Tech brief: 1U was never so much fun back in the old days
The IBM eServer xSeries 306
Like most of America, servers are trying to slim down.
The IBM eServer xSeries 306 is an excellent example of good things in small packages. There is a lot of cutting-edge technology packed into a frame that takes up just one unit of space in a server rack. And the price of the xSeries is small as well.
The unit we tested has a 3-GHz Pentium 4 processor and an 800-MHz front side bus. To make things even zippier, there is a 1M L2 cache and 512M of RAM.
But the real stars of the show are the cutting-edge innovations incorporated into the system. It has a Serial ATA drive, which means that installing or uninstalling a hard drive requires no tools. That's pretty spiffy in a single-unit server.
For storage, if RAID is what you crave, IBM's new serveRAID 7e configuration lets you set either RAID 0 or RAID 1 for both Serial ATA drives and SCSI drives. And you can do it without losing a PCI slot. So once again, the xSeries emphasizes functionality and size.
The xSeries 306 we tested was priced at $1,389, about what you would expect to pay for a mid-level client system. At that price, the xSeries is perfect for edge-of-network applications that are not mission-critical but could benefit from a powerful, easily configured and small-footprint server. It would also work as a front-line server if needed, and would be fine for Web applications. Heck, if it had a better video card, I would almost recommend it as a client system.
And consider: At just one unit of space, you can put 42 of them into a standard server rack. As your network needs increase, you can simply buy more and slide them into place. You can have an awful lot of power stuffed into a small space.
John Breeden II directs the GCN Lab. Follow him on Twitter: @GCNLabGuys.