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Short-depth Supermicro SuperServer targets 5G telecoms

New 2U Supermicro SuperServer provides compute in micro data centers. The vendor said it aims to help telecommunications firms adopt open systems to support edge computing.

Supermicro is sampling a 5G-oriented short-depth server to help telecommunications firms advance virtualization running on open systems.

The 2U appliance is part of the Supermicro Ultra SuperServer product line. At 22.7 inches, the short-rack cloud server is intended for micro data centers and supports the telecom industry's move to open radio access network technology.

Telecom operators need servers with sufficient bandwidth and security as they make the change, but most commodity servers are not optimized for 5G applications, said Allen Leibovitch, a Supermicro senior product marketing manager.

"The big change happening in 5G is that the network is moving to open hardware platforms and a lot of virtualization. We think that's wonderful, because those are things that we're really good at," Leibovitch said.

The shorter Supermicro SuperServer can be configured with Supermicro proprietary risers for extending network connectivity. The SuperServers support two second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel PAC N3000 acceleration cards for building scalable systems. Storage capacity includes six NVMe SSDs, 6 TB of DDR4 memory channel storage and eight Peripheral Component Interconnect Express 3.0 networking spots.

The system is in the process of completing Network Equipment-Building System (NEBS) certification to aid organizations looking to modernize their edge infrastructure, Leibovitch said. NEBS has been around since the 1970s and evolved into standards for building telecommunications equipment.

Growing interest in AI inferencing outside the core data center network positions telecoms to play a broader role in hybrid cloud computing. Major server vendors are jockeying with Supermicro for position in the nascent market.

The Supermicro SuperServer series competes with products from Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), among others. Dell offers carrier-grade versions with on its flagship PowerEdge servers directly and through OEM partners. HPE's Edgeline Converged Edge Systems, launched last year with Samsung, is aimed at telcos and network operators, and HPE in April added open source tools to help reduce the complexity of 5G deployments.

Telecom-related IT systems historically have missed out on the cost and technological advances of open server systems, but that is starting to change, said John Abbott, an analyst at 451 Research, which is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

One example of the change is software-defined 5G as a way to swap out proprietary data center compute for less expensive compute and switching hardware, Abbott said.

"Telecoms are now having to rapidly upgrade their core systems in order to support new technologies and new ways of working. Virtualization has extended to the network. Software-defined and cloud-based services with high levels of automation are required to react to customer demands more rapidly, and to keep potential competition from the hyperscale cloud providers at bay. And applications are coming on stream with new levels of analytics and intelligences," Abbott said.

Supermicro said commercial shipments of the 5G SuperServer will start soon, but did not specify a time frame. The vendor said it has optimized its full server line in advance of the 5G rollout, including its BigTwin flagship, rack servers, standard-depth SuperServers, blades, GPUs and chassis-enclosed Outdoor Edge pole servers.

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