Boston Value Series 380 G8 review
Boston’s first Xeon E5 server provides fine hardware at a very reasonable price, and is well suited to duties as a high-capacity storage server
Review Date: 7 Mar 2012
Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell
Price when reviewed: £4,149 (£4,979 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Supermicro has always been quick to support the latest technology from Intel, so it’s no surprise it was one of the first to rush through our doors with a Xeon E5 system. Supplied exclusively by Boston, the Value Series (VS) 380 G8 aims to combine the power of the processors with high memory and storage capacity.
It’s clear from the spec that Boston is targeting this directly against HP’s eighth-generation ProLiant DL380. However, we can’t yet compare as the latter won’t be available until April at the earliest.
Built around a Supermicro X9DRi-LN4F+ motherboard, the VS 380 G8 supports all Xeon E5-2600 series processors, and the price includes a pair of 2.6GHz E5-2670 Xeons. These eight-core modules are in the upper levels of the Xeon E5 family and have a 20MB L3 cache, run at the maximum QPI speed of 8GT/sec and support both Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost.
The motherboard has 24 DIMM sockets and supports up to 768GB. The system on review includes 32GB of memory spread across eight 4GB DIMMs, and Boston offers a choice of standard 1.5V and low-voltage 1.35V DIMMs.
The solidly built 2U chassis hits the spot for storage features, with a front panel that has room for up to 12 LFF hard disks in hot-swap carriers. The motherboard’s embedded controller provides two SATA III and four SATA II onboard interfaces, and supports mirrors, stripes and RAID5 in Windows; the Boston, however, doesn’t make use of it, using a Supermicro SAS SMC2108 RAID PCI Express card instead.
It has also fitted a SAS 2/SATA III backplane: combining its SAS expanders with the RAID card brings all 12 drive bays into play, adding RAID6 and 60 to the possibilities. For our review sample, Boston focused on price and storage capacity rather than performance, so the server came with four 1TB Western Digital RE4 Enterprise SATA II drives.
Internal design is good, with plenty of access. The processors and memory sockets are covered by a plastic shroud, and all cooling is managed by three hotplug fans behind the disk backplane, which don’t generate much noise.
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