Boston Igloo B2200 review

£22892700
Price when reviewed

To test AMD’s new Barcelona processor, Boston supplied us with its new rack-mount server system based around a Supermicro A+ Server 2021M-UR 2U rack chassis.

It supports up to two Socket F CPUs and its 16 RAM sockets will hold a maximum complement of 64GB of DDR2 ECC SDRAM; 400-667MHz is supported.

With eight hot-swap 3.5in SAS/SATA drive bays and dual 700W hot-swap redundant power supplies, it’s a well-specified beast.

The internals are straightforward, though, and both getting into the chassis and upgrading components is simple. There are no tricky plastic ducts to worry about: depressing two catches on the top of the casing allows the top to slide easily away and off without tools.

It’s an ideal design for upgrading, too, since all that’s needed to take off the CPU heatsinks is the removal of two screws: there are no terrifying spring-loaded catches ready to swipe unwary capacitors clean off the board, and no force is needed to replace the processors.

The chassis has three PCI Express full-height, full-length slots via a vertical riser card, on the other side of which are single 8x and 4x low-profile slots. On top of that there’s an empty area at the rear left of the case to accommodate Supermicro’s own UIO expansion system, which gives options ranging from RAID to 10Gb Ethernet (dual Gigabit Ethernet is integrated into the motherboard).

IPMI 2 is supported but not included as standard, with an empty slot for a remote-management module card. For IPMI-free management, SuperMicro’s standard SuperO Doctor III is supplied, which can report server status over HTTP. The drawback, of course, is that it’s reliant on the operating system being up and running, which a full IPMI module is – independent of OS state.

What the system lacks in airflow ducts it makes up for in sheer airflow capacity from its trio of high-power, hot-swappable cooling fans, all of which can be replaced inside ten seconds. They’re commensurately loud, though; it wouldn’t be practical to use this chassis anywhere near people trying to get work done.

The Igloo is an impressively solid and straightforward system; the price above is for the chassis configured with 4GB of 667MHz RAM, a pair of 2346HE Barcelona processors and a trio of Seagate NS-series 750GB drives. Coming in at under £3,000, the system will be a prime candidate for SMBs looking to tread the virtualisation route and consolidate ageing servers.

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