Evesham SilverEDGE 7000TUD review

Price when reviewed

Despite impressive growth in the blade-server market, the Far East has remained uncharacteristically quiet on this topic. Supermicro is a prime example. Despite hinting that it would be delivering a complete range of Xeon and Itanium 2 blade servers in May 2004, nothing has materialised. Although Nexcom has been in the game from the start, it doesn’t have a high profile in the UK, so that leaves Tatung to take most of the Far East accolades. The company launched its first blade server at the end of 2003: under the guise of the SilverEDGE 6000TUD from Evesham, it took a well-deserved Recommended award.

Evesham SilverEDGE 7000TUD review

Tatung has moved on considerably since then, as it now has a large manufacturing plant based in the Netherlands and has recently opened offices in the UK. The TUD4010 is its next blade server, which brings dual processing into the mix. We review it here as the SilverEDGE 7000TUD from Evesham.

The compact 4U chassis supports ten dual-Xeon boards to deliver a high density of 200 processors per industry-standard rack. Although build quality can’t match blade systems from IBM or HP, the 7000TUD is still a sturdy beast that shows only a few weaknesses. Power is looked after by a pair of 600W hot-swap supplies and there’s room for two more at the back. The lack of power controls is a big minus, as the chassis powers up the moment the supplies have been connected. Tatung actually recommends inserting the blades afterwards to avoid damaging them.

Cooling is handled well by two hot-swap blower units; once the variable-speed fans had settled down we found operational noise levels to be comparatively low. On each side are two smaller slots that accommodate the management and Ethernet switch blades. Each can be paired up with a second module for further redundancy.

The network arrangement isn’t very different to the 6000TUD. The switch blade offers three external 1000BaseT uplink ports and provides a 10:1 cable consolidation to the server blades. It allows management and general network traffic to be separated out as well.

The new dual-processor server blades are well built, with their motherboard protected inside a solid-steel cage and plenty of status LEDs provided on each one. The processor modules are located at the rear and fitted with large passive heatsinks, while further forward are four DIMM sockets, two of which contain 512MB modules. Storage features aren’t so good, as you get a single 40GB 2.5in IDE hard disk with no room for a second drive, so no hardware RAID options are available. The two embedded gigabit Ethernet connections are linked separately to each switch blade. A useful feature is the single PCI-X slot on the blade, which accepts low-profile cards and is aimed at SAN applications. A proprietary KVM port at the front is used to control individual blades locally and now includes a USB port for connecting a CD-ROM, floppy drive or USB flash drive.

While build quality and specification pass muster, chassis and server blade management leave something to be desired. Initial configuration for the primary management blade has to be via the CLI as browser access isn’t supported. The same applies to the switch blades, although the limited number of Layer 2 switching features means there isn’t much to do here other than configure VLAN membership, set up link trunks and mirror data to another port. For general management and monitoring, the bundled Amphus ManageSite may not have the same level of features as IBM’s or HP’s software, but it does provide reasonable monitoring and OS deployment tools. This is a generic management product not specifically written for the 7000TUD, but Amphus has added the ability to recognise Tatung hardware.

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