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Reviews

IBM System x3350

The x3350 offers a cost effective alternative to dual socket 1U rack servers and remote management gets a big boost with IBM’s new Systems Director.

Price
£2,800

IBM's latest single socket rack server has a keen focus on power-strapped data centres as it's designed to be more efficient and greener than standard dual socket servers. The new mantra for IBM is RAS (reliability, availability and serviceability) and despite only being a low-profile 1U system, the x3350 aims to satisfy all these criteria.

There may be plenty of hype surrounding server virtualization but the x3350 is designed for environments that don't require this or have applications that don't support it. It's also aimed at serving up dedicated applications such as web and mail services or for deployment in branch offices. IBM's thinking here is that by offering a server with a single, high performance dual- or quad-core Xeon you can do away with the need for a traditional dual-socket server and the extra costs it entails.

The chassis is up to the typically high standard of build quality we expect from IBM. It's paid particular attention to cooling as the system's internal workings have been redesigned to improve air-flow and the end result is the chassis only uses four small dual-rotor fans to reduce power consumption and noise. They're all hot-swappable and chassis' lid has a couple of flaps enabling the fans to be easily extracted.

Despite its low profile the x3350 supports a good range of storage options. For the lowest cost you can start with a basic 3.5in cold-swap dual drive bay and connect the drives directly to the pair of SATA ports on the motherboard. If you want SATA RAID then add the optional LSI-based mini-PCI controller, which offers support for mirrors and stripes.

The review system came kitted out with the full monty as it had the four drive SFF hard disk bay filled with a quartet of 2.5in 73GB IBM SAS drives. It also had the mini-PCI card installed, but this lies idle, as the price includes IBM's ServeRAID SAS/SATA PCI-e card. This occupies one of the x8 PCI-e slots at the rear and delivers support for RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 50, 6 and 60 arrays - and also accepts an optional battery backup unit.

The price includes a 3GHz X3370 Xeon module, which uses the latest 45nm manufacturing process, sports a pair of 6MB L2 caches and has a reasonable TDP of 95W. This sits near the front of the motherboard as close to the fans as possible and is mounted by a chunky copper heatsink. Alongside are four DIMM sockets with two occupied by 1GB 800MHz DDR2 modules and maximum capacity is 8GB.

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