Lenovo unveils three next-gen enterprise servers

Lenovo is emphasizing these new enterprise-ready server products have overcome limitations of Lenovo servers in the enterprise in the past.


The ThinkServer RD550 and RD650 rack servers.

Today, Lenovo is announcing three new servers which comprise its next-generation enterprise-class server portfolio. Two, the ThinkServer RD550 and RD650, are rack servers while the third, the TD350 , is a tower model.

These servers are replacements for the TD 340, RD 540 and RD 640 respectively, but Lenovo is emphasizing that these are entirely new offerings, the first of what they say will be a wave of new enterprise-ready server products.

“The 340, 540 and 640 were all more off the shelf products while these are organically in-house designed,” said Robert Zuber, Director of Product Marketing, Lenovo.

“We stepped back and took a new approach, to see what the old systems had been lacking, and improve on what we had done in the past,” said Nancy Reaves, Senior Product Manager, Lenovo .

Flexibility and expandability were key priorities for the new models, to give customers more upgradeable systems to handle future demands, and to ensure the servers could support all enterprises, not just smaller ones.

“These are all flexible, highly reliable and expandable, providing greater storage, higher throughput and easier management than the previous generation,” Reaves said. “We needed more dense storage platforms to provide more storage, to provide more flexibility for clients to choose, whether that choice is based on technology, cost or performance, and to provide more flexibility in delivering IO capabilities so they can work locally or connect to the data center. We want to become the trusted provider of x86 based servers, not only for small enterprises but also larger ones.”

To this end, both the RD550 and RD650 provide extremely high storage density and more I/O connectivity within standard 1U and 2U form factors. Both are equipped with the new Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 series processors with up to 18 cores each, which Intel is announcing today. Both can be configured to support up to 768GB of DDR4 memory, a bandwidth increase of up to 50 per cent, as well as a 50 per cent increase in power efficiency over previous-generation DDR3 memory.

For enhanced flexibility and scalability, both of these rack servers are available with hybrid chassis configurations that allow a combination of 2.5- and 3.5-inch drives, ideal for creating a tiered storage environment. Two enterprise-class M.2 SSDs are available as an option for secure booting, as well as SD card options for hypervisor booting.

The 1U RD550 can accommodate up to 12 drive bays and up to 26.4TB of internal storage, providing the performance and capacity of a 2U system in its 1U form factor.

“There are a lot of capabilities in the RD550 many customers would expect in a 2U, which we have in a 1U model,” Zuber said.

The 2U RD650 houses up to 26 drive bays and up to 74.4TB of internal capacity, and Lenovo is targeting it at for storage-hungry applications, such as databases, data analytics clusters and video streaming.

“The hybrid storage capability makes it perfect for business-critical applications,” Zuber said.

The tower model, the TD350, has up to two Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 series processors, nearly triple the memory capacity and double the storage capacity of the previous-generation server. It has up to 512GB of DDR4 memory and 90TB of internal storage capacity with either 2.5- or 3.5-inch drive configuration options — all in a condensed 4U package. With this large storage capacity and a lower cost than rack infrastructure, the TD350 is aimed at SMBs running workloads such as business analytics, large database and collaborative applications.

“The TD350 has features you would expect in a rack server, like options for RAID and network adapters and energy efficient power supplies,” Zuber added.

Lenovo is stressing the flexibility these servers provide through its new AnyFabric, AnyBay and AnyRAID technologies. AnyRAID has actually been around before, with the difference being that it is now branded and highlighted.

“We have integrated the RAID into the mid-plane of the servers, and eliminated additional cables to make it more reliable,” Reaves said.

The Lenovo’s AnyBay design allows for multiple storage types in the same drive bay ranging from SAS and SATA HDDs to front-accessible PCIe SSDs.

“AnyBay is new with this release, and lets you choose from disk size and type and put them in the system, based on the cost and performance you want,” Reaves said. “This is new with this release.”

Also new is Lenovo’s AnyFabric design, which permits many more combinations of IO technologies, to provide more IO options and greater IO flexibility.

“AnyRAID, AnyBay and AnyFabric make these servers more modular than our prior generation, and are a very important part of our launch,” Reaves said. “We want customers to refresh their thinking about Lenovo ThinkServer, so our designers thought ahead to ensure these would be modular and upgradeable.”

All the new servers have greater thermal capabilities than their predecessors.

“We wanted systems that are reliable under continuous operation at a 45 degree Celsius temperature,” Reaves said. “This is definitely something different about our servers. Customers don’t need to be concerned that high data centre temperatures will void their warranties.”

Many of the enhancements will also appeal to channel partners.

“The systems are now really easy to upgrade, expand and service because 95% of the parts in the system are toolless,” Reaves said.

“The greater density is a big plus and the AnyRAID, AnyBay and AnyFabric capabilities will all appeal to partners,” Zuber said. “Partners will like working with Lenovo even more than in the past.”

The TD350, RD550 and RD650 will be available September 9. The TD350 starts at $USD 1,629, the RD550 starts at $USD 1,829 and the RD650 starts at $USD 1,929.