Lenovo shipping new Cascade Lake-enabled servers and appliances

Lenovo  is announcing, and shipping, 15 new ThinkSystem servers and 5 ThinkAgile appliances, which are both optimized to work with Intel’s new Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, and add some additional wrinkles of their own.

SAN FRANCISCO – Today in conjunction with Intel’s launch here of its Second Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, formerly code-named Cascade Lake, Lenovo announced a refresh of its ThinkSystem and ThinkAgile portfolios that will contain the new processors, with their Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory modules. 15 Lenovo ThinkSystem servers and 5 ThinkAgile appliances were announced. They include the Lenovo ThinkSystem SR950, an eight socket server featuring Intel’s new Optane persistent memory technology.

“We haven’t been sitting in a cave,” said Kamran Amini, Vice President and General Manager, Data Center Infrastructure and Software-Defined Solutions at Lenovo Data Center Group. “We think that with the Lenovo ThinkSystem SR950, we will have the only 8-socket system that will deliver 24 TB of memory in a 4U server.”

While performance metrics were once front and centre around these kinds of launches, Amini acknowledged that the numbers alone don’t impress many customers today.

“Customers don’t care about feeds and speeds now,” he said. “Our focus is how we can best leverage Intel’s design philosophies and build better application delivery.”

Thus, while Lenovo is noting the double-digit increases in performance that the new processors provide, they are really focusing on the customization of their offerings, particularly through their close collaboration with SAP to leverage the Optane persistent memory to drive better performance around SAP HANA.

“We have been closely collaborating with SAP and working with SAP Labs on this, which is not an advantage that everyone enjoys,” Amini said. “We are able to get better SQL performance on SAP – better TCO, better economics, better value.”

All OEMs will be able to leverage Optane’s in-memory system to recover much more quickly from both planned and unplanned outages 12.5x faster than before, which is ideal for SAP HANA’s large in-memory data environments.

“All OEMs get that, but they don’t have the fine tuning that we have done  around performance benchmarking,” he added. “Our engineering teams have fine-tuned these. We are publishing 29 leadership results just on STAC-M3 results.

The kind of technological innovation that these machines provide are likely to allow Big Data to finally reach its potential, said Madhu Matta, VP and GM of High Performance Computing and Artificial Intelligence at Lenovo.

“Big Data has been something of a bust so far,” he said. “It is barely in its infancy. The promise was scale out and you will get all your results. Buy the biggest box possible and you will win! That’s not the case. I think that AI can be what delivers on this potential for customers.”

“Over the past few months Lenovo, Intel and Kx have used Intel Optane technology to set several new STAC-M3 records for systems running kdb+ on a single server,” said Peter Lankford, Founder and Director, STAC. “Now, the baseline STAC-M3 results from Lenovo servers using Intel Optane DC persistent memory have set new records in 11 of 17 benchmarks for kdb+ systems using a 2-socket server and 9 of 17 benchmarks for kdb+ systems using a 4-socket server. In one specific example, the calculation of market statistics that used to take more than half a second on a 2-socket kdb+ system now takes less than 75 milliseconds on the new solution—a speed acceleration of more than 7x.”

Amini also indicated that the new models also leverage advances that go beyond the new processors.

“One of the 15 new servers is the most dense GPU platform in the market – a 2U 8 GPU box,” he said. “It’s an extremely dense solution that really targets AI machine learning. That’s not something that has been there before now. It goes beyond the Intel refresh.”

Lenovo’s ThinkAgile software portfolio is all being refreshed as well for software-defined solutions.

“For better performance and optimization of firmware, we have made it ‘easy button,’” Amini indicated. “Customers can’t go through 50-70 settings on the server to do things like optimize for power. We have added pre-defined settings for pure performance, balanced situations, and done the optimization and fine-tuning.”

Lenovo ThinkShield security platform, which the company introduced  at last fall’s Transform event, has been expanded to data centre solutions here.

“This reflects the fact that security is very important for customers,” Amini said.

The new systems can be purchased through Lenovo’s recently announced Truscale Infrastructure Services, a consumption-based, as-a-service offering that allows customers to use and pay for data centre hardware and services without having to purchase the equipment.

Amini noted that most of the new systems would be sold through channel partners.

“We are very channel friendly,” he said. “We are doing channel training on solution architecture, including how to best configure for workloads, and how we can deliver sweet spot solutions from SMB to large enterprises through the channel.”

The newly-announced systems are available now.

“We are shipping everything very quickly, looking for that to give us an advantage in time to market in making these persistent memory servers available,” Amini said.