Lenovo Delivers AI-Enhanced Edge Computing with NVIDIA GPUs

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  December 15, 2021

The case for edge computing is so compelling that it can obscure the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” nature of these solutions. The fact is that potentially valuable data has always existed or been generated at the edges of business networks whether they encompassed factory floors, retail outlets, remote locations, city streets or wireless infrastructures. What finally made edge computing possible and increasingly worthwhile are the evolutionary improvements that innovative vendors develop and deliver.

That point is highlighted in the new ThinkEdge SE450 servers that Lenovo introduced last week. By working closely with strategic hardware and software partners, Lenovo offers customers ways to solve complex problems with AI-enhanced solutions. Let’s consider that in more detail.

Lenovo ThinkEdge SE450 from the inside out

It is worth noting that Lenovo’s new solution is not its first AI-enabled edge server. That honor falls to the ThinkEdge SE350 the company launched in May 2020 which included a Xeon D-2100 CPU with up to 16 cores, up to 256GB of DDR4 memory and an optional single accelerator card. The SE350’s ultra-compact (1U, 8.27 inches X 15 inches) footprint, along with its rugged shock- and vibration-resistant design made it a natural fit for building control, IoT, manufacturing and distribution, retail and surveillance environments.

It is reasonable to consider the ThinkEdge SE450 as the “bigger sibling” of that original system in both size and capabilities. Within its 2U short depth (11.8 inches to 14.2 inches) form factor, Lenovo offers customers a 1X 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Platinum processor with up to 36 cores, up to 1TB of DDR4 memory and up to 4 single-width GPUs (150W) or 2 double-width GPUs (300W).

Lenovo noted that the ThinkEdge SE450 is one of the industry’s first NVIDIA-Certified edge systems with acceleration options, including NVIDIA A2, A30 and A100 Tensor Core GPUs. As a result, Lenovo’s new solution is capable of supporting multiple AI-enabled functions, including advanced analytics and real-time decision making. That makes the ThinkEdge SE450 a solid choice for a range of edge computing requirements, including vertically specific applications and business workloads.

Like other Lenovo systems, the ThinkEdge SE450 can be automatically installed and managed with Lenovo Open Cloud Automation (LOC-A) and configured with Lenovo XClarity Orchestrator software. The new solutions will be available in March 2022 through Lenovo and its channel partners, including those participating in the recently announced Lenovo 360 partner framework. The new systems will also be available as-a-Service through Lenovo TruScale, which extends workloads from the edge to the cloud in a consumption-based model.

Strategic partner contributions

An interesting point about the ThinkEdge SE450 launch was Lenovo’s focus on the role of its ecosystem of strategic partners. The company noted that the new solution followed “an agile hardware development approach with partners and customers” culminating in “multiple prototypes, with live trials running real workloads in telecommunication, retail and smart city settings.” As a result, the ThinkEdge SE450 arrives supporting a wide variety of edge workloads and for extending on-premises clouds leveraging Microsoft, NVIDIA, Red Hat and VMware technologies.

However, other strategic partners, including specialist ISVs, also played significant roles in the new solution’s prototype and live trial exercises. For example, in Barcelona ThinkEdge SE450 systems were deployed in street cabinets to host edge AI use cases, including supporting tourism services, traffic management and security. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Etisalat is using the ThinkEdge SE450 for hosting 5G networks delivered on edge sites and introducing new edge applications to enterprises.

Other strategic partners involved in the prototype and live trial activities included Intel (mobile edge computing), Capgemini (5G networks and vertical use cases), byteLAKE (manufacturing), The EDGE Company (smarter cities) and Everseen (retail).

These are further examples of Lenovo’s longstanding strategy of tapping into the energies and unique capabilities of strategic partners. As a result, the company has been able to increase the speed, efficiency and capabilities of its solution development efforts.

Final analysis

So how does the new ThinkEdge SE450 fit into Lenovo’s larger strategy and enterprise portfolio? In essence, the company is offering enterprises a powerful, secure, quiet, compact and rugged solution for constrained, often harsh environments that is also easy to deploy, manage and maintain remotely. In addition, the optional NVIDIA Tensor Core GPUs should allow customers to support robust AI-enabled functions at the far edges of their networks to derive valuable insights and speedy decision making.

At one level, the ThinkEdge SE450 is a standout new product from a company well known for its leadership in server performance and capabilities. But at another, it qualifies as the latest example of how continuing technological evolution substantially impacts and transforms the ways that organizations, including Lenovo customers, deploy, manage and benefit from computing innovations.

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