Boston Labs unboxes the new Supermicro X13 Hyper Super Server 121H-TNR

Posted on 30 January, 2023

Today we will be looking at the latest addition to our test hardware pool at Boston Labs – the Supermicro SYS-121H-TNR server from the X13 Hyper line-up, powered by the brand new 4th generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors. The target workloads for this server are virtualisation, AI, SDS and high-end enterprise.

To gain insight into the advantages of Intel's 4th Gen Scalable Processors, refer to our latest blog post here.

CONFIGURE YOUR SYSTEM

What is Supermicro’s Hyper server range?

The all-new Hyper series represents the next generation of Supermicro rackmount servers built with the highest performance features to take on the most demanding workloads, along with the storage & I/O flexibility that provide a custom fit to your application needs. Maintenance-friendly design innovations eliminate the need for tools when servicing the system. The Hyper range is the evolution and replacement for the Supermicro Ultra server family on their X13 and H13 generation.

Packaging and Content

It's important to note that the server we will be unboxing is a pre-production sample, so some aspects may differ from the final production units.

The server was shipped in a typical Supermicro double-layered cardboard packaging. As with all Supermicro rack-mount servers, it arrived with a tool-less rail kit and accessories, which included power cables and screws.

Exterior

The SYS-121H-TNR is a rear I/O server that utilises a 1U chassis with a depth of 17.2 inches. At the front of the server, there is a power-on button, several LED indicators, one USB Type-A port, and the service tag with a unique IPMI password. The server also has eight hybrid 2.5-inch drive bays that support SATA, SAS, or PCIe 5.0 NVMe drives. You may have noticed that one-third of the front of the chassis is covered with blanking plates - this space can be used for further expansion. For example, the server can be configured with additional storage bays, I/O, or networking modules. Supermicro is currently working on many expansion options for the Hyper series, which will provide even greater flexibility.

The server features a lid-release button with a locking mechanism on top, which makes opening and closing the lid easier. This is an improvement over their previous chassis designs, which used a dual release catch mechanism that was not as reliable and often became stuck.

At the back of the server, we have access to basic server I/O ports such as RJ45 for IPMI, dual USB Type-A, VGA for display output, and ports from installed expansion cards. Furthermore, two redundant, hot-swappable 1200W Titanium level CRPS power supplies are used to power the entire server.

The back of the chassis supports 3 standard PCIe 5.0 x16 full-height expansion cards and one Supermicro AIOM (Advanced I/O Module), which is compatible with OCP 3.0 standard. The AIOM offers flexible networking options without utilising standard PCIe card expansion slots, with choices ranging from 1GbE to 100GbE.

What's inside?

After opening the lid, we have access to the motherboard and all other internal server components.

The SYS-121H-TNR is powered by a Supermicro X13DEM motherboard, which uses a proprietary to a Supermicro form factor. It features two CPU sockets (Socket E / LGA-4677) that support 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with up to 60 cores and 350W TDP, and 32 memory slots that support DDR5-4800MHz with up to 8TB of capacity. Since the board is designed to be installed in 1U and 2U servers, it does not have traditional PCIe expansion slots. Instead, it has multiple proprietary PCIe slots that are designed to be paired with 1U or 2U risers, as well as multiple MCIO ports (PCIe 5.0 x8) that are used to connect additional card expansion slots and the disk backplane.

Supermicro X13DEM Close Up

The server was pre-installed with two Xeon 8480+ processors and 16 pieces of 32GB DDR5-4800 memory. The entire server is cooled by 8 x 40x40x56mm high-performance cooling fans and shrouds that help direct air to the hot spots. For optimal performance and power efficiency, Supermicro also offers a liquid cooling option which is necessary for selected 4th Gen Intel Scalable Processor SKU’s that have a higher power output and cooling requirements.

Improvements over the Supermicro Ultra series

In our view, the SYS-121H-TNR is one of the most well-designed dual-processor servers that Supermicro offers. The company has made significant design improvements over their Ultra server range to make it as user-friendly and easy to maintain as possible. The Hyper series servers are entirely tool-less - the motherboard, risers, disk backplane, storage drives, and expansion cards are secured within the chassis with thumb screws or clips, making them easy to remove without the need for a screwdriver. However, a torx driver is still required to unscrew the CPU heat sink, this is standard procedure, as dictated by Intel, but worth remembering to keep a driver in your toolkit.

Supermicro has made their 1U cooling fans hot-swappable, by incorporating a built-in 6-pin connector in a solid plastic housing that plugs directly into the motherboard. This eliminates the concern of excess fan cables getting caught by the fan blades or having to locate a dedicated 4-pin fan connector on the motherboard.

It's great to see guide stickers on the chassis lid that assist in understanding the meaning of various LED functions. Additionally, stickers on riser brackets explain the process of installing or removing expansion cards. These features make Supermicro servers even more user-friendly, which will be appreciated by hardware engineers who work with them, as well as third-party on-site engineers who may not be fully familiar with the servers and need to make a repair.

Detailed Specs

For those interested in all the finer technical details the full specification, as provided by Supermicro, can be found here.

Conclusion

Supermicro’s Hyper range is truly a flagship, high performance rack-mount server which is ready for practically every challenge.  Intel’s 4th Generation Xeon Scalable processor too brings a raft of performance enhancements and new features which truly differentiate it from the competition. New features like DDR5, PCIe 5.0, more processing cores and application specific accelerators mean you cannot ignore the combination for your next systems refresh.

At Boston Labs, we strive to empower our customers by providing the knowledge and resources needed to make informed decisions on the right hardware, software, and overall solution for their specific needs.

If you’d like to test drive or learn more about the Supermicro SYS-121H-TNR, our team are standing by to work with you and bring your next IT project to reality.

Contact our knowledgeable sales and technical team today at [email protected] or call us on 01727 876100 and experience the capabilities of the 4th generation Intel Scalable Processors yourself.

Author:
Tom Michalski
Senior FAE at Boston Limited

Tags: supermicro, superserver, x13, hyper, unboxing, boston labs

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