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Cad 2 Focus Server 5015M-MT+B

Step 7: Cad 2 Focus Server 5015M-MT+B
Price
£1,745
  • Core 2 Extreme processor, compact dimensions, 4GB of memory, high levels of storage.
  • Could be a lot quieter, basic expansion options, flimsy processor cooling shroud, no SAS support.

Now here's something unusual as instead of going with the flow, Cad 2 opted to supply a server equipped with Intel's latest Core 2 Extreme processor. Going under the codename of Kentsfield, this is effectively a pair of Core 2 Duo E6700 processors sandwiched together in a single package.

Considering Intel has aimed this processor at the desktop, multimedia and gaming market it initially seems strange to put it in a server. However, where price is a key factor, Intel's desktop processors have often proven to be a better choice as they can offer a reasonable amount of power at a lower price. We've seen this with the Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors with many vendors offering low cost single socket servers and so it is with the Core 2 Extreme.

Size is also a factor as measuring a mere 51cms deep, the Supermicro chassis is the smallest one here. The one area where Cad 2 could have capitalized but failed to do so is with cooling. These processors are designed to have a low heat output and yet this server is unnecessarily noisy. The fan assembly in front of the processor has had two modules removed but the remaining three still generate a surprising amount of noise. We weren't impressed with the cooling shroud on the processor either as it is flimsy and difficult to replace once removed.

Nevertheless, the hardware menu looks appetizing as along with four physical processor cores you get a hefty 4GB of DDR2 memory. Storage looks good as well with the front panel home to a triplet of 74GB SATA/3Gbps drives in hot-swap carriers and room for a fourth. The Supermicro motherboard employs an embedded Intel SATA controller which delivers plenty of RAID options.

Remote management is comparatively basic and includes the SuperO Doctor III utility and its web browser interface which does provide plenty of operational information on all critical system components along with simple alerting facilities. The price also includes Supermicro's IPMI 2.0 controller card which fits in a proprietary slot on the motherboard. The bundled IPMI View utility accesses the card remotely and provides readouts on temperatures, fan speeds and voltages plus controls for recycling power and performing graceful server shutdowns. However, note that the card does not support remote web browser access or any KVM over IP functions.

The Focus Server shows yet again that Supermicro isn't afraid to try something different and the end result is a low profile rack server with a lot of processing power for a low price.

Verdict

Limited expansion and only SATA support but still a low cost and very compact rack server offering quad processing cores and plenty of memory for the price.

Motherboard - Supermicro PDSMI+
CPU - 2.66GHz Intel QX6700
Chipset - Intel E3000
Memory - 4GB 667MHz DDR2 expandable to 8GB
Storage controller - Intel ICH7R SATA 4-port
Disk interface - SATA
Disk drives - 3 x 74GB Western Digital WD740 SATA
RAID controller - embedded on Intel chip
Expansion slots - 1 x PCI-X
Network Ports - 2 x Intel Gigabit
Power - 300W fixed
Management software - Supermicro SuperO Doctor III, IPMI View
Other - IPMI 2.0 card
Warranty - 3 yrs on-site.

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