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Sun Microsystems Sun Fire X2270 review

Sun Microsystems joins the Nehalem club with a powerful 1U rack server that offers some unusual storage features.

The cooling design isn't as elegant as that offered by the X4140 as this is handled by three large blower fans mounted in front of the motherboard. They certainly live up to their name as noise levels are quite loud making the X2270 a candidate for the server room only. This surprised us as one of the key aims of Intel's 5500 processors is to reduce cooling demands.

Power redundancy isn't available as you only get a single 600W cold-swap supply. The X2270 is also uncomfortably hungry as we measured it drawing 23W in standby and 169W with Windows Server 2003 R2 idling along. With SiSoft Sandra stressing all sixteen logical cores we measured a peak draw of 267W.

To put this in perspective Dell's impressive new PowerEdge R610 drew 15W, 144W and 260W in the same tests. However, for our exclusive review of that system, Dell supplied a pair of 80W E5530 Xeons, 12GB of memory, dual redundant power supplies and four SFF SAS hard disks showing the R610 to be far more power efficient.

On a brighter note, remote server management is up with the best. Our X2270 came equipped with Sun's optional lILOM (integrated lights out management) chip, which presents a dedicated Fast Ethernet port at the rear. It provides full KVM-over-IP services, enabling the server to be controlled regardless of its condition.

The secure web interface is easy to use and opens with a status report on all critical components and their status. You don't get any nice graphs but a table is provided showing the values for all voltages, temperatures and fan speeds. Predefined thresholds are applied to each one and if breached you can have the ILOM issue an email alert or SNMP trap.

The ILOM puts Sun on a par with HP as most of its ProLiant servers come with an embedded iLO2 chip which offers a similar set of features. However, Sun also provides full remote control and virtual media services as standard whereas HP expects you to pay extra for the privilege. What you don't get is any of the sophisticated power capping, metering and regulation features offered by HP.

For general systems management, Sun offers its xVM Ops Center software suite, which is designed to monitor both x64 and Sparc platforms and provides features such as firmware provisioning, inventory, system monitoring and alerting. However, unlike Dell, IBM and HP you don't get the management software included as standard as it's only available as an option.

The X2270 is not the most impressive Sun Fire server we've seen as build quality and design isn't up with the likes of the X4140, for example. It is offering a decent hardware spec and good value but the high operational noise levels and thirst for power do go against it.

Verdict

Sun’s new 1U rack server delivers a good specification for the price, which includes Intel’s latest Xeon 5500 processors and a good helping of DDR3 memory. Standard remote management features are comparatively good and it supports some interesting high performance storage options but as an HPC node its power consumption is on the high side.

Chassis: 1U rack CPU: 2 x 2.26GHz L5520 Xeon Memory: 12GB 1066MHz DDR3 expandable to 48GB Storage: 500GB Seagate SATA hard disk in hot-swap carrier RAID: Intel ICH10R embedded SATA RAID controller Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 5 Expansion: 1 x PCI-e 16X Network: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet Power: 1 x 600W cold-swap power supply Management: ILOM with 10/100 Ethernet Software: Sun Installation Assistant

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