Read Product Review CyberServe X34-104L

The first Xeon 3400 rack server to support SFF hard disks, and it's compact, quiet and power-efficient

Dave Mitchell 29 March 2010  |  

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Broadberry has been aggressively pitching its rack servers recently, with Dell its main target. Its latest CyberServe rack server continues its battle plan, but it now expands this to encompass HP as well. The X34-104L delivers Intel's new Xeon 3400 Series, but scores over both Dell and HP since neither of these vendors has a rack offering with this processor that also supports hot-swap SFF hard disks.

The X34-104L uses Supermicro's new SC111LT chassis, which provides a quartet of hot-swap SFF drive bays and, at just under 22in deep, will fit in a wide range of rack cabinets. There isn't much else to see at the front, since the centre of the main panel is set aside as a grille for improved airflow.

Power and recessed reset buttons are accompanied by a simple status display. This provides LEDs for hard disk and network activity for both ports, along with power status and a universal information LED to warn of fan and power failures or overheating.

Broadberry has focused on lowering power consumption: along with the reduced requirements of SFF drives, this server is the first we've seen to sport the new 1.86GHz L3426 processor. With a low TDP of 45W, it's considerably more frugal than its 95W counterparts.

The server made an impression in our power tests, drawing just 44W with Windows Server 2008 idling along. Curiously, this idle reading was higher than Dell's R210 and Broadberry's own X34-RS100, which both had higher-wattage 3400 processors when we tested them.

However, the results of the test became clearer when we set SiSoft Sandra to work, as with it pushing all eight logical cores to the maximum, consumption peaked at only 83W. In the same test, the R210 and its 2.4GHz X3430 peaked at 108W, while the X34-RS100 and 2.53GHz X3440 combo scored a high of 122W.

The server's Supermicro X8SIE-F motherboard offers plenty of features. It sports Intel's higher-end 3420 chipset, which provides six SATA interfaces and has an integrated RAID controller.

The processor is located in the centre of the motherboard and the six DIMM sockets to one side support up to 16GB of UDIMM or 32GB of RDIMM memory. We didn't think much of the cooling shroud, as Supermicro insists on using flimsy plastic covers. This is made worse by the fact that it's integrated with the mounting bracket for the three small cooling fans, so you have to remove the lot if you want to upgrade memory or change a fan.

The server included a pair of 250GB Seagate Momentus SATA drives configured as a mirror. If you want higher performance then we suggest Supermicro's X8SI6-F motherboard. Expansion options include a riser card with a PCI Express 2 x16 slot, which can handle a full-height, full-length card. There are two USB ports at the rear, and the motherboard has two internal ones.

Full remote management comes as standard, with the integrated controller providing a dedicated port and web browser access. The latter has seen a number of design tweaks making it easier to use. It offers plenty of data about all motherboard sensors plus options to issue SNMP traps and email alerts if preset thresholds are breached.

Along with full control over power, remote control is also provided, so you can access the BIOS setup menu and OS via a browser. It supports virtual floppy and optical drive media, allowing you to boot the server from another system and install an OS if required.

For general remote and local server monitoring, the SuperO Doctor III utility provides plenty of operational information on all critical system components. Basic remote control facilities are also provided.

The bundled Intel Matrix Storage Manager provides local management access to the RAID controller where you can view the status of arrays and member drives, remove arrays and create new ones. It also drops an icon into the System Tray, where pop-up messages advise on any array issues.

Broadberry scores a notable first over Dell, HP and IBM by bringing support for SFF hard disks to Intel's low-power Xeon 3400 platform. There's room for only four disks, but the CyberServe X34-104L offers a good overall specification for the price, has a low power demand and doesn't skimp on remote management tools.

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