Evesham Technology SilverEDGE 1500TS review
For general server applications at the SME level, there’s little difference in real-world performance, if any, between Intel’s Xeon and AMD’s Opteron. On the street, unit prices are generally slightly higher for Xeons but, again, there isn’t a huge difference, and the choice between these two manufacturers could easily be made on something as simple as brand loyalty.
The SilverEDGE 1500TS is certainly a good choice for AMD loyalists looking for an all-purpose workgroup or small-business server. It provides plenty of expansion potential, high levels of storage and good power fault tolerance. Build quality is also a key feature, as the chassis is extremely sturdy. It’s manufactured by Taiwan- based In Win Developments (www.in-win. com.tw) – we’ve used two older versions of this chassis for a number of years and they’ve been regularly upgraded, swapped around, dropped and generally beaten up, yet they still keep coming back for more.
This new chassis has a clean mesh-grille front door that can be key-locked shut, and behind this you’ll find three 5.25in expansion bays. Storage potential is extremely good, as moving the floppy drive to a vertical mount to one side has created enough space to fit two five-drive hot-swap cages. The review model came with one hot-swap cage and a trio of 80GB WD800 SATA drives installed. It’s easy enough to add the second cage, as the power and enclosure status connectors are in place ready to receive it. The side panel can’t be locked shut, but it does have an intrusion-detection micro-switch fitted. Behind this, you’ll find the interior a little busy, mainly due to the five SATA cables connecting the backplane to the Adaptec 2810SA RAID controller card. Note this is the eight-port variety, so to take advantage of all the SATA potential you’ll have to opt for the 16-port 21610SA. However, to save port wastage, you could try 3ware/AMCC’s 12-port 9500S-12 instead (for both products see issue 120, p186).
The motherboard comes courtesy of MSI. Its MS-9161 model is another good choice – IBM uses MSI boards in its Opteron-based servers as well. This is the FA4R version that provides a further four SATA ports instead of Ultra320 SCSI. The embedded SATA controller even offers RAID support that extends to mirrored and striped arrays or a combination of both. The price includes only a single 1.8GHz Opteron processor, although it’s easy and cheap enough to add a second module. You also get 1GB of PC3200 memory, and a total of 12 DIMM sockets means the wealthy could upgrade to a whopping 24GB. Expansion options are good, as there are three 64-bit PCI-X and two 32-bit PCI slots provided.
Cooling is very good too. The hard disk cage gets two fans, the processor is fitted with an active heatsink and a large 12cm fan deals with general air movement through the chassis. However, a big drawback is comparatively high noise levels. If you want peace and tranquillity, we recommend the latest servers from Fujitsu Siemens, as the TX300 S2 (see issue 127, p173) is one of the quietest yet. But power options for the price are good – you get three hot-swap PSUs supplied by a pair of power sockets. Network connections are handled by a couple of integrated Broadcom gigabit Ethernet adaptors, but it was disappointing to find the Advanced Control Suite software wasn’t included. This is required if you want to bond the two adaptors together for fault-tolerant or high-speed links. This isn’t even available for download on Broadcom’s own website and, ridiculously, the only place we could find it was on Dell’s US support site.