Boston Value Series 115T - The Highest Scalability and the Lowest Possible Power

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The first AMD Opteron 3300 pedestal server to market delivers a high core count for the price - and fast storage, too

AMD might not be a particularly popular choice with the blue-chip vendors, but Boston has always been a keen proponent of its Opteron chips. In this exclusive review, we bring you a first look at AMD’s new Opteron 3300 Series processor in Boston’s Value Series 115T pedestal server.

Based on AMD’s “Piledriver” core, the three-strong Opteron 3300 family clearly has Intel’s Ivy Bridge Xeon E3s in its sights, and all three CPUs tout impressively low power draws. The quad-core 1.9GHz Opteron 3320 EE has a minuscule 25W TDP; the quad-core 2.8 GHz Opteron 3350 HE occupies the mid-range with a TDP of 45W; and the eight-core 2.6GHz Opteron 3380 - with which Boston has equipped its 115T has a 65W TDP. All the chips have an 8MB L3 cache and fit AMD’s AM3+ socket, so if you already have an Opteron 3200 system, you can use these as drop-in upgrades.

Boston Value Series 115T - The Highest Scalability and the Lowest Possible Power

Boston Value Series 115T - The Highest Scalability and the Lowest Possible Power

On paper, the AMD Opteron 3380 matches Intel’s Xeon E3 v2s in the power department – all Intel’s quad-core variants have TDPs ranging from 45W to 87W. In our power tests, the 115T acquitted itself well, drawing only 56W with Windows Server 2012 in idle, and 108W under heavy load from the SiSoft Sandra benchmarking app.

The peak figures are higher than those of Supermicro’s RTG RX-M140i (web ID: 378466) -featuring a 3.3GHz Xeon E3-1230 v2, it peaked at only 80W under heavy load - but this isn’t a like-for-like comparison. When you consider that the 115T offers double the number of physical cores and twice the RAM, and has two hard disks rather than one, it doesn’t look so greedy.

The price includes a generous 16GB of unbuffered 1,600MHz DDR3 memory, too, and the four RAM slots support a maximum of 32GB (see 1). Boston has supplied a pair of 8GB DIMMs, so you can go right to the max without having to replace them.

In terms of dimensions, the 115T is a compact pedestal server that will sit comfortably on the desktop (or under it). For physical security, you can padlock the side panel shut, or use the chassis’ Kensington lock.

The internal design is tidy. Cooling is handled by an 80mm fan at the rear (see 2) and an active heatsink on the CPU, and, while we noticed the chassis fan speeding up on occasion, noise wasn’t an issue: this server is extremely quiet, and well suited to a small office.

The 115T is well endowed in the storage department. The Supermicro H8SML-7F motherboard sports a 6Gbits/sec LSI 2308 SAS2 controller, which q the Value provides eight available USB port for ports next to the removable four-bay disk cage (see 3). The cage can be released and swung round for access, and each drive is mounted in lightweight plastic sleds. The price includes a pair of 3 Gbits/sec 1TB WD Enterprise SATA II hard disks. If anything is lacking, it’s that the LSI chip’s RAID support extends to only mirrors and stripes.

The Value Series 115T has an internal USB port for booting into a hypervisor

The Value Series 115T has an internal USB port for booting into a hypervisor

The AMD SP5100 chip offers a further six SATA II ports and support for RAID mirrors and stripes - but, disappointingly, you can’t use them on this server: the ports are side-mounted at the bottom of the motherboard, and access is blocked by the base of the chassis. An embedded power connector is also provided for a SATA DOM, but since it’s right next to the obstructed SATA ports, it too goes wasted.

The 115T redeems itself elsewhere. It’s capable of functioning as a virtualization test platform, since it has an internal USB port for booting into a hypervisor, and the motherboard provides Supermicro’s embedded IPMI controller and dedicated network port for remote management. Compared with the likes of HP’s iL04, the web console is basic, but it isn’t ineffective: it displays data from the motherboard’s sensors, and can issue SNMP traps and email alerts if preset thresholds are breached.

Full control over power is provided, too, so you can remotely power the server off and on, reset it, and gracefully power it down. You also get full remote control and virtual media services included as standard - features vendors such as HP offer only as an optional upgrade.

With so few server manufacturers embracing the Opteron 3300 CPUs, it’s impossible to make a direct comparison with the Value Series 115T. What we can say, however, is that it stacks up well against the Xeon E3-equipped Dell PowerEdge T110 II (web ID: 369607). The 115T costs a similar sum but offers double the CPU core count, a fast SAS2-embedded disk controller, and superior remote management features.

All in all, this pedestal server should definitely make your shortlist.

Key Specs

·         Pedestal chassis

·         Supermicro H8SML-7F motherboard

·         2.6GHz AMD Opteron 3380

·         16GB 1,600MHz DDR3 (max 32GB)

·         LSI 2308 SAS2 8-port controller

·         supports RAIDO, 1,10

·         2 x 1TB WD Enterprise SATA II cold-swap hard disks (max 4)

·         2 x Gigabit Ethernet

·         2 x PCI-E

·         IPMI with 10/100 port

·         290W cabled PSU

·         3yr on-site N BD warranty

·         Power: 56W idle; 108W peak


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