PowerScale F910 Platform

In this article, we’ll take a quick peek at the new PowerScale F910 hardware platform that was released last week. Here’s where this new node sits in the current hardware hierarchy:

The PowerScale F910 is the high-end all-flash platform that utilizes a dual-socket 4th gen Zeon processor with 512GB of memory and twenty four NVMe drives, all contained within a 2RU chassis. Thus, the F910 offers a generational hardware evolution, while also focusing on environmental sustainability, reducing power consumption and carbon footprint, and delivering blistering performance. This makes the F910 and ideal candidate for demanding workloads such as M&E content creation and rendering, high concurrency and low latency workloads such as chip design (EDA), high frequency trading, and all phases of generative AI workflows, etc.

An F910 cluster can comprise between 3 and 252 nodes. Inline data reduction, which incorporates compression, dedupe, and single instancing, is also included as standard to further increase the effective capacity.

The F910 is based on the 2U R760 PowerEdge server platform, with dual socket Intel Sapphire Rapids CPUs. Front-End networking options include 10/25 GbE and with 100 GbE for the Back-End network. As such, the F910’s core hardware specifications are as follows:

Attribute F910 Spec
Chassis 2RU Dell PowerEdge R760
CPU Dual socket, 24 core Intel Sapphire Rapids 6442Y @2.6GHz
Memory 512GB Dual rank DDR5 RDIMMS (16 x 32GB)
Journal 1 x 32GB SDPM
Front-end network 2 x 100GbE or 25GbE
Back-end network 2 x 100GbE
Management port LOM (LAN on motherboard)
PCI bus PCIe v5
Drives 24 x 2.5” NVMe SSDs
Power supply Dual redundant 1400W 100V-240V, 50/60Hz

These node hardware attributes can be easily viewed from the OneFS CLI via the ‘isi_hw_status’ command. Also note that, at the current time, the F910 is only available in a 512GB memory configuration.

Starting at the business end of the node, the front panel allows the user to join an F910 to a cluster and displays the node’s name once it has successfully joined:

As with all PowerScale nodes, the front panel display provides some useful current node environmentals telemetry. The ‘check’ button activates the panel and the ‘arrow’ buttons scroll to navigate, with the initial options being ‘Setup’ or View’, as below:

After selecting ‘View’, the menu presents ‘Power’ or ‘Thermal’:

Available thermal stats include BTU/hour:

Node temperature:

Air flow in cubic ft per minute (CFM):

Removing the top cover, the internal layout of the F910 chassis is as follows:

The Dell ‘Smart Flow’ chassis is specifically designed for balanced airflow, and enhanced cooling is primarily driven by four dual-fan modules. These fan modules can be easily accessed and replaced as follows:

Additionally, the redundant power supplies (PSUs) also contain their own air flow apparatus and can be easily replaced from the rear without opening the chassis. In the event of a power supply failure, the iDRAC LED on the rear panel of the node will turn orange:

Additionally, the front panel LCD display will indicate a PSU or power cable issue:

And the amber fault light on the front panel will illuminate at the end corresponding to the faulty PSU:

For storage, each PowerScale F910 node contains ten NVMe SSDs, which are currently available in the following capacities and drive styles:

Standard drive capacity SED-FIPS drive capacity SED-non-FIPS drive capacity
3.84 TB TLC 3.84 TB TLC
7.68 TB TLC 7.68 TB TLC
15.36 TB QLC Future availability 15.36 TB QLC
30.72 TB QLC Future availability 30.72 TB QLC

Note that 15.36TB and 30.72TB SED-FIPS drive options are planned for future release.

Drive subsystem-wise, the PowerScale F910 2RU chassis is fully populated with twenty four NVMe SSDs. These are housed in drive bays spread across the front of the node as follows:

The NVMe drive connectivity is across PCIe lanes, and these drives use the NVMe and NVD drivers. The NVD is a block device driver that exposes an NVMe namespace like a drive and is what most OneFS operations act upon, and each NVMe drive has a /dev/nvmeX, /dev/nvmeXnsX and /dev/nvdX device entry  and the locations are displayed as ‘bays’. Details can be queried with OneFS CLI drive utilities such as ‘isi_radish’ and ‘isi_drivenum’. For example:

# isi_drivenum

Bay  0   Unit 15     Lnum 9     Active      SN:S61DNE0N702037   /dev/nvd5

Bay  1   Unit 14     Lnum 10    Active      SN:S61DNE0N702480   /dev/nvd4

Bay  2   Unit 13     Lnum 11    Active      SN:S61DNE0N702474   /dev/nvd3

Bay  3   Unit 12     Lnum 12    Active      SN:S61DNE0N702485   /dev/nvd2

<snip>

Moving to the back of the chassis, the rear of the F910 contains the power supplies, network, and management interfaces, which are arranged as follows:

The F910 nodes are available in the following networking configurations, with a 25/100Gb ethernet front-end and 100Gb ethernet back-end:

Front-end NIC Back-end NIC F910 NIC Support
100GbE 100GbE Yes
100GbE 25GbE No
25GbE 100GbE Yes
25GbE 25GbE No

Note that, like the F710 and F210, an Infiniband backend is not supported on the F910 at the current time. Although this option will be added in due course.

These NICs and their PCI bus addresses can be determined via the ’pciconf’ CLI command, as follows:

# pciconf -l | grep mlx

mlx5_core0@pci0:23:0:0: class=0x020000 card=0x005815b3 chip=0x101d15b3 rev=0x00 hdr=0x00

mlx5_core1@pci0:23:0:1: class=0x020000 card=0x005815b3 chip=0x101d15b3 rev=0x00 hdr=0x00

mlx5_core2@pci0:111:0:0:        class=0x020000 card=0x005815b3 chip=0x101d15b3 rev=0x00 hdr=0x00

mlx5_core3@pci0:111:0:1:        class=0x020000 card=0x005815b3 chip=0x101d15b3 rev=0x00 hdr=0x00

Similarly, the NIC hardware details and drive firmware versions can be view as follows:

# mlxfwmanager
Querying Mellanox devices firmware ...

Device #1:
----------

  Device Type:      ConnectX6DX
  Part Number:      0F6FXM_08P2T2_Ax
  Description:      Mellanox ConnectX-6 Dx Dual Port 100 GbE QSFP56 Network Adapter
  PSID:             DEL0000000027
  PCI Device Name:  pci0:23:0:0
  Base GUID:        a088c20300052a3c
  Base MAC:         a088c2052a3c
  Versions:         Current        Available
     FW             22.36.1010     N/A
     PXE            3.6.0901       N/A
     UEFI           14.29.0014     N/A

  Status:           No matching image found

Device #2:
----------

  Device Type:      ConnectX6DX
  Part Number:      0F6FXM_08P2T2_Ax
  Description:      Mellanox ConnectX-6 Dx Dual Port 100 GbE QSFP56 Network Adapter
  PSID:             DEL0000000027
  PCI Device Name:  pci0:111:0:0
  Base GUID:        a088c2030005194c
  Base MAC:         a088c205194c
  Versions:         Current        Available
     FW             22.36.1010     N/A
     PXE            3.6.0901       N/A
     UEFI           14.29.0014     N/A

  Status:           No matching image found

Compared with its F900 predecessor, the F910 sees a number of hardware performance upgrades. These include a move to PCI Gen5, Gen 4 NVMe, DDR5 memory, Sapphire Rapids CPU, and a new software-defined persistent memory file system journal ((SPDM). Also the 1GbE management port has moved to Lan-On-Motherboard (LOM), whereas the DB9 serial port is now on a RIO card. Firmware-wise, the F910 and OneFS 9.8 require a minimum of NFP 12.0.

In terms of performance, the new F910 provides a considerable leg up on the previous generation F900. This is particularly apparent with NFSv3 streaming writes, as can be seen here:

OneFS node compatibility provides the ability to have similar node types and generations within the same node pool. In OneFS 9.8 and later, compatibility between the F910 nodes and the previous generation F900 platform is supported.

Component F900 F910
Platform R740 R760
Drives 24 x 2.5” NVMe SSD 24 x 2.5” NVMe SSD
CPU Intel Xeon 6240R (Cascade Lake) 2.4GHz, 24C Intel Xeon 6442Y (Sapphire Rapids) 2.6GHz, 24C
Memory 736GB DDR4 512GB DDR5

This compatibility facilitates the addition of individual F910 nodes to an existing node pool comprising three of more F900s if desired, rather than creating a F910 new node.

In compatibility mode with F900 nodes containing the 1.92TB drive option, the F910’s 3.84TB drives will be short stroke formatted, resulting in a 1.92TB capacity per drive.​ Also note that, while the F910 is node pool compatible with the F900, a performance degradation is experienced where the F910 is effectively throttled to match the performance envelope of the F900s. ​

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