System x gets Xeon E3

IBM has launched a pair of new small business servers, both single socket and designed to be powered by the latest Intel Xeon E3-1200 (Sandy Bridge) processors. The new CPUs offer a claimed 30 percent performance uplift over previous generation models.

IBM has launched a pair of new small business servers, both single socket and designed to be powered by the latest Intel Xeon E3-1200 (Sandy Bridge) processors. The new CPUs offer a claimed 30 percent performance uplift over previous generation models.

One of the servers is a tower — the System x3100 M4, starting at just £430 (ex. VAT). The other is a compact rack-mount system — the System x3250 M4, which costs from £975 (ex. VAT).

Clearly aimed at first-time server buyers and SME customers looking to upgrade, the new IBM servers are similar to those introduced by Dell, HP and Lenovo earlier in the year.

The specifications are pretty similar with a choice of several quad-core E3-1200 chips, including low-power implementations, supported by up to 32GB of ECC-protected DDR3 memory in four DIMM slots. For those on a budget, a dual-core Core i3 processor can also be specified with the same Intel C202 chipset employed on both, plus controllers for six USB ports (two at the front, four at the back) and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Lack of space inevitably means differences in terms of storage. On the tower, there are four 3.5in. bays to take standard SATA disks, giving a maximum capacity of 12TB. Software RAID (0,1) comes as standard, and you can add optional hardware RAID controllers — but with no hot-swap support.

The 1U System x3250 M4 can only accommodate two 3.5in. SATA disks — again, without hot-swap support — and there's no 2.5in. option. Specify SAS instead, and the rack unit can be fitted with four 2.5in. drives with hot-swap capabilities if required — albeit with a ceiling of 2.4TB using 600GB SAS drives from IBM.

Software RAID (0,1) again comes as standard, with optional adapters for more advanced RAID configurations, just as on the tower.

The 1U rack server has just two PCI Express slots for further expansion, while the tower has four. Both models are equipped with a single power supply and come with the IBM Integrated Management Module (IMM) as standard.

The usual warranties apply and we've been promised samples for a full review as soon as they're available.

Alan Stevens

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