Super Micro Brings Economy and Speed to Network Storage

 
 
By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-05-31
 
 
 

Super Micro Brings Economy and Speed to Network Storage


The SuperStorage Server 6027R-E1R12NJ from Super Micro may not have a catchy or easy-to-remember name. However, the unit offers memorable performance that comes with an affordable price tag.

The 2U unit is built around Intel€™s latest Xeon processor family, the E5-2600 series, and can house as many as twelve hot-swappable hard drives. Exceptional performance is backed by redundancy in the form of dual 920-watt power supplies and three heavy-duty internal cooling fans. A hardware RAID controller offers support for JBOD, or just a bunch of drives, as well as RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50 and 60 levels for serial-attached SCSI version 2 (SAS-2) or Serial ATA version 3 (SATA3) hard drives.

To see the SuperStorage Server in action, click here.

The SuperStorage Server 6027R-E1R12NJ started shipping in April 2012 with a bare-bones price (no hard drives, memory or processors) of $995. Of course, the price can grow into the thousands, depending upon how much storage, the CPUs (dual CPUs are supported) and the amount of RAM the buyer requires. The company offers a basic one-year warranty with several service options, usually available through whatever reseller you choose to buy the server from.

A Closer Look

I tested a bare-bones SuperStorage Server 6027R-E1R12NJ. I set the 2U unit up and installed a pair of Xeon E5-2650 Sandy Bridge processors, which retail for $410 each. I also installed 16GB of double data rate type 3 (DDR3) system RAM and five Seagate Savvio ST9300603SS hard drives (300GB, SAS-2) into the unit.

For my tests, I configured the system for RAID 6, which offers a high level of data protection and a low performance impact for redundancy. Speaking of performance, I measured the system's operations with PASSMark Performance Test 7.0, a common performance-testing tool that can be found at Passmark.com.

However, when it comes to measuring performance, there are many factors to take into account, and raw performance proves to be a less than ideal indicator on how a server will perform in a production environment. With that in mind, I focused on CPU performance benchmarks and disk throughput benchmarks. Of course, both of those benchmarks can be affected by configuration, basic settings, operating system issues, as well as the components selected. CPU performance came in at 13015 on the CPU Mark Scale, which is pretty speedy, especially when compared with a previous-generation Intel Xeon E3-1275, which could only muster a CPUmark of 8705.

Disk drive performance is harder to judge; it all comes down to the user-selected RAID level, operating system choice and other factors, such as cache size. Nevertheless, the PASSMark test returned a Disk Rating Score of 2520, which is respectable when compared with other disk drive subsystems. For example, a Windows 7 x64 system with an Intel solid-state drive (SSD) scored a 2666, meaning that the RAID-enabled drives on the Super Micro server managed to come close to SSD speeds, which I found impressive.

Under the Hood

One of the first things I noticed was how easy it was to install the components into the unit. The CPUs snapped into place and were held down by a socket lever. I was able to easily install passive heat sinks (included with the SuperStorage Server 6027R-E1R12NJ) onto the CPU sockets.

The Components Were Easy to Install


One nifty feature of the Super Micro chassis is the €œhood.€ To access the internal components of the server, you just need to push down on two buttons and then slide the €œhood€ back. Once the hood is off, everything is readily accessible. The steel chassis also incorporates rack-mounting rails.

The SuperStorage server is built using a motherboard that Super Micro designed and manufactured. The  motherboard incorporates an Intel C602 chipset, dual SATA controllers, a SAS AOC raid controller, Intel i350 Gigabit Ethernet controller and a host of other controllers and I/O devices. Four Gigabit Ethernet ports and nine USB 2.0 ports round out the connectivity options, while four PCI-E 3.0 slots handle expansion chores.

The unit is designed for maximum airflow and uses three high-speed fans to pump air through the chassis. I found system cooling to be very noisy; however, the fan noise should not be an issue in a typical rack of equipment.

Once I had the server assembled, it was time to breathe some life into it by powering it up. The system booted as expected and I launched the American Megatrends BIOS configuration screen to set up all of the needed parameters. The BIOS setup screens could be vastly improved with better help information.

Click here to view eWEEK Labs' slide show of the new server.

Rocket Fuel