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Fujitsu Primergy BX900S1 Dynamic Cube - blade server review

Fujitsu ups the ante in the blade server market with its new Dynamic Cube. Is resistance futile?

The processor sockets are located behind and staggered to improve cooling. Note that as the drive bays take up a fair amount of internal space, CPU0 has six DIMM sockets but CPU1 only has three. However, the BX922S1 blade will dispense with local hard disks and up the DIMM slot count to 12.

All the new blades have an embedded USB interface for booting into an embedded hypervisor and Fujitsu advised us that both ESXi and Hyper-V are supported. Network connections look good as the blades sport pairs of dual-port Gigabit adapters and support two mezzanine cards.

Fujitsu offers quad-port Gigabit, 10GbE and Emulex dual-port 8Gbps fibre mezzanine cards. A smart feature is they connect directly into the chassis fabric and unlike the competition, the extra interfaces don't have to be routed through the server blade motherboard, which reduces the length of the physical path to improve performance.

The chassis also accepts up to six of SX940 SAS/SATA storage blades. Installed in specific bays, their storage can be shared by server blades on either side or just one. Four hot-swap drive bays are provided and a unique feature is internal support for two standard PCI-e RAID cards. There's also an LTO-4 tape blade and its server connection is determined by which PCI-e slot has the HBA installed in.

For management features, Fujitsu moves up alongside HP as the BX900S1 chassis has flip-out Local Service Panel, which is very similar to HP's Insight Control Panel. It provides a handy status screen showing which chassis slots are populated and its background colour will change to denote hardware warnings or faults.

Two more slots are provided at the rear for the new management blades. These have integrated switches that connect directly to the chassis mid-plane for out-of-band access. They provide web access and the ServerView interface offers plenty of information where its home page opens with a complete overview of the chassis.

A bar chart shows current power usage across the entire chassis and power management extends to chassis power capping, which allows you to set a finite limit on maximum consumption. If this threshold is reached the chassis will apply minimum power settings across all server blades where their CPUs will be throttled back to reduce consumption.

Selecting a server blade from the ServerView interface displays a complete rundown of its hardware and provides access to event logs, server power management and basic configuration. The blade's iRMC controller can be accessed directly where you can load up its web interface and view the status of critical components and select video redirection for full remote control.

The Primergy BX900S1 in an impressive blade server with a higher server density than HP's c7000 and generally more sophisticated than IBM's elderly BladeCenter H.

Value is good and its build quality, high expansion potential and quality power management features all set a high standard for the rest to follow.

Verdict

Fujitsu’s latest blade server delivers a very high server density and plenty of innovative features. Expansion potential is extremely good, remote management and monitoring are amongst the best and there’s a lot more yet to come.

Chassis: 10U enclosure with eighteen half-height/nine full-height blade slots

Power: 3 x 2800W hot-swap supplies (max. 6)

Fans: 2 x pluggable dual fan modules per power supply

Expansion: Eight interconnect I/O module bays – two per fabric

Network: 1 x 36/12 Gigabit Ethernet switch blade

Management blades: 1 x MMB with 10/100 and 2 x Gigabit (max.2)

Management: Local Service Panel, Fujitsu ServerView Suite

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