Tatung TSS-1851 review

Price when reviewed

The blue-chip rack server manufacturers would do well to keep an eye over their shoulder, as Taiwan has them firmly in its sights. Tatung is one of the chasing pack, and a brief glance at its product portfolio shows it means business. Tatung opened a new manufacturing plant in the Netherlands last year and made its debut in the UK in September 2004. We’ve already been impressed by both its budget-priced blade server offerings. Reviewed as the Evesham Technology SilverEDGE 6000TUD and 7000TUD, the former received a well-deserved Recommended award for its fine combination of features, hardware specification and excellent value.

Tatung TSS-1851 review

Tatung offers a wide selection of rack servers, ranging from 1U to 5U in height. The TSS-1851 sits at the top of a family of five dual-Xeon 1U systems. This brings together Intel’s Nocona processors plus its Lindenhurst E7520 chipset, and also adds power fault tolerance. The latter is a feature conspicuous by its absence on most 1U rack servers due to the extra internal space required. Supermicro only recently introduced dual power supplies in its low-profile rack system, which we reviewed as the transtec 1001 SCSI. MSI pops its head up again this month, as the TSS-1851 is, in fact, this manufacturer’s brand-new X2-102S3R package. It comprises MSI’s chassis and custom motherboard. The latter has been designed to work around the extra space occupied by the power enclosure, so will only fit in this chassis. The product on review is the SCSI version, but a SATA model is available as well. MSI’s rack server solutions are proving to be quite popular, as NEC is sourcing its 2U version for the Express5800/120Rg-2.

The chassis offers three hot-swap bays and the price includes a single 36GB Hitachi Ultra320 hard disk mounted in a solid carrier. Floppy and low-profile CD-ROM drives have been squeezed in above these, while serial and USB ports have been routed through to the front. The top panel is split into two separate sections and both are easily removable. The main portion of the motherboard takes up most of the rear section and is fitted round the power supply enclosure, while a separate board at the front provides a SCSI backplane for the hard disk to plug into. Storage is handled by an integrated dual-channel Adaptec Ultra320 chipset, with one channel cabled through to the backplane board. The second has been hard-wired through to the rear panel, allowing external devices to be connected.

A large bracing bar runs behind the disk bays and supports two modules containing four fans each. The modules are designed to be cold-swapped in the event of a failure and are easy enough to unplug. A separate, removable fan is provided to help keep the memory modules cool. Operational noise levels, even when the fans have settled down, are loud enough to make this a candidate for a dedicated server room. The processor sockets are located directly behind the fan banks and the price gets you a single 2.8GHz Nocona CPU, but the motherboard supports only DDR memory.

Expansion capabilities will depend on the riser card selected. The motherboard has two 64-bit PCI-X and 8x PCI Express slots, and the two riser cards supplied convert the PCI-X to horizontal 133MHz and 66MHz slots. An optional card that offers a PCI Express slot has been promised for a while, but at the time of writing this still wasn’t available. The two riser cards are mounted on a single bracket, making them easy to remove and replace. ZCR (zero-channel RAID) cards from Adaptec and Intel are also supported, so you can easily convert the existing SCSI channels to support fault-tolerant storage.

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