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A server is a specialised machine — but it is also based on PC technology. So, what defines a server and separates it from the familiar personal-computing technology that lives either on your desk or your lap? And what is missing from the mix?
Generally speaking, a core philosophy behind server design is the notion that the machine must continue to provide a service even if an individual hardware component fails. Servers also deliver files and process information for multiple users simultaneously, so they need to be computing powerhouses.
All this data needs to get to and from users as fast as possible, so expect lots of high-speed network ports. And because they are not machines you sit in front of all day, they need to be remotely manageable.
Finally, there is one other characteristic that servers have all possessed up until now — but that may be starting to change. (More on this later.) Here then are the most important hardware attributes a server must possess if it is to fit the bill — and at the end, we have added are some items you should not expect to see.
Crucial attribute 1: Processors
At the heart of the server is the processor — or, more usually, these days, at least a pair of processors. If a server is doing anything more than just file-serving, then computing power is likely to be in demand. So this Dell T710 houses a pair of brand-new Intel Core i7 Xeon processors, using 45nm processor microarchitecture — code-named Nehalem.