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Nehalem tower servers: Dell, Fujitsu, HP

Nehalem tower servers: Dell, Fujitsu, HP

Three new servers combine huge performance gains with excellent management tools; choice comes down to expandability, price

Nehalem tower servers: Power consumption compared

Dell PowerEdge T610

Fujitsu Primergy TX300

HP ProLiant ML350

Standby (plugged in, powered off)

14.5 Watts

15.7 Watts

7.8 Watts

Idle (booted up, no load)

136.6 Watts

223.8 Watts

156.4 Watts

100% CPU utilization

307.7 Watts

366.9 Watts

322.3 Watts

The advanced version of iRMC (available via upgrade) allows for better video redirection to the remote admin without the need for the JVM, supports two simultaneous "virtual" connections to the same server, and best of all, provides virtual media capabilities. Both standard and advanced iRMC integrate seamlessly into Fujitsu's ServerView Suite management platform.

Bottom line: The Primergy TX300 is the largest server in the roundup, but boasts the most drive bays and USB ports of the group. It is also the most expensive server and has the most fan noise of the three servers tested. Remote management is great, and its performance numbers were right with the Dell and HP servers. One big negative is its power usage --- by far worst of the bunch.

HP ProLiant ML350

Answer: Death, taxes, and HP ProLiant servers. Question: What can you always count on?

The third entry in our server roundup is the 6th-generation ProLiant ML350. Available as a stand-alone tower or 5U rack server (with appropriate rack kit), the ML350 was the lowest-cost server in our group without sacrificing any features or capabilities. Like the other two servers, the ProLiant can grow to hold up to 8TB of online disk storage. It can also handle up to 196GB of DDR3 RDIMM -- the most in our group. HP's iLO2 (integrated Lights Out) remote management controller takes care of remote management.

The inside of the ProLiant is a study in simplicity. A single, clear air baffle covers the RAM and most of the massive heat-tubed CPU heat sinks. Two pairs of 90mm fans -- a pair at the rear and a pair in front of the baffle -- handle cooling chores, pulling air through the chassis front to rear. The ProLiant's fans are not hot-swappable, but they are much quieter than their Fujitsu counterparts.

Like the Fujitsu, the ML350 comes with an internal USB port for bare-metal booting. There are two USB ports on the front and two on the rear of the chassis, and one additional internal USB tape connector, for a total of six USB ports, the fewest in our group. The ProLiant motherboard has six PCIe slots; an optional configuration adds two PCI-X slots.

HP provides three power supply options for the ML350 chassis. Depending on hardware needs, you can choose from 460-, 750-, and 1,200-watt power supplies in single and redundant configurations. I was very pleased with how little noise came from the HP server, even while under load. There were times that the fans would spin up more than usual, but even then I wasn't subjected to the sound of jet engines. I could easily place this server in a common work area and not be bothered by the noise.

The ML350's power consumption was second best overall. It recorded the best score of the bunch when powered off (7.8 watts vs. Dell's 14.5 watts and Fujitsu's 15.7 watts), a dubious distinction considering that no one buys a server to plug it in and not turn it on. When running, the ML350 consumed 156.4 watts at idle and 322.3 watts with the dual Xeons maxed out, about 44 watts better than the Fujitsu but 59 watts worse than the Dell.

Like the Dell PowerEdge T610 and the Fujitsu Primergy TX300, the ProLiant can handle up to 8TB of online disk space. This chassis will accommodate as many as sixteen 2.5-inch SFF or eight 3.5-inch LFF drives, twice as many SFF as the PowerEdge but four fewer than the Primergy. The ML350 uses a SAS RAID controller interface for its drives and can connect with both SAS and SATA drives. My test unit came with three 146GB 10K RPM SAS drives in RAID 5.

Like the Dell and Fujitsu servers, the ML350 comes standard with two Gigabit Ethernet ports. HP uses the Intel 82575EB chip set for its integrated network connectivity, and optional Gigabit and 10 Gigabit PCIe adapters are available.

HP has been in the remote management business for quite some time. Its iLO (Integrated Lights-Out) feature provides secure remote access to a ProLiant server regardless of where it is located. iLO allows admins to power the server up or down, interact with the server prior to system boot-up, and access HP's new Power Regulator power management tools. With an additional license, admins can upgrade to iLO Advanced and gain the ability to install, configure, update, and troubleshoot ProLiant servers using a standard Web browser.

One of the best features of iLO Advanced is its support for virtual media. This allows admins to access files and folders on their remote desktops from the ProLiant prior to boot-up. They can update drivers and firmware on the ProLiant from their remote PC without having to physically install media in the server -- very cool.

Bottom line: Like the Dell and Fujitsu servers, the HP ProLiant blazed through the performance testing. The HP server was the low price leader in this roundup but still offered a substantial number of drive bays and USB ports, and it supports a ridiculous amount of RAM. Power consumption lagged the Dell but beat the Fujitsu. The ProLiant is also quiet, if not as quiet as the Dell, and it comes with excellent remote management.

Read more reviews at Computerworld.

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Tags HPserversDellFujitsunehalemreviews

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