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Systemax Mission 8102 review

Verdict

Once again Supermicro is the first to showcase Intel's new processors and chipsets, delivered in a well-designed and built Systemax rack server with plenty of expansion options.

Review Date: 21 Sep 2004

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: (exc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Whereas many server vendors seem content to follow the example of others, Supermicro has always been at the forefront of design. Long-time supporter Systemax received a well-deserved Recommended award recently for its Mission 6502, which took the established view of Itanium 2 rack servers and turned it upside down. Not only was it the world's first 1U rack variant, it was offered at a price few other vendors could match let alone beat. Systemax does it again with the Mission 8102, as this introduces one of the first commercially available server platforms equipped with Intel's latest 'Nocona' Xeon processors and the new 'Lindenhurst' E7520 chipset. This processor and chipset partnership delivers a wealth of new features and we take an in-depth look at these below.

The 8102 is a slimline 1U rack server that comprises a fine partnership of Supermicro's SC813 chassis and X6DHR-8G motherboard. A quartet of hot-swap bays is provided at the front with three occupied by 33.6GB Fujitsu Ultra320 hard disks mounted in sturdy hot-swap carriers. Floppy and 24-speed low-profile CD-ROM drives are squeezed in above and accompany a simple panel with LEDs for network and hard-disk activity, plus power status.

The motherboard sports a pair of 3.4GHz Xeon processors, each topped off with a large passive copper heatsink to deal with the extra heat generated. Mounted behind these is a pair of large blower fans that deal efficiently with cooling and are noticeably quieter than previous Supermicro efforts. Further back is a bank of eight DIMM sockets that support up to 16GB of standard DDR SDRAM memory. Supermicro currently has a number of motherboard options integrating the E7250 chipset, so it pays to make sure you select the correct version. If you want support for DDR2 memory, you'll need the X6DHR-8G2 variant - the G2 designation indicates support for the new memory.

Another choice comes in the expansion slot department. The review system offers a pair of 133MHz PCI-X slots and a butterfly riser card that converts them to support a full-length 64-bit, 133MHz card on one side and a 64-bit, 66MHz low-profile card on the other. For PCI Express support, you'll need a different riser card that utilises only the left-hand side to provide an 8x PCI Express slot. There's a 4x slot on the right-hand side of the review sample but we were told this will be omitted in later versions.

Network options are up with the best as you get a pair of Intel PRO/1000 gigabit Ethernet adaptor chipsets that support VLANs, fault-tolerant teams or load-balanced links. SCSI services are also particularly well endowed via an embedded dual-channel Adaptec AIC-7902 Ultra320 controller. One channel has been sensibly hard-wired to the rear panel for adding external devices. However, the price includes a credit card-sized Adaptec ASR-2015S Ultra320 zero-channel RAID controller that slots neatly into an SODIMM socket on the motherboard and takes over both SCSI channels.

Remote server management is another territory where Supermicro isn't afraid to tread first. The second SODIMM socket near the RAID card is ready to accept an IPMI 2-compliant BMC (baseboard management controller) card when it becomes available. The previous specification introduced network support with 'IPMI over LAN', along with improved hardware monitoring. IPMI 2 adds enhanced network security with authentication, encryption, VLAN support and a firmware firewall. Other new features include improved network discovery tools and the new 'Serial over LAN' capability that provides serial redirection and support for multiple serial connections to the same port. Supermicro's IPMI View utility will be used to access this information remotely and provides readouts on temperatures, fan speeds and voltages. Controls are provided for recycling power and performing graceful server shutdowns or reboots, plus remotely accessing and controlling the chassis' Power and Reset buttons.

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