- ✓Seven PCI Express expansion slots
- ✓Neat internal layout with clear labelling
- ✓Accommodates twelve 2.5in. or six 3.5in. disks
- ✕Lack of market presence
- ✕Only two Gigabit Ethernet ports
An established and respected vendor of industry-standard servers, Fujitsu is the first to admit that it's down among the also-rans in terms of market share. That said, the company has ambitious plans to raise its game over the next couple of years, with Primergy its flagship brand and Intel's Xeon 5500 processor a key enabling technology.
Like the leading vendors, Fujitsu has introduced Xeon 5500 products across its entire range of tower, rack and blade servers. Although the company offers both 1U and 2U rack servers, we've concentrated on the Primergy RX300 S5, a brand-new 2U design with two sockets for the Nehalem-architecture chips.
Fujitsu's Primergy RX300 S5 offers good build quality and a neat internal layout, although the fans are a bit noisy.
Build quality is high, and the internal layout very neat with minimal cabling, lots of clear labelling and subtle colour coding to direct you to the right bits when attention is needed. At the front there's the increasingly common pull-out identity tag, plus a choice of two pop-out status displays depending on how much information you want to see. It's not as 'stylish' as the Dell PowerEdge R710, for example, but it's workmanlike and available with custom racking or adapters to fit industry-standard shelves.
Power is supplied via a couple of highly efficient hot-plug units with two rows of hot-plug fans to provide the cooling. The fans slot in and out very easily, and sensor-controlled management helps to minimise the acoustic load while keeping the temperature within bounds. We still found them rather noisy though.
The processors live beneath the usual huge heatsinks and supporting plastic baffling in the middle of the motherboard. There are 18 DIMM slots for RAM, arranged in sets of nine on either side. Populated with 8GB DIMMs that means 144GB in total, matching the best of what the competition has to offer, with similar memory sparing and mirroring options if required.
For storage the RX300 S5 accommodates either twelve 2.5in. drive bays or a six-drive cage to take 3.5in. disks. Alternatively you can specify eight 2.5in. disks, leaving room for an internal backup drive. Like all server vendors, Fujitsu offers a choice of SATA and SAS disks with capacities and spin speeds to suit, plus a couple of (limited capacity) SSDs.
A basic LSI MegaRAID controller is supplied as standard with optional battery-backed cache and a choice of other adapters with more RAID options if preferred. Networking is handled by a pair of Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Managed by an Intel controller with TCP offload capabilities, the Intel silicon also supports VMDq (Virtual Machine Device Queues) to similarly offload network I/O management from virtual machine hypervisors.
The RX300 S5 can be equipped with an impressive seven PCI Express slots for further expansion — one more than HP's ProLiant DL380 G6 and the Sun Fire X4275 — with a number of Ethernet and Fibre Channel HBAs on the Fujitsu pricelist as optional extras.
An internal USB socket is provided for customers wanting to boot directly into a bare-metal hypervisor. Tucked away alongside the power supplies in the bowels of the chassis, this is designed to take a USB key containing the VMware ESXi hypervisor, which is available as a Fujitsu part. Alternatively you can plug in a key of your own — the RX300 S5 certified for use with all the leading platforms, including Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer, as well as VMware.
Basic character-based remote access is available via the integrated Remote Management Controller (iRMC S2), which has its own dedicated Fast Ethernet interface. However, this doesn't give you a lot more than a simple screen and keyboard, so most customers will want to add the Advanced Pack option to get additional features such as a browser-based graphical remote console and support for virtual media.
The RX300 S5 also comes with Fujitsu's own SNMP-based management application, ServerView. This is less functional than some, but lets you discover and monitor servers over the network, configure storage and other options and apply updates remotely. Other vendors' servers can also be managed using ServerView, with plug-ins similarly available to manage the RX300 S5 and other Fujitsu servers from alternative management platforms.
Finally, it's worth noting that you can't buy servers direct from Fujitsu. Instead, the company sells exclusively through resellers and system integrators, although it does have its own maintenance engineers. It also equips resellers with sophisticated tools to help specify servers and other Fujitsu products and help with the complex power and cooling calculations required to properly implement rack and blade systems in large datacentres.