Cisco Launches 'Highest Density' UCS System Using AMD Processors


Cisco engineers spent a year creating its new UCS rack server chassis and nodes in a move to attack compute-intensive, scale out workloads environments.

"This absolutely represents the highest density product in our lineup today by a large margin," said Todd Brannon, director of product marketing for UCS, in an interview with CRN. "It gets us further out into some of these scale out workloads that we haven't been able to hit as well with our standard rack or blade servers."

Brannon said Cisco is giving channel partners a new tool in their UCS toolbelt to chase after new opportunities in areas such as industrial high performance computing enviorments, cloud-based network function virtualization (NFV) infrastructure and public cloud services.

"The whole idea being, there's a lot of vendors out there that can bend sheet metal into this shape, but none of them have built a system-level management capability like what we've just done," said Brannon. "It's really an attractive proposition for our partners to go out and hit some of these workloads, which we can touch today with our rack servers, but not as well as we're going to be able to do now with this multi-node rack servers."

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[Related: 5 Features Inside Cisco's New UCS C4200 That Partners Need To Know]

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant's new C125 M5 Rack Server Node has up to 128 percent higher processor core density compared to a 42RU standard rack of UCS servers. The C125 contains two AMD EPYC 7000 CPU processors. All previous Cisco UCS products have used Intel processors such as Xeon.

"AMD has done some great things with their EPYC line-up in terms of core density, memory, bandwidth and the PCIe lanes available. So for a high-density play, they were a great choice," said Brannon. "We're bringing AMD into the family with this product."

Each node contains 16 DIMM slots for up to 2 TB of capacity, 2666 MHz of DDR4 memory, Cisco's 12G RAID controller, flexible OCP 2.0 network mezzanine slot supporting speeds of 10/25/40/100 Gbps, and an optional Cisco Virtual Interface Card.

The nodes are part of Cisco's new C4200 Series Rack Server Chassis, which is a high density, multi-node solution that maximizes application performance and operational efficiency, according to Brannon.

The new C4200 is a 2U rack chassis with four independent server nodes and 24 disks. Up to four C125 server nodes can be installed in the C4200 series. The solution offers 20 percent more storage per rack than Cisco's current most dense rack servers, according to Brannon.

"From a density perspective, it's over double the number of processing cores we can pack into a 42U rack for customers versus the blade servers that we have today," said Brannon. "What we're doing here is taking a step into a segment of the market that's growing more quickly than the rest of the server market -- that's the multi-node form factor segment."

The solution can be coupled with Cisco's cloud-based management platform Intersight. With Intersight, the C4200 provides architectural advantages including a lower lifecycle total cost of ownership and a reduced amount of administrative work, according to Brannon.

Chris Hoscheid, vice president of Managed & Cloud Services for TekLinks, a Birmingham Ala.-based Cisco partner, said he was excited to attack the market with the new Cisco C4200. "This is a great rollout to further Cisco's hyper-converged platform and architecture," he said. "We're looking forward to this being added to the VMware Compatibility list so we can review consolidation ratios across our data centers."

The C4200 can be managed with all UCS and Cisco's hyper-converged infrastructure solution, Hyperflex, from a single cloud-based console to make it easier to deploy, scale and manage infrastructure at the core or across multi-site environments.

"This product is all about processing density and how do we give customers the performance they need, rapid scalability for unpredictable demand, and how do we let them right-size the product in terms of that ratio of core-to-memory-to-storage in order to maximize efficiency when they get to scale. Then bring them UCS management," Bannon said. "Our HyperFlex team is already looking at this as an edge platform."

Cisco's C4200 will become available for channel partners to sell in the third quarter of 2018.