we saw in the first 45nm Atom chips. To that end they are working on the new Silvermont architecture, the 22nm Avoton and Rangley which will be mature 64bit chips, something that ARM is still in early days with. Check out more info on these two chips and their successors, along with a teaser on Broadwell at The Tech Report.
"Last week, Intel hosted an event for press and analysts where it provided some updates on the state of its data center business. Then it proceeded to confound our expectations by demonstrating how it's gearing up for a protracted fight with ARM."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- NVIDIA's Linux Driver On Ubuntu Is Very Competitive With Windows 8 @ Phoronix
- BeagleBone Black becomes a handheld classic gaming console @ Hack a Day
- Nvidia buys Portland Group for compiler smarts @ The Register
- KitGuru visit the Overclockers UK Store
- Funky Kit Interview with ASRock
Subject: Motherboards | May 15, 2013 - 03:56 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: server, open source hardware, open source, open compute project, open 3.0, amd
Throughout last year, AMD worked with the Open Compute Foundation to develop open source hardware for servers. The goal of the project was to bring lower-cost, efficient motherboards (compatible with AMD processors) to the server market. Even better, the AMD-compatible hardware is open source which gives companies and OEM/system integrators free reign to modify and build the hardware themselves. The latest iteration of the project is called Open 3.0 and motherboards based on the design(s) are available now from a number of AMD partners.
An AMD Open 3.0 motherboard.
According to a recent AMD press release, Open 3.0 motherboards will be available from AVnet.inc, Hyve, Penguin Computing, and Zt Systems beginning this week. The new motherboards strip out unnecessary and "over-provisioned" hardware to cut down on upfront hardware costs and electrical usage. Open 3.0 uses a base open source motherboard design that can then be further customized to work with a variety of workloads and in various rack/server configurations. Servers based on OPen 3.0 will range from 1U to 3U in size and can slot into standard 19" racks or Open Rack environments. The boards with their dual Opteron 6300-series processors will reportedly be suitable for High Performance Computing (HPC), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Cloud applications, and storage servers. AMD claims that its Open 3.0 motherboards can reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of servers by up to 57% in data centers. AMD claims that a server based on Open 3.0 has a TCO of $4,589 while one based on a traditional OEM motherboard costs up to 57% more at $10,669. The AMD-provided example sound nice. Despite the example likely being the best-case-scenario, the idea behind the Open Compute Project and the AMD-specific Open 3.0 hardware does make sense. Customers should see more competition with motherboards that are cheaper to produce and run thanks to the open source nature. Further details on the status of Open 3.0 and the available hardware is being discussed at an invitation-only industry round-table this week between partners, interested enterprise customers, and a number of companies (including AMD, Broadcom, and Quanta).
For the uninitiated, the Open 3.0 hardware features a motherboard that measures 16" x 16.7" and is intended for 1U, 1.5U, 2U, and 3U servers. Each Open 3.0 board includes two AMD Opteron 6300 series processors, 24 DDR3 DIMM slots (12 per CPU, 4 channels with 3 DIMMs each), six SATA ports, 1 managed dual-channel Gigabit Ethernet NIC, up to four PCI-E slots, and a single Mezzanine connector for custom modules (eg. the Mellanox IO or Broadcom Management card). Board IO will include a single serial port and two USB ports.
I'm glad to see AMD's side of the Open Compute Project come to fruition with the company's Open 3.0 hardware. Anything to reduce power usage and hardware cost is welcome in the data center world, and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact the open source hardware will have, especially when it comes to custom designs from system integrators. Intel is also working towards open source server hardware along with Facebook and the Open Compute Project. It is refreshing to see open source gaining traction in this market segment, to say the least.
Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2013 - 04:14 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xeon-ex, xeon-ep, xeon, server, Intel, HPC, haswell
Intel officially announced its next-generation Xeon processors at IDF Beijing today. The new lineup includes the Haswell-based Xeon E3 1200 V3 family on the low end, and the Ivy Bridge-EP Xeon E5 and Ivy Bridge-EX Xeon E7 aimed at the mid-range general purpose and high-end HPC markets respectively. Intel did not disclose pricing or details on the new chips (such as core counts, cache, clockspeeds, number of SKUs etc.). However, the x86 chip giant did state that the new chips are coming later this year as well as teasing a few tidbits of information on the new Xeon chips.
The upcoming Xeon E3 processors will be part of the Xeon E3 1200 V3 family. These chips will be based on Haswell and are limited to one socket per board. Thanks to the Haswell architecture, Intel has managed to reduce power consumption by approximately 25% and increase video transcoding performance by about 25%. There will be at least one Xeon E3 1200 V3 series chip with a 13W TDP, for example.
Intel is also releasing a new media software development kit (SDK) for Linux and Windows machines that will provide a common platform for developers. It has allowed Intel to maximize the use of both the CPU and GPU for HD video transcoding as well as increasing the number of simultaneous video transcodes over previous generations. The new Xeon E3 1200 V3 (Haswell) chips will be available sometime before the end of 2013.
The next-generation Xeon E5 chips will be based on the 22nm Ivy Bridge-EP architecture. They will be positioned at general purpose computing in data centers (and possibly high-end workstations), and will be limited to 2 sockets per motherboard. The new Xeon E5 processors will incorporate Intel Secure Key and OS Guard technologies. OS Guard is the evolution of the company's existing Intel Execute Disable Bit security technology. Intel is also including AES-NI (AES-New Instructions), to improve the hardware acceleration of AES encrypt/decrypt operations. These mid-range Xeon chips will be available in Q3 2013.
Finally, the top-end Xeon E7 processors will be based on the 22nm Ivy Bridge-EX architecture. The upcoming processors are intended for high performance server and supercomputing applications where scalability and performance are important. The Ivy Bride-EX chips are compatible with motherboards that will have between 4 and 8 sockets and up to 12TB of RAM per node. Further, Intel has packed these processors with new RAS features, including Resilient System Technology and Resilient Memory Technology. The RAS features ensure stability and data integrity in calculations are maintained. Such features are important in scientific, real-time analytics, cloud computing, and banking applications, where performance and up-time are paramount and any errors could cost a company money. Intel has stated that the new Xeon E7 CPUs will be available in the fourth quarter of this year (Q4'13).
While I was hoping for more details as far as core count, clockspeeds, and pricing, the approximate release to market timeframe for the chips is known. Do you think you will be upgrading to the new Xeon chips later this year, or are your current processors fast enough for your server applications?
More information on the upcoming Xeon chips can be found in this Intel fact sheet (PDF).
Subject: Processors | November 6, 2012 - 01:15 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: server, piledriver, opteron, datacenter, cpu, amd
AMD announced new server processors on Monday based on the same Piledriver architecture used in the Trinity APUs and Vishera desktop CPUs we recently reviewed. With the release of the Opteron 6300 series, AMD is bringing Piledriver to the server room.
The new chips – similar to the desktop counterparts – bring several performance improvements over the previous generation 6200 series Opterons based on the Bulldozer architecture. AMD is positioning the chips as a upgrade path to existing servers and on merits of performance-per-dollar efficiency. As is AMD's fashion, the new chips are competitively priced and "good enough" performance-wise. With 6300, AMD has stated the goal is to reduce the TCO, or Total Cost of Ownership for servers used in data centers, supercomputers, and enterprises by being compatible with existing AMD server platforms with a BIOS upgrade and representing efficiency improvements over previous chips.
The Opteron 6300 series CPUs themselves build upon the Vishera desktop parts by adding more cores and more L3 cache. The server parts will have up to 16 cores clocked at 2.8GHz base and 3.2GHz turbo. They will have TDP ratings between 85W and 140W and will feature prices from $500 to $1,400. On the cache front, the chips have a 16KB L1 data cache per core, 64KB L1 instruction cache per module, 1MB L2 cache per core, and a shared 16MB cache per socket. AMD has included a quad channel memory controller that supports DDR3 up to 1866 MHz and 1.5TB per server in 4P configurations. AMD has rounded out the chips with four x16 HyperTransport 3.0 links rated at 6.4 GT/s per link. Up to 4 processors per server will be supported, which means a maximum of 64 cores.
With Piledriver, AMD added a number of new instructions including FMA3, BMI, and F16c. The company has also implemented server tweaks to the Bulldozer design to improve branch prediction, instructions per clock, scheduling, and reduced the power draw at higher clockspeeds allowing for the chps to clock higher while staying within the same power envelope of the Bulldozer-based Opteron 6200 series.
AMD is using the same socket as the 6200 series processors, and the new chips can be deployed as an upgrade to the old servers without needing a new motherboard.
When pitting the new Opteron 6380 to the previous-generation 6278, AMD is claiming a number of performance increases, including a 24-percent and 40-percent improvement in SPECjob2005 and SPECpower_ssj2008 respectively.
Further, the company is claiming competitive performance in server workloads with the Intel competition. AMD offers up benchmarks showing the Opteron 6380 and Xeon E5-2690 trading wins, with the AMD part being slower in the STREAM benchmark, but being slightly faster in LAMPS and NAMD. The allure of the Opteron, according to AMD is that the AMD part is almost half the price of the Intel processor, and is hoping the lower priced parts will encourage adoption. AMD argues that the money saved could easily go towards more RAM or more storage (or simply be saved of course).
The company has announced that its first major design win is Big Red II supercomputer at Indiana University. Built by Cray, the Big Red II will feature 21,000+ Opteron 6300-series CPU cores paired with NVIDIA GPUs. It represents a massive increase in computing power over IU’s previous Big Red supercomputer with 4,100 CPU cores, and will be used for medical, physics, chemistry, and climate research. Beyond that, AMD has stated more that 30 hardware vendors are slated to introduce servers based on the new Piledriver-based Opteron processors including HP, Dell, Cray, SGI, Supermicro, Sugon, and (of course) SeaMicro. On the software side of things, AMD is working with Microsoft, VMware, Xen, Red Hat, and Openstack. The company also stated that it is leaning on the experience and knowledge gained from the HSA Foundation to improve software support and guide the future direction of Opteron development.
The Opteron 6300 series is an interesting release that brings several improvements to the company’s server chip offerings. At launch, there are 10 processors to choose from, ranging from the quad core 6308 clocked at 3.5GHz for $501 to the top-end 6386 SE with 16 cores (2.8GHz base, 3.5GHz max turbo) and a $1,392 price tag. The 6366HE is an interesting part as well. It is the same price as the 12-core, 115W TDP Opteron 6348, but its has 16 lower-clocked cores and an 85W TDP. With the non-HE edition processors with 16 cores starting at $703, the 6366HE for $575 is a decent deal if you need multi-threading more than a fewer number of higher clocked cores.
Another bit that I found intriguing is that in a few years, AMD will (likely, if all goes according to plan) be offering processors for just about every type of server. They will have low cost, low power ARM Cortex-A57 based chips, Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) well suited to mixed workloads including GPU-accelerated tasks, and CPU-only chips with lots of traditional x86-64 cores. It seems that Intel will continue to hold the high end on pure performance, but AMD and its SeaMicro server division have not given up competing in the server room by a long shot.
The Piledrive architecture and Vishera desktop CPU review and The future of AMD: Vishera and Beyond at PC Perspective.