Seznam, a major player in the Czech Republic internet market, in a search to upgrade its hardware infrastructure, found in GIGABYTE the ideal hardware solution partner to increase scalability and performance of its online services, resulting in major improvements in efficiency.
Krasty, the lively and sincere Seznam mascot
Seznam and the services they provide
Seznam.cz is an internet web portal and search engine leader in the Czech Republic. The vision of Seznam is to be a content, advertising, knowledge, social and communication platform for all users. It is primarily a technology company believing that its product innovations will help it to succeed against current and future competitors and maintain its position as a leader in the Czech Republic online market.
Seznam's main page, which is visited monthly by up to six million people, includes a search engine, e-mail services, news, TV programmes, weather forecasts etc. Almost half of all internet users in the Czech Republic have Seznam.cz set as their homepage. With all its products and services, Seznam reaches 95% of Czech internet users.
Seznam outside the Czech borders - high valued worldwide mapping service for tourists
One of the services Seznam has been developing since 2013 is Mapy.cz. Compared to its foreign competitors like Google, the Czech application uses a community driven geographic database to create a map that appears like a classic printed map. In the application, individual countries of the world can be downloaded for offline use. The application works in offline mode when viewing the world map as well as when planning routes and searching. In addition to the Czech language, the mobile application includes localization into many other languages. A community of volunteers local and abroad cooperate on translations into these languages. The number of active users of the application at its peak exceeds over four million users.
The coverage of the Czech Republic territory is based on its own map data, the rest of the world is taken from the project OpenStreetMap data. The many features of the application include tourist and traffic navigation, and a route planner that uses either by car, public transport, bike, on foot and other ways. The application contains many points of interest with their own descriptions or descriptions from Wikipedia and photos uploaded by the users themselves. Unlike other global map applications, it features a global tourist map and a global winter map, which resemble classic printed maps in appearance.
Planning a trip is easy with Mapy.cz
The initial hardware challenges Seznam faced
Miroslav Bezdička, a hardware manager at Seznam explains, “Due to the number and the nature of our services, the number of servers that take care of continuous operation gradually increased. In the beginning we used standard rack servers from well-known vendors in various configurations. Once we reached a size of around 10,000 servers and had a massive increase in demand for virtualization and containers, this solution was no longer appropriate.
The complexity of different firmware from different manufacturers, together with the lack of a single tool for orchestration of servers from different manufacturers, gradually led us to develop our own tools that use only basic remote management and monitoring functionality, which allowed us to work more efficiently with all our servers.
“Over time, we have become independent of the proprietary tools of server vendors, and together with the virtualization we have used, we have been able to reduce the number of server configurations.
“Around the same time, the Open Compute Project (OCP) was founded, which inspired us to develop our own hardware. From our experience, we knew exactly what functionality we needed and since we were not going to sell the servers to the market, this allowed us to develop a minimalistic and cost-effective server design that met our exact needs. Most of the components we use are sourced directly from component manufacturers, but due to availability we have and select alternative source options wherever possible.”
The solutions GIGABYTE hardware provided
Seznam is currently running the fourth generation of its own server design. And since the third generation, they have been using motherboards from GIGABYTE.
Mr. Bezdička explains, “As a globally known and proven manufacturer of computer hardware, GIGABYTE offers high quality products. In addition, thanks to the excellent support directly from the development department, we have all the information we need for the proprietary interfaces we use in our servers. Although we have the option of custom modifications, we try to use standard components as much as possible and in cooperation with GIGABYTE to participate in the development of required features of these standard components. The fact that we use standard components ensures flexible and fast firmware updates.”
Today, more than 5,000 servers based on GIGABYTE hardware provide a stable and high-performance platform for all Seznam applications.
Thomas Yen, a senior sales director at GIGABYTE for the EMEA region goes on to say, “We are proud to have Seznam as a partner and provide them with the latest server technology on which they can build their computing infrastructure. The success of Seznam’s internet services proves that GIGABYTE provides reliable, high-quality server platforms on which customers can successfully build and improve upon. It also shows that it is still possible to compete with large international players when the right people and resources are brought together to create amazing products. We are dedicated to continuing our relationship with Seznam to help them grow and become even more successful.”
Czech internet users rely on Seznam’s data center built with GIGABYTE servers
The Seznam infrastructure based on GIGABYTE hardware
GIGABYTE server motherboards, integrated in Seznam’s own custom-designed servers, offer sustainability and cost-effective solutions to run their search engine infrastructure flawlessly. The custom-designed servers are based on GIGABYTE server motherboards for the AMD EPYC™ platform.
Next to their own custom-designed servers, Seznam has also integrated GIGABYTE servers in their web portal infrastructure. These servers offer different use cases to streamline their day-to-day services and offer their users an optimised search experience.
The server motherboards and servers run on AMD EPYC™ 7003 Series processors, and they deliver exceptional performance, efficiency, and scalability. AMD EPYC™ 7003 Series processors have set a standard for performance and efficiency for mainstream data centres. Customers that have done extensive application qualification on DDR4 and PCIe Gen4 technology and seek performant, cost-effective solutions to data centre challenges, can find tremendous value with AMD EPYC™ 7003 processor-based servers. Based on the 7nm process node, AMD EPYC 7003 Series processors support up to 64 cores and 128 threads. They also support up to 4TB DDR4 memory per socket up to 3200MHz. There are 128 fast PCIe 4.0 lanes available in a single socket system and up to 160 lanes in a dual socket system, for high throughput between the CPU and drives or accelerators.
However, Seznam does not use the maximal configuration supported by the EPYC™ 7003 platform. The typical configuration is 512GB of memory and a 24 core (48 thread) processor.
Seznam’s infrastructure is built upon the robust foundation of GIGABYTE’s R-series and G-series (GPU) servers, each meticulously configured to serve distinct purposes within the system.
Storage Node: The GIGABYTE R271-Z00 stands as a stalwart component for storage purposes. With a compact single socket design, the server accommodates up to 64 CPU cores from an AMD EPYC 7003 series processor. In terms of storage, it boasts 8 x 2.5" SATA/SAS and 2 x 2.5" PCIe 3.0 NVMe hot-swappable bays, ensuring a flexible and scalable storage solution.
GPU Nodes: Designed for highly parallel computing workloads, the GIGABYTE G242-Z10 is a GPU-optimised server housed in a 2U form factor. Its architecture supports up to four PCIe Gen 3.0 x 16 expansion slots for GPUs, alongside an additional two low-profile slots and one OCP 2.0 mezzanine card. This configuration not only facilitates substantial parallel processing capabilities but also allows for the incorporation of networking or storage expansions. The G242-Z10 further enhances efficiency by incorporating four 3.5” SATA hot-swap HDD bays in the front and two 2.5” NVMe/SATA SSD bays in the rear. This is a system fine-tuned for GPU accelerated computing, strategically reducing overhead costs by moving from a dual socket configuration to a single socket with an AMD EPYC processor.
Tailored to support intensive GPU computing and the latest PCIe technology, the GIGABYTE G493-ZB0 stands out for its versatility. The server features eight double-slot PCIe 5.0 x16 GPUs and offers a range of networking options and storage configurations. Seznam leveraged the power of the G493-ZB0 and NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs to build a powerful standalone supercomputer for its language models. This configuration combines the full power of NVIDIA H100 GPUs with optimised NVIDIA AI Enterprise and NVIDIA HPC software to deliver unparalleled performance in scientific simulation, data analysis and AI applications.
Overall, Seznam’s strategic use of GIGABYTE server products underscore its commitment to cutting-edge technology, optimising each component for specific tasks and collectively forming a powerful infrastructure for high-end computing needs.
By providing innovative hardware solutions, Seznam and GIGABYTE continue to collaborate and create the optimal platform to stay competitive and still reach maximum performance and reliability. By working in multiple stages in development and implementation, Seznam is able to provide market leading services to its customers.