Its problems have undoubtedly taken their toll on AMD, but now its quad-core Opteron is up to full speed we’re starting to see a number of blue-chip server manufacturers offering a range of solutions based on this processor.
The latest PowerEdge T605 from Dell brings together a pair of Opterons,
and delivers them in a pedestal system aimed primarily at remote branch and office deployments.
The T605 is well-suited to this role thanks to its remote management features: the review system comes with Dell’s OpenManage Server Administrator software and its DRAC (Dell remote access card) 5 controller. The latter allows the server to be accessed securely via a web browser, where it provides a dedicated Fast Ethernet port for remote access. Providing the server
is connected to a power source you can use the controller to access it, regardless of its condition, to monitor critical components and view environmental values.
From the controller’s tidy web interface the server can be powered on, off, cycled or reset. HP provides remote control as an optional extra with its
iLO2-embedded controller, but Dell includes it as standard, allowing you to monitor, access and configure the server’s BIOS and take charge of its OS. Access security is good: because SSL is supported you can use AD authentication and create local users with different privileges that determine what controller features they can access.
Basic remote access is also facilitated by an embedded IPMI 2.0 controller chip, which allows the server to be accessed over the LAN or serial port.
This is achieved via a command-line shell, although options are basic since
it only allows you to reboot the server and control its power supply. The Server Administrator looks more interesting, as it provides local and remote web and CLI management access to the server when it’s running. Its instrumentation service offers more information about hardware status than the DRAC, and also provides direct access for managing local storage.
The server is very nicely built and designed, with solid metal panels all round. The chunky front grille can be locked in place to prevent access to the hard disks, although it would have made sense if it protected the Power and Reset buttons as well. Nevertheless, the server sports Dell’s backlit LCD panel, which changes colour if faults are detected.
Fault tolerance needs to be good in remote office environments, and for storage the price includes a quartet of high-performance 73GB SAS hard disks mounted in Dell’s standard hot-swap carriers. The drive cage backplane
is linked up to Dell’s PERC 6/i RAID controller, which offers good array support including dual redundant RAID6 and 60. One of the front bays is occupied by a DVD drive, but there’s a second bay behind the front cover primarily for a tape drive device, and the motherboard has three spare SATA ports to facilitate this. Power redundancy is also well represented: the server came with a pair of hot-plug supplies.
With the lockable side panel removed there isn’t much to see, as Dell’s hidden the motherboard behind two large black plastic shrouds. However, they’re easy to remove, and behind the top you’ll find the two Opterons covered by large passive heatsinks. Each is accompanied by four DIMM sockets, and the price includes 16GB of DDR2 memory.
Remote offices value their peace and quiet, and Dell claims the T605 is low on noise levels. Cooling is handled by a 12cm diameter fan at the rear and a smaller one at the front and, to a large extent, Dell has kept this server quiet. However, it’s not as quiet as the Fujitsu Siemens Primergy TX300 S4. Dell does well on power. Our inline power meter measured the T605 pulling only 21W when powered off and in standby mode. With Windows Server 2003 R2 idling we saw an average draw of 247W, and with SiSoft Sandra hammering the eight processor cores to the max this climbed to 326W.
Network connectivity is handled by a single embedded Gigabit Ethernet port, and this includes the hardware activation key for its TOE (TCP offload engine). You’ll need to add more adapters, but Dell also includes Broadcom’s ACS software, which can be used to team multiple network ports together for redundant or load-balanced links. There’s room to expand as, although the RAID card occupies the 8x PCI Express slot, you’re still left with a pair of 4x PCI Express slots and one PCI-X.
Acoustics is the only area the T605 comes in for criticism, as it isn’t as quiet as Dell claims. Apart from that, this well-built pedestal server delivers all the necessary features – including bundled remote control hardware – for it to be a worthy candidate for deployment in remote offices.
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing