Fujitsu Siemens Primergy TX150 S4 review

£2673
Price when reviewed

The majority of blue-chip server vendors are quick to embrace new technology, but Fujitsu Siemens always prefers to take a back seat and watch the proceedings before making any commitments. And so it is with the TX150 S4. While the competition launched comparable products some months ago, this is the first Pentium D-based system to enter the Primergy range.

This 5U chassis is well manufactured, offers plenty of expansion potential and the review system came packed with a range of remote management features. Startup and initial configuration are handled by the bundled ServerStart utility. For general management and monitoring, you get the ServerView software suite, which provides an SNMP-based interface that can access all systems on the network that have the relevant agents installed. From the ServerView interface, it’s possible to monitor areas such as processor temperatures, fans and expansion cards, while failures will cause alarms to be generated that can be tied to notifications by email, network message or pager. The automatic restart feature could prove useful, as you can select any system component, be it a fan or processor, and automatically shut down or restart the server if values for the chosen components go outside set thresholds.

The motherboard sports an embedded IPMI controller, which ties in with the Remote Server Board (RSB) installed in the lowest PCI slot in the review system. The RSB is endowed with its own processor, memory, network port, power source and OS, allowing it to act autonomously of the server. Accessed via the RemoteView web browser interface, the RSB presents a tidy interface that provides plenty of graphical information about critical components and allows administrators to remotely power the server on and off, schedule power cycles and monitor critical components. The management package included with the server compares well with those offered by HP, IBM and Dell, although the supplied documentation could be better organised.

The storage picture looks good too. The system came supplied with a trio of 73GB Seagate Cheetah Ultra320 hard disks mounted in hot-swap carriers, and the drive cage has room for one more. The S4 is also offered as a SATA variant, and we’d suggest this as a better alternative for businesses looking for high capacity as opposed to performance. The disk backplane is connected directly to the motherboard’s single SCSI interface, but RAID is still on the menu, as the server was also supplied with an LSI MegaRAID ZCR (zero-channel RAID) card, which commandeers the SCSI channel and provides plenty of array options. The card handily ties in with the ServerView software, so you can remotely monitor physical and logical drives and arrays, as well as fire up LSI’s own management utility. The price also includes backup facilities, as you get an HP DAT72 tape drive installed in one of the three 5.25in bays and connected to a dedicated Adaptec Ultra160 adaptor card. We’re in two minds about this choice as, although the 36GB native capacity of the media is sufficient for this server, a native transfer rate of only 3MB/sec will make for slow backups and restores. It’s worth noting that HP is rumoured to be stopping manufacture of SCSI DAT 72 drives, so in a server of this size we’d suggest the PC Pro Recommended Quantum DLT-V4 instead, as it offers far better performance and capacity.

A tidy internal design affords good access to all major components, and one area that never fails to impress is cooling, as the processor is adorned by the largest heatsink we’ve yet seen. This array of copper pipes and cooling fins rises 17cm from the motherboard and is partnered by a plastic shroud and 12cm-diameter fan. Fujitsu Siemens’ aim was to reduce operational noise levels, and it’s succeeded admirably, as the S4 has to be the quietest server we’ve had in the labs so far. The server is also offered as a pedestal version, which we’d recommend for general office duties.

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