Huawei Servers: A Testament to Persistence and Innovation

2016/08/18 • Data Center, Feature • Views: 738

Cloud computing, Big Data, and mobile connectivity are disrupting the IT world, crowding the landscape with boundless opportunities as well as challenges.

Traditional enterprises, among them financial, utility, and transportation corporations, and Internet powerhouses, are starting to build large scale data centers to address business-critical IT demands. Coming in at the top of the IT data center requirement list are servers, upon which pivot everything that is needed to deliver on IT expectations.

Yet the server industry is full of unpredictability, as is everything about the IT industry. Years ago, there was a legendary phone maker who was enthusiastic about making cell phones with jaw-dropping shock resistance and high conversational quality. It was not long afterwards that smartphone makers shattered the old-school cell phone empire, as if overnight, and toppled this giant. In the server industry, making one’s own competitive differentiation is a literally matter of make or break for every server vendor.

Early Mover, Pacesetter and Trail Blazer

The global mainframe and midrange markets have been shrinking while x86-based servers that boast better economics and performance are starting to replace midrange computers and becoming the mainstay. In addition to their traditional services, enterprises are also shifting their business-critical services to x86 servers because they deliver appealing performance and reliability.

Moreover, showing obvious advantages in large-scale deployment, high-density servers have become the super nova of the Internet industry and emerged as the industry mainstream server. According to a report by Gartner, the market share of high-density server shipments has rocketed from 0.9 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2015.

Claiming a steady market share among the server system, blade servers are also seeing year-over-year increases. In light of the benefits brought by its converged architecture, there is still a sizable market potential awaiting blade servers.

Another buzzword in the current server market is the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI). HCI means not only the convergence of the underlying hardware, such as compute, storage, and network resources, but also convergence with the upper-layer distributed storage software. The ability to offer software and hardware integrated solutions will become the differentiator in the game.

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Traditional SAS/SATA hard drives have unavoidable IOPS bottlenecks which constrain service performance, and NVMe SSD cards emerge as a remedy to this situation by delivering ultra-high IOPS and bandwidth. Above are the latest trends that are happening in the server world. The early mover in this game will gain the upper hand. Well, Huawei does not miss an opportunity when it comes to the server business.

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Figure 1: Four development directions of Huawei servers

According to a product strategy plan that has reportedly “leaked” from Huawei, Huawei has very clear ideas about what servers to make and how to make them. Based on the traditional 1U and 2U rack servers, Huawei builds high-density servers for large-scale data centers, offers 4-socket, 8-socket, and above mission-critical servers for all-important services of enterprises, and delivers converged architecture blade servers and HCI for customers requiring integrated deployment and unified management. In addition to these offerings, Huawei provides innovative NVMe SSD cards, which turbo-charge server storage performance and remove the I/O bottlenecks that bother most customers. However, Huawei has a bigger vision than just drawing a product map.

Innovation at the Heart of Excellence

Huawei dives deep into every flagship product and hones them to perfection with persistent innovations, finally presenting a fleet of servers that grab the industry’s attention.

At CeBIT 2016, Huawei unveiled KunLun, the world’s first x86-based 32-socket mission-critical server. KunLun leverages a groundbreaking technology that interconnects 32 CPUs through a Node Controller (NC) chip and is hardened with novice Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS) 2.0 technologies that unleash single-node reliability and performance surpassing those of the existing standard open platform devices. RAS 2.0 provides a powerful pack of features including Predictive Failure Analysis (PFA), and CPU and DIMM hot-swap.

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Figure 2: KunLun

Huawei is also one of the earliest vendors to dip their toes in the high-density server business. In 2010, Huawei launched the X6000 high-density server. In 2014, Huawei presented FusionServer X6800 with the highest storage density of the time. X6800 addresses service requirements such as Big Data, High-Performance Computing (HPC), and graphics acceleration based on the “one architecture for multiple services” design. This innovative design makes service optimization, server deployment, and O&M dramatically more convenient for customers.

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Figure 3: FusionServer X6800

Another star in Huawei’s server lineup is the FusionServer E9000 blade server. Offering compute, storage, and network all in one package, the E9000 simplifies deployment and management and delivers superior performance that shatters multiple records in the SPEC CPU2006 tests, a compute-intensive industry standard benchmark suite. Recently, E9000 keeps astounding the industry with one unique feature after another. These features include the board-level liquid cooling blade, which consumes 40 percent less power; all-flash blade, which supports up to 96 NVMe SSDs in one chassis; and 100 Gbit/s InfiniBand EDR, which supports 100 Gbit/s high-speed, low-delay networking. With the CH225 all-flash blades, when fully configured with NVMe SSD cards, FusionServer E9000 delivers a storage capacity of up to 307.2 TB per chassis — about 10 million IOPS per blade — taking the lead in the all-flash blade server era.

Huawei provides two types of HCI based on the X6800 high-density server and the E9000 blade server, which are the FusionCube 6000 and FusionCube 9000 respectively. Differing from the traditional configuration — where compute, storage, network, and software are purchased from different vendors and deployed separately — Huawei’s FusionCube packs hardware and software into one box, and provides a holistic solution that resolves customers’ troubles to an extent that they have not dared to imagine before. Using Huawei’s FusionCube, customers no longer need to worry about the connection, compatibility, and maintenance issues of devices that would arise in the multi-vendor scenario.

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Figure 4: FusionCube

Huawei’s state-of-the-art ES3000 V3 NVMe SSD card complies with the NVMe standard. Through standard NVMe deployment, IT enterprises reap unprecedented benefits in terms of application performance, server consolidation, installation simplification, Linux and Windows management, as well as virtualization environment. The ES3000 V3 boosts service performance for applications such as database, virtualization, HPC, and searching, and drives down system TCO for IT enterprises.

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Figure 5: Huawei ES3000 V3 NVMe SSD

According to the latest Gartner market report (Q1, 2016), Huawei has steadily ranked No. 4 for 11 consecutive quarters by server shipment volume, where the 8-socket mission-critical servers claim the highest global growth rate and blade servers the largest shipment volume in China. Service-driven innovation and potent market performance have helped Huawei move up from the Niche Players quadrant to the Challengers quadrant in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Modular Servers 2016.

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Figure 6: Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Modular Servers 2016

It is no random success that Huawei has made it this far and still keeps moving forward in the server sector. Huawei does not stop at just selling metal boxes. Instead, it goes to stubborn lengths and has invested a wealth of brains and effort to make sure that every server it ships is a masterpiece of innovation.

So, to conclude, there is no random success.  In order to thrive in the marketplace, there are no shortcuts. Only consistent perfection, innovation, and exploration—which is what makes Huawei a leader in this field.

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