Transtec 4200 Premium Server review

Price when reviewed

Transtec’s 4200 Premium Server delivers a choice specification that centres around the latest 7300 Xeon MP quad-core processors. Codenamed Tigerton, there are eight members in this family, with speeds of up to 2.93GHz. The 4200 is essentially an Intel S7000FC4UR server platform, with the review system sporting a quartet of low-power 1.86GHz L7345 CPUs, each consuming 50W.

Transtec 4200 Premium Server review

The 4200 exhibits excellent design and build quality, and the front panel is split into three main sections, with large cooling fans mounted in hot-swap cages on each side. These are easily removed and a baffle plate drops down when they’re pulled out, allowing airflow from the remaining fans to be distributed evenly during replacement. The centre section holds a large disk bay with room for up to eight SFF SAS hard disks in hot-swap carriers, with the review model supplied with a single 146GB high-performance Seagate Savio drive. Above is a single 5.25in expansion bay.

Removing the lid reveals a tidy interior. The processors are arranged in a line across the chassis and teamed up with large passive heatsinks. On the review system, Transtec opted to deliver all 16GB of memory on a single card. You’ll need a different configuration to take advantage of some of the advanced memory features, since the chipset supports memory sparing and mirroring. Mirroring splits available system memory in two and duplicates data across each half; sparing reserves the last memory bank and uses it to replace one that’s encountered too many correctable errors.

Storage fault tolerance looks good, as the server comes with an LSI Logic-based SAS RAID card that sits in a dedicated PCI-E slot connected directly to the hard disk backplane. The card comes as standard with 512MB of cache memory, and the price includes the battery backup module. With RAID6 and RAID60 in the equation, this puts the 4200 on level pegging with HP’s ProLiant servers. Expansion potential looks good, as you have seven PCI-E slots, and power-fault tolerance is also on the agenda, with both 1,570W hot-plug supplies included.

Power is now a hot topic, and the new Xeon MPs consume a lot less than their predecessors. To test this, we placed an in-line power meter on the server and measured about 347W with all 16 cores in idle. Using SiSoft Sandra, we pushed the processors to more than 90% utilisation, and saw an average of 470W. This may seem high, but the Xeon 7100-equipped Broadberry 8014T-TB rack server (web ID: 102310) with its four dual-core processors pushed to the max, reported a 680W power peak, which only dropped to 420W in idle. And with reduced power requirements come low noise levels for a powerful server.

Server management receives a boost, as you get Intel’s optional I/O riser board that sports its RMM2 NIC and KVM modules. This allows the server to be accessed remotely, just so long as power is being supplied. Management is via a secure web browser session that offers access to functions such as sensor monitoring and power control. Full remote control is also included, and you can designate a floppy or CD-ROM drive on the management system as a virtual device on the managed system.

For general server management, Intel now turns to Microsoft’s System Center Essentials 2007. It provides a smart interface where multiple servers and workstations running the appropriate agent can be gathered together and monitored. A discovery wizard locates all manageable systems that are AD members and adds them to the interface. You can use System Center to monitor critical components and send out alerts if anything untoward is spotted, and it provides software distribution tools, too.

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