Pivot3 combines Lenovo ThinkSystem SR655 server with AMD Rome chips in powerful new video solution

While the 2nd generation AMD EPYC processors contribute new efficiencies, the big breakthrough here is the new Lenovo servers delivering dual socket performance with a single socket, as well as density and versatility enhancements.

Bruce Milne, Pivot3’s CMO and VP of Business Development

Today, hyperconverged infrastructure [HCI] provider Pivot3 is announcing a new platform for video surveillance solutions which makes significant advancements in price performance, density and versatility. It combines the Lenovo ThinkSystem SR655 server platform with AMD’s 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processor, codenamed Rome.

Pivot3’s HCI business is broader than video security solutions, but that was where they originally built up their business, and it still accounts for the lion’s share of their revenues.

“The majority of our business comes from that surveillance, where we have a very deep and long-standing reputation, which has led to 50% of our business coming from existing customers,” said Bruce Milne, Pivot3’s CMO and VP of Business Development. “75-80% of revenue in any given quarter comes from security and adjacent use cases. Near 20% of the business is in VDI and data centre consolidation, where we mainly compete with Dell, Nutanix, and HPE. Our transaction size in the surveillance space is much, much larger however, about 3x the amount.”

The new solution combines advances from both the AMD and Lenovo sides.

“For a pretty modest price increase over what they would pay for bare metal servers,  customers go from bare bones NVR [network video recording] to a dramatic new technology with Rome, and single socket configuration from Lenovo,” Milne noted.

“This is our first collaboration with AMD, and was largely facilitated by Lenovo,” he said. “We had talked with Lenovo earlier about implementing this with the first generation of these chips, but they wanted to wait for the second generation which was the big breakthrough.”

AMD’s 2nd generation Rome processors have gotten a lot of positive press since their introduction early this spring. Several factors contribute to their ramped-up performance over the previous generation. The 16-core unit doubles the L3 cache over the previous generation to 256MB, while the 24-core model’s increases 128MB to 192MB. These processors have DDR4-3200 memory PCIe 4, which increases bandwidth by 100% over PCIe 3, a critical asset in video recording.

Milne emphasized however, that as significant as the processor increases are, it’s the Lenovo technology advances  with their ThinkSystem SR655 server that is the big story here.

“It’s less about the generation of the chips and more about the platform that Lenovo created,” he said. “The single socket reformulation in the SR655 changes the economics by packing more capability into a single chassis. When you architect a deployment, it’s a 20% improvement and it halves licensing costs over dual socket x86s, because it’s single socket. It has great throughput, especially for ingest for dense video, and those improvements have been great. But the real kicker is the denser platform. The more drives you can pack into a chassis the better, and this is a 16-drive chassis. That’s the key for us, because it provides more capacity for storage in a single node.”

Milne also highlighted the platform’s versatility.

“You can put up to 5 GPUs in, which is big for customers doing high end analytics,” he said. “The economics gets the big attention, but the density and versatility are also very appealing to our customers.”

While AMD processors are new to Pivot3, they are expecting a receptive demand.

“Some customers will insist on Intel, but many don’t care what the label is behind the bezel,” Milne indicated. “In that situation, we will lead with this, because it’s the best economics we have in our portfolio. It will be very strong internationally, where we are also doing more and more with Lenovo and less with their competitors.”

The licensing advantage for powerful single socket servers over dual socket is far from the only part of the story here, but it is a big part. How long that advantage will last is far from certain, however.

“My guess is that at some point VMware will revamp their licensing, and limit the advantages of a single socket system,” Milne said. “But right now, you get the performance of a dual socket with half the licensing costs. I’m curious how long this persists before VMware adapts their licensing to accommodate.”

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