Fujitsu Siemens PRIMERGY RX600 S4
Fujitsu Siemens has been making a habit lately of early delivery of new server technology to market and well ahead of the usual suspects. It was first in our lab with AMD's quad-core Opteron 'Barcelona' which we exclusively reviewed recently as the PRIMERGY RX330 S1 solution in our sister title PC Pro Business (www.pcpro.co.uk). With its fourth generation PRIMERGY RX600 S4 it does it again as this is the first production server to sport Intel's new Xeon MP 7300 processors. Codenamed Tigerton, this family has eight members offering speeds ranging from 1.6GHz up to 2.93GHz with the review system equipped with the low power 50W L7345 model.
The new 7300 family will hopefully bring an end to the turbulent times Intel's Xeon MP high-end processors have endured. It effectively puts the E7100 dual-core Tulsa processors out of their misery and gives Intel something to bash AMD's quad-core Opteron with. They finally embrace Intel's Core technology so at last you can say goodbye to Intel's ancient NetBurst architecture. Apart from the E7310 and E7320 they all sport 8MB of L2 cache and the new 7300 Clarksboro chipset delivers Intel's DHSI (direct high-speed interconnect) for point to point connections with each of the processors.
The 4U chassis exhibits a sturdy industrial strength build quality and the front panel is divided into three main sections with large hot-swap fans mounted to the left and right. In the centre is a hot-swap drive bay with room for eight SFF SAS hard disks. The lack of support for 3.5in. hard disks isn't surprising as in an effort to play the green card most Tier-1 server vendors are moving to the small form factor models as these offer lower power consumption and heat output. Above the drive cage is a single 5.25in. expansion bay which is set aside for an optional tape drive. The ServerView LSD (Local Server Display) is a nifty feature as this little pop-out panel provides an LCD display showing a rundown on the system status, error messages and the IP addresses for each network interface.
The server comes with an LSI Logic based SAS RAID card which also brings dual redundant RAID-6 and -60 arrays into play. It has a decent 512MB of cache memory and can be upgraded with an optional battery backup pack. This level of RAID features is on a par with equivalent HP ProLiant servers and far superior to IBM's System boxes which have always been found wanting in this department.
The four processors are laid out in a line across the chassis and are mounted with large passive heatsinks. System memory is spread across four riser cards with two cards located on either side of the chassis and each pair partnered by two hot-swap cooling fans. We were mightily impressed with operational noise levels as they were so low we could easily hold a telephone conversation whilst standing right next to the server. The memory layout allows the server to take advantage of the chipset's memory sparing and mirroring facilities. The former reserves the last memory bank and will use it to replace one that had encountered too many correctable errors. Memory mirroring splits available system memory in two and duplicates data across each half.
The server offers a pile of PCI-e options as it has quartets of 8X and 4X slots and the faster ones are all the hot-plug variety. One PCI-e slot is located up at the front of the motherboard where it looks after the LSI RAID controller card. Fujitsu Siemens has been brushing up its server management act to get it in line with the likes of HP and IBM and it looks to have done a good job. The iRMC2 card fits into a proprietary slot, doubles the Gigabit port count and adds a dedicated Fast Ethernet management port. The RemoteView web interface offers good access to the server allowing you to control power functions and view the status of critical components. HP and IBM have been making a lot of noise about server power management tools and Fujitsu Siemens now includes these as well. You can choose between best performance or minimum power settings and schedule each one for different times each day.
ServerView looks after general management and offers a tidy web interface that can access any server with the relevant agent loaded. Critical areas including processor temperatures, fans and memory can be monitored from here while failures cause alarms and alerts to be generated. Power gets in on the act as you can load a window that shows what the selected system is consuming. And on the subject of power, earlier Xeon MPs were never known for their green qualities as they had an unhealthy appetite for power. The new models are much kinder on the planet and to test this we placed an in-line power meter on the review system. With the sixteen cores in idle we measured the server consuming around 356W. We then fired up SiSoft Sandra and loaded the processors up to over 90 per cent utilisation and saw consumption rise to an average of 471W. To put this in perspective we compared these results with those taken from a quad 7130M rack server we had in the lab last year. With four dual-core Tulsas pounding away the server was seen to consume a whopping 680W which fell to 420W in idle - enough said.
Fujitsu Siemens' server division has been building up momentum over the past eighteen months and this drive has consistently put it ahead of the competition for delivering new server processing technology to market. The RX600 S4 is a prime example and it sets a high standard as this well built system is big on value and small on power consumption.
Verdict: Fujitsu Siemens scores yet again with the first quad-core Xeon MP server to market and well ahead of its main rivals. The RX600 S4 sets a fine example as well as it delivers a quality specification for the price, remote server management sees a big improvement and it's easy on the utility supply.
4U rack chassis; 4 x 1.86GHz Intel L7345 Xeon MP; Intel 7300 chipset; 16GB 667MHz FB-DIMMs expandable to 128GB; LSI1078 PCI-e RAID controller with 512MB cache memory, supports RAID-0, -1, -10, -5, -50, -6, -60; 2 x 36GB Seagate Savio 15K.1 SFF SAS hard disks in hot-swap carriers; 4 x PCI-e 8X; 3 x PCI-e 4X; 4 x Gigabit Ethernet; 2 x 1570W redundant PSUs; Fujitsu Siemens iRMC S2 remote management card with 10/100 port; ServerView software suite bundled.