ASRock Rack strategy: customized and green HPC servers
By   |  January 21, 2016

Interview Weishi SA, ASRock Rack General Manager

HPC Review has interviewed Mr. Weishi Sa, ASRock Rack Worldwide General Manager wo updated us on ASRock Rack product portolio and strategy, including some geographical and distribution figures and even a glimpse into ASRock Rack’s Research and Development strategy.

Can you please explain us your eon D Server motherboard launch and the planned availability of your Xeon D servers?
As an innovative server technology provider, we focus on high performance and high-efficiency server products such as HPC, Cloud Computing and Datacenters. Our latest D1540D4X motherboard series support Intel Xeon D processors today. The new series completely utilizes Intel’s latest processor technology to offer perfectly optimized computing solutions.

Intel Xeon D product families, as the first Intel Xeon SoC, pushes the performance, efficiency and the TCO to the next level with greater density and integration. The upgraded 14nm processor technology and higher levels of I/O integrations scales the performance and reliability to lower power design points, yet includes the datacenter processor features. ASRock Rack’s latest D1540D4X series features strong computing performance in E5 level, memory capacity and satisfying I/O expandability. Our Xeon D Servers are available now.

What are the market segment / use cases you are targeting with your Xeon D motherboard Series?
This series is ideal for HPC-based micro servers based on its form factor. It also gives the benefits for users to build up substantial computing nodes under a cloud environment. Besides, the series is perfect for hyperscale storage servers, thanks to SoC integration. Moreover, this series is a comprehensive solution for mid-communication servers under a cost-effective yet reliable condition. Overall, D1540D4X takes the full advantage of Intel’s latest processor technology, offering a low power and compact server solution for customers to cope with the existing critical issues of Datacenters and Cloud environment.

Can you update us on your server strategy worldwide?
We sell to wholesale distributors like SuperMicro. We also do OEM mainly in China and ODM in Russia We also have a local distributor ecosystem for Europe and France.

What is your geographical revenue breakdown?
The revenue percentage is about 30% in Europe, 10% in Russia, 20% in Japan and the rest in the United States. That helps us shorten the shipping times across our entire product range.

Can you provide us with the node / watt figures of your greenest server?
HPC servers usually consume much power. However, energy efficiency is at the core of our business. Our customers are increasingly looking at the energy / performance efficiency ratio.

Can you let us know your customers top use cases?
We work very closely with the academic sector. University computation centers are among the top users of our server products. Customers want integrated server packages, mostly in Europe and Japan. Whereas in Asia and Japan, they have a more customized approach.

What is your future product strategy?
We have a strategy and product roadmap up to 3 years. We are confident in that HPC will continue growing in demand. In order to increase our server cersatility and usefulness, some customers in China often add GPU accelerators in our servers for their needs, like NVIDIA Tesla K40 GPUs.

How much do you invest in Research and Development?
We invest 30% of our global revenue into HPC Research and Development. We certify our high ensity servers with NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators.

Xeon D product portfolio
ASRock Rack’s Xeon D lineup consists of one board using the Xeon D-1520 and six boards using the Xeon D-1540. Customers have the option of going with either the mini-ITX (mITX) form factor or the micro-ATX (uATX) form factor. The mITX boards are all compatible with 1U rackmount chassis.

In addition to the motherboard size, the differentiation aspects come in the form of support for different varieties of LAN ports, PCIe slot configurations, additional storage ports using the LSI 3008 HBA and different USB 3.0 port configurations. Unlike the mITX boards, all the uATX boards come with a COM port in the rear I/O.The following tables summarize the features of the various products in the ASRock Rack Xeon D lineup.

These boards are ideal for network and warm storage devices as well as micro-servers. Given the low power nature of the Xeon D platform, some of them can also be useful in home lab settings for experimenting with virtualization or even act as boards for high-end development machines.

ASRock Rack Intel D Xeon motherboard lineup

mITX BOARDS D1520D4I D1540D4I D1540D4I-2L2T
SiP Intel Xeon D-1520 Intel Xeon D-1540
RAM 4x DDR4 DIMM Slots 2133 / 1866 MHz RDIMMs (Up to 128 GB)
PCIe Expansion Slots 1x PCIe 3.0 x16
Storage Controllers 6x SATAIII 6 Gbps from integrated PCH in the Xeon D SiP
(4x via mini-SAS connector)
(1x with SATA DOM support)
1x SATAIII 6 Gbps from Marvell 9172
(via M.2 2280 interface)
LAN Controllers 2x RJ45 1GbE
(Intel i210)
2x RJ45 1GbE
(Intel i210)
2x RJ45 10GbE
(Intel X557-AT2)
Board Management Controller ASPEED AST2400
IPMI LAN Controller 1x Realtek RTL8211E
Display Output 1x D-Sub VGA
USB Ports 2x USB 3.0 Type-A (Rear I/O)
uATX BOARDS D1540D4U-2T8R D1540D4U-2O8R D1540D4U-2T2O8R D1540D4U-2L+
SiP Intel Xeon D-1540
RAM 4x DDR4 DIMM Slots 2133 / 1866 MHz RDIMMs (Up to 128 GB)
PCIe Expansion Slots 1x PCIe 3.0 x8 (x16 physical) 1x PCIe 3.0 x16
1x PCIe 3.0 x8 (x8 physical) 1x PCIe 3.0 x8
Storage Controllers 6x SATAIII 6 Gbps from integrated PCH in the Xeon D SiP
(4x via mini-SAS connector)
(1x with SATA DOM support)
8x SAS3 12Gbps from LSI 3008 HBA
(via mini-SAS HD connector)
1x SATAIII 6 Gbps from Marvell 9172
(via M.2 2280 interface)
LAN Controllers 2x RJ45 10GbE
(Intel X550)
2x 10G SFP+ Fiber 2x 10G SFP+ Fiber 2x RJ45 1GbE
(Intel i350)
2x RJ45 10GbE
(Intel X540)
Board Management Controller ASPEED AST2400
IPMI LAN Controller 1x Realtek RTL8211E
Display Output 1x D-Sub VGA
USB Ports 2x USB 3.0 Type-A (Rear I/O)
1x USB 3.0 Type-A (Internal Connector)
1x USB 3.0 Header

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