Lenovo thinkstation/nice server/workstation

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richard.dzavoronok

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Jun 23, 2021
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Is there something you're using VROC for that zfs/mdadm wouldn't suffice?
The thing is I'll be using that workstation as my main PC with Win 10 on it so no zfs. I just wanted basic redundancy for my data.

In case you don't need VROC but don't know if the Asus Hyper M.2 will work without a VROC key...yes it will. Assuming you have bifurcation support on the motherboard and its set correctly, the Operating System should show you four separate drives...at least WIndows & Linux will. The usual caveat that they (probably) won't appear in BIOS anywhere, but you should still be able to boot from them if your system supports it.
I couldn't find any info on bifurcation in manual/datasheet.

The manual for the card says that you can do RAID 0 without a key, but it sounds like you can only do any type of VROC-based RAID if you're using Intel SSDs.
It says, that it will work on x299/z370 chipsets, however P520 is C422, not sure about that.
I saw multiple photos of that card filled with mixed vendor ssds, it should work with non-intel nvmes.

With the Hyper M.2 the four drives will appear to the operating system as four separate drives. From there, you should be able to do any software based RAID you want that will work with four drives. I have a Hyper M.2 with four drives in my NAS. I have an additional 5 drives in other M.2 cards/motherboard M.2. I've got all nine of them together in a ZFS RAIDZ2. In the past, I've used the same card for a striped mirror. If you stick to software based RAID like ZFS/MDADM, there's really no limitations.
Thanks!
 
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ghost792

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Jun 19, 2023
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I couldn't find any info on bifurcation in manual/datasheet.


It says, that it will work on x299/z370 chipsets, however P520 is C422, not sure about that.
I saw multiple photos of that card filled with mixed vendor ssds, it should work with non-intel nvmes.
I believe the card will work with other branded SSDs, but it will only allow VROC based RAID with Intel SSDs.
I haven’t seen any information about the P520 supporting bifurcation.
 
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ghost792

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Jun 19, 2023
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According to this Reddit and Lenovo community posts say the P520 and P620 do. My P920 does.
I couldn't see the post on Reddit (server error on the site), so I looked through the Lenovo User Guide and platform specs for the P520. I didn't find anything about bifurcation, but I did find mention on the Lenovo forums about a Lenovo quad M.2 PCIe card. I looked up the compatibility matrix of the card and the P520 supports it. I checked the UEFI/BIOS of my P520 (which I should have done in the first place) and the two x16 slots have bifurcation settings available.
 

DarthCirrus

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Dec 12, 2022
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According to this Reddit and Lenovo community posts say the P520 and P620 do. My P920 does.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Lenovo/comments/10vktct
Can confirm my P620 supports bifurcation.

You guys think this will fit a 4090? its for AI not gaming so the cpu doesn't matter
4090 fits, but only with a cableMod 90 or 180 degree adaptor. You will also need two 6 pin to 8 pin adaptors (FRU 00XL159). The power for the P620 is build into the main board and main board only has 2 pcie 8 pins.
 
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klui

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Feb 3, 2019
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4090 fits, but only with a cableMod 90 or 180 degree adaptor. You will also need two 6 pin to 8 pin adaptors (FRU 00XL159). The power for the P620 is build into the main board and main board only has 2 pcie 8 pins.
@DarthCirrus I've read about the need for special power adapters for these Lenovo ThinkStations. I don't have a need for high end GPUs and have a single-slot P4000.

I'm confused why there is a need for a 6-to-8 pin adapter when the P620 already has 8-pin connectors.
 
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DarthCirrus

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Dec 12, 2022
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@DarthCirrus I've read about the need for special power adapters for these Lenovo ThinkStations. I don't have a need for high end GPUs and have a single-slot P4000.

I'm confused why there is a need for a 6-to-8 pin adapter when the P620 already has 8-pin connectors.
@malloot asked if his 4090 fits, and it does, but that gpu requires four 8 pin connectors, and the p620 only has two 8 pin and two 6 pin connectors.
 

richard.dzavoronok

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Jun 23, 2021
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Great! So bifurcation question solved :)
How much power it draws in idle?
Is it possible to use consumer cpu fan? I saw some people complaining about noise.
How fast is booting to desktop?
 
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ghost792

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Great! So bifurcation question solved :)
How much power it draws in idle?
Is it possible to use consumer cpu fan? I saw some people complaining about noise.
How fast is booting to desktop?
I’ve never checked the idle power.
You might be able to use consumer fans, but I believe it will take some work to get them to work. I think the fan connectors are proprietary (don’t quote me).
Noise is less than my 2012 Mac Pro, which was already pretty quiet.
Boot to the desktop on the stock m.2 drive is about two minutes 60-90 seconds. That’s with 64GB of memory, two SSDs, and a two drive RAID on HDDs.
 
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Helzy

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T'would be interesting if the shipping wasn't $232 USD, $300 CAD yikes
 
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klui

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Except for servers, this is the first time I've purchased this class of workstation/desktop. Perhaps it's due to the generation but the P920 does some funky, maybe more along the lines of inconsistent things during bootup/restart. The system would take at least a 30 seconds to go through POST and while I never timed it my guess is a minute if CSM (legacy/UEFI compatibility) is enabled.

I noticed sometimes it beeps and sometimes it does not at bootup/restart. Maybe it's due to power unplug before power on.

Then sometimes it ramps the fan up for a second but sometimes it does not during a reboot.

The computer displays "Lenovo" during POST and it displays "To interrupt normal startup, press Enter" at the lower left. Depending on options selected in the BIOS this message remain at different timeouts. It would be nice if the message could reflect if Enter has been pressed because flakey keyboards could offer a false sense of confidence that the key was pressed. Dell's POST display shows this feedback.

I don't like these "quiet" boots and prefer messages display POST codes/descriptions along with any OPROM messages like what Supermicro does. Supermicro does both, providing a graphical logo with POST status on the bottom. The front bezel does have a POST code LED but if showing POST codes is turned on the display remains on until system is turned off. I just have it display error codes only. There are LEDs for the front USB ports and they are lit up while the system is on. I'm on the fence about these USB LEDs: it's nice when it's dark and I need to find the port. My computer room is quite dark/dim most of the time but an annoyance when I don't need to plug anything into USB. There is no LED for the card reader.

One more thing that happened to the system several days ago. As I am still transferring my data and setting things up, after "To interrupt normal startup, press Enter" disappears instead of booting to a boot device (storage, network), anything except BIOS, it would display "Error sending end of POST to ME!" on the upper left hand corner then boot loop. It was obvious something was corrupted but what to do to recover. Most folks on the internet, including Lenovo support suggests updating the BIOS but I couldn't do that without the ability to boot an OS. And the BIOS does not have a BIOS update feature like Dells do. I remember the last thing I did was to update the ME firmware around a week prior. Typically updating ME firmware should be done after updating to the latest BIOS. I remember the updater completed and then perhaps an hour or so later I saw the system update again then reboot. I thought nothing of it but noticed the BIOS showed Intel AMT was enabled but I couldn't disable it. Clearly something was not right and ME got some bad setting.

Out of desperation I looked for the CMOS clear jumper and bridged it to "clear settings" then powered up. It booted and sounded 2 quick beeps then repeats. Powered down and moved the jumper to "normal" position. It took much longer to boot, and that resolved the problem. The BIOS now allowed unconfiguring Intel AMT. A slight tangent, it's a shame Intel is having financial trouble as they have laid off their employees who created MeshCommander and MeshCentral so these tools are no longer developed. Their Github and NPM repos will still be maintained. While I never used MeshCentral, MeshCommander is the easiest way to manage Intel AMT-enabled systems.

The noise is probably a little louder than my Z620 but I'm facing the rear in its current "migration" position so it's not a good indicator. Besides it has two CPUs instead of one. Overall it's pretty quiet compared to my X11DPU. The X11DPU is not bad for a 1U server either when the BIOS is set correctly. I recall something about OS controlling fans then things ramp down quickly after OS/PXE boots.
 

richard.dzavoronok

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Jun 23, 2021
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Does P520 accept 22110 (11cm long) m.2 nvme drives on motherboard slots? I see there is a bump for the other m.2 sizes but I could not find specs anywhere.
 
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klui

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Feb 3, 2019
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Lenovo Support states it does for the P620 and reference manual shows the P520's M.2 mounting configuration is the same as the P620's. It's important to note these workstations have not been designed to accept double-sided M.2s.



P520

P620
 

mjdillon

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Apr 1, 2022
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Does P520 accept 22110 (11cm long) m.2 nvme drives on motherboard slots? I see there is a bump for the other m.2 sizes but I could not find specs anywhere.
There's a bump for 22110 drives in my p520, it seems like it's kind of obscured in a bunch of Lenovo's promo photos, but they're definitely there.
 
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ghost792

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Jun 19, 2023
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There's a bump for 22110 drives in my p520, it seems like it's kind of obscured in a bunch of Lenovo's promo photos, but they're definitely there.
They show up in the User Guide's diagrams for installing M.2 drives, too. You need to scroll past the section about the M.2 storage cage. One caveat to using 22110 drives is that it looks like the M.2 heat sink won't cover their full length. I don't know how much of a problem that may be.
 

mjdillon

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Apr 1, 2022
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They show up in the User Guide's diagrams for installing M.2 drives, too. You need to scroll past the section about the M.2 storage cage. One caveat to using 22110 drives is that it looks like the M.2 heat sink won't cover their full length. I don't know how much of a problem that may be.
My system didn't actually arrive with the heatsink, so I added some noname m.2 heatsinks from amazon. (These to be specific: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082VTVP51 )

I only used three of the screws, since there was only clearance for one screws-width between the drives after the added width of the heatsinks, but there was a surprising amount of clearance on the bottom.

Honestly, I probably wouldn't add them again if I was doing it over. I don't think those m.2 slots need a heatsink at all; the case fan is two inches away and directed right at them.
 
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klui

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I had concerns about this, too. But @mjdillon is correct. It's right next to a fan. The heatsink size and closeness to fan placement also applies to the P920. My 22110 idles at ~30°.

I presume most of the heat will be coming from the controller and they're next to the edge connector. Some sticks will have memory modules towards the rear, while others only have passives there. My drive has memory modules at the rear.