Fujitsu Primergy RX100 S7 Review

Summary: This is a well-built 1U server which, if correctly specified with the latest Xeon E3-1200 processor and other options, will have no problem living up to its positioning as an entry-level virtualisation platform.

  • Editors' rating:
    9.0
  • User rating:
    0.0
  • RRP:
    GBP £2,876.00

Pros

  • Supports Intel Xeon E3-1200 processors
  • Redundant power
  • Hot-swap storage
  • Integrated remote management

Cons

  • Limited internal storage
  • Pricey

Hot on the heels of HP and Dell, Fujitsu has introduced a new server to its rack-mount lineup, the 1U Primergy RX100 S7, capable of accommodating Intel's latest Xeon E3-1200 (Sandy Bridge) processor technology. Unlike the competition, however, Fujitsu is opting to position the RX100 S7 as an entry-level virtualisation host rather than purely a standalone application platform.

Fujitsu's 1U Primergy RX100 S7 can be used for traditional file, print and web server duties, or as an entry-level virtualisation platform

There's nothing particularly radical about the idea of using a single-socket 1U server for virtualisation. Many companies do already, and the server Fujitsu provided for our tests had no problem running multiple virtual workloads using either VMware or Microsoft hypervisors. However, scalability is limited by the format, and if that's the aim then care is needed when specifying what goes inside.

The build quality on the new Primergy is as good as anything from HP or Dell, including an all-metal chassis equipped with an identification LED plus a simple set of clearly marked controls at the front and a lift-off lid for easy access. Inside it's very well laid out and spacious, even with dual 450-watt power supplies fitted — an unusual option on a 1U server, but one that's well worth having. It's also a fairly short chassis, so it can be fitted into smaller wall and floor-mount cabinets.

The Primergy RX100 S7 features dual 450W power supplies and a bank of up to five fans in the middle of the chassis

As well as the fans in the power supplies there's a further bank in the middle of the chassis — five if you opt for redundant power. On the face of it, this seems excessive. However, these fans work really well, and with built-in thermal monitoring and power-capping capabilities the RX100 S7 turned out to be one of the quietest 1U servers we've tested.

By far the biggest limitation in terms of scalability has to be the single processor socket on the motherboard. But even that's not the big issue it once was, as this socket can take a variety of processors — including most of the dual-core Intel Core i3 family plus the latest Xeon E3-1200 chips in a variety of dual- and quad-core formats.

Our review unit came with the quad-core Xeon E3-1240 on board, clocked at 3.3GHz and equipped with four cores delivering eight processing threads. With both VMware and Microsoft hypervisors this is seen as eight separate processors, making it good choice for virtualisation duties and other computation-intensive applications, although slightly faster implementations are available if needed.

The Xeon processor has to be the choice for virtualisation, but it does have a fairly demanding power requirement: the E3-1240 is rated at 85W, while the faster E3-1280 draws up to 95W. For buyers prepared to sacrifice performance for energy savings, 45W and even 20W versions are also available — just make sure you choose the right processor to begin with as changing later can be expensive.

Memory is located in the four DIMM slots next to the processor, Fujitsu providing us with a decent 16GB of ECC protected DDR3 RAM for our evaluation. This can be upgraded to 32GB, which is fair enough on a single-socket server — and double what can be put in HP's 1U equivalent (the ProLiant DL120 G7) — but it does limit the number of virtual machines the server can host.

On the storage front, you can order the RX100 S7 with either two 3.5in. or four 2.5in. disk bays, both front-mounted and available with or without hot-swap support. Ours came with the hot-swap 2.5in. bays filled with 146GB SAS disks spinning at 15,000rpm, also from Fujitsu. Again, that's not a bad setup for an entry-level virtualisation platform, but other capacities are available, along with SATA and solid state disks if preferred.

An on-board controller with limited RAID support is available to handle SATA storage, but most buyers will go for an add-in controller. Several can be specified here: our review unit came with a Fujitsu-badged LSI MegaRAID card enabling the four SAS disks to be configured as a redundant RAID 5 array with an online hot spare. This is exactly the kind of setup required to support virtual machines in a production environment.

The RAID adapter took up one of the PCI-Express expansion slots, but that's not a problem as two other slots are available. Which is just as well, because the RX100 S7 is severely limited when it comes to internal storage; if it's used for virtualisation, customers may want to connect to external storage using a Fibre Channel SAN adapter or add additional Ethernet cards for iSCSI connectivity.

Remote management is via the integrated iRMC S3 controller: shown here is the server's power consumption history

Standard networking is handled by a pair of built-in Gigabit interfaces, with a third network connection for out-of-band remote management. The latter is facilitated by an integrated iRMC S3 controller, which proves more than a match for similar offerings on HP and Dell servers. Our review unit shipped with the optional upgrade pack to support a graphical remote console via a browser, complete with remote media capabilities.

Our review unit had an optional upgrade pack for the iRMC S3 controller to enable management via browser-based graphical remote console

In our tests the Primergy RX100 S7 performed well and in specification terms is well matched both against its main competitor, the Dell PowerEdge R210 II, and HP's ProLiant DL120 G7 which, with a bigger chassis, has more internal disk space than the others. If it's a virtualisation platform you're after, however, it's either the Fujitsu or the Dell, with the Primergy RX100 S7 possibly just ticking a few more sweet spots (more memory and more expansion slots) if virtualisation is the aim. The only real issue is the price, although you'll find vendors selling this Fujitsu server for a lot less than the official price quoted here.

Topics: Servers, Reviews

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