Rackservers.com R10 D-Core 175 review

Price when reviewed

Tyan may be well known for its motherboards, but it also has a large portfolio of rack servers. However, much of this is a well-kept secret, mainly due to a lacklustre marketing campaign that hasn’t pulled it out from under the shadow of Supermicro. Whereas the latter regularly delivers the latest and greatest in server technology, often well in advance of most blue-chips, the last visit by Tyan to PC Pro was back in 2002.

Rackservers.com R10 D-Core 175 review

The latest R10 D-Core 175 from Rackservers.com aims to change this viewpoint. The slimline package gets the ball rolling by offering a good specification based on a dual-core, Opteron-equipped motherboard. The system is Tyan’s Transport GT20 package comprising a well-built 1U chassis and its Tomcat K8E motherboard. At only 57cm deep, the chassis leaves room to spare at the rear, and there’s enough space at the front for up to four hard disks. The review unit comes with only a trio of 250GB SATA drives, as the left-hand bay is used for remote management duties.

Tyan offers three optional SMDC (server management daughter card) IPMI 1.5-compliant controllers, and the D-Core has a QLogic-based M3290 card fitted in the bay and wired through to a header on the motherboard.

This shows Tyan is taking remote server management more seriously, as the SMDC provides remote access to the server irrespective of its condition. Along with the card, you have three software components: the TSO (Tyan server operator) agent, manager and console. Each managed server requires the agent installed to allow it to be accessed during normal operations, while the manager acts as a go-between for the agent and console. The console is basic, but from here you can browse manageable servers, log on to them and check system and CPU temperatures, fan speeds and voltages.

The data is displayed in tabular format, and the properties of each sensor can be displayed and have their upper, lower and non-recoverable thresholds modified. If any are breached, the system can emit a warning beep, send an email alert, power itself off, or reboot. The console also provides access to power settings, so you can remotely switch off the server or reboot it. There’s no denying it’s a good start, but Tyan’s management features are unlikely to worry Dell or HP, which offer far better facilities and have the IPMI controllers embedded on their motherboards to save space.

Rackservers.com does have plans to move the IPMI controller out of the drive bay and onto the motherboard. In the meantime, you have three SATA drives fitted in hot-swap carriers, and these are looked after by an Areca PCI-Express RAID card with 128MB of integral cache memory. The card matches the likes of Adaptec and AMCC in terms of features, as it also supports RAID6 arrays allowing for double disk redundancy, although in the D-Core this is largely academic. Array management is provided via the bundled Areca HTTP proxy server, which allows the controller to be accessed remotely via a web browser. The interface provides plenty of RAID-related information and access to drives and array configurations. It also offers basic alerting features, so a failure can be signalled using a system beep, email message or SNMP trap.

Internally, the layout is tidy, with only a small amount of cable-related clutter due to the cluster of SATA, IDE and SMDC cables. The single AMD Opteron 175 processor sits at the front of the board and is topped with a solid, passive heatsink. Cooling is handled by a bank of five variable-speed fans in front, although noise levels are fairly high even after they’ve settled down. Four DIMM sockets sit next to the processor, and the price includes a good helping of PC3200 memory that can be upgraded to 4GB in total.

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