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Systemax Mission 8102

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Never afraid to embrace new technology as soon as it becomes available Supermicro delivered the very first EM64T server solution and hit the market some two months ahead of the competition. Reviewed here as the Mission 8102 from Systemax this slimline 1U rack server brings together a quality partnership of the Supermicro SC813 chassis and X6DHR-8G motherboard.

Supermicro has for many years excelled in low–profile rack server design, mainly because it made sure it got it right first time and the Mission 8102 packs a lot into a chassis that’s only 1.75in high. Storage potential is good, as four hot-swap drive bays have been squeezed into the front panel and the price includes three Fujitsu 33.6GB Ultra320 hard disks. Floppy and 24x low-profile CD-ROM drives are slotted in above while to one side is an LED panel showing network and hard disk activity as well as power status.

The upper panel is removed easily and underneath awaits a very tidy interior. Due to the restricted space, cooling has to be a high priority and the motherboard has been designed to ensure that the processors and memory receive as much air flow as possible. Two large blower fans sit behind the drive bays and air is directed down through the processors’ passive heatsinks, across the memory modules and out of the rear grills. The only drawback is higher noise levels, although Supermicro has made some effort to reduce this over previous examples.

The system came supplied with a pair of 3.4GHz Xeons but this motherboard only supports DDR memory of which 1GB of the PC2700 variety was fitted. If you want DDR2 support opt for Supermicro’s X6DHR-8G2 model. Storage is handled by an embedded dual channel Adaptec Ultra320 controller but you also get a credit-card sized Adaptec ASR-2015 Ultra320 zero-channel RAID controller which slots neatly into an SO-DIMM socket on the motherboard and takes over both SCSI channels.

Expansion slot options are a little muddled as the review system has a pair of 133MHz PCI-X slots which are converted to full- and half-length 64bit horizontal slots with a small riser card. PCI Express support requires a different riser card which only provides a single x8 PCI Express slot.

Server management is Supermicro’s weakest area although the motherboard does have a second SO-DIMM socket for the optional IPMI (intelligent platform management) 2.0 compliant controller card. Although not available at the time of writing this will provide full remote access to the server with support for new features including the ‘Serial over LAN’ features and improved network discovery tools. The card is accessed from Supermicro’s IPMI View utility which provides a dashboard of dials for temperatures, fan speeds and voltages and full remote control over power. General remote management tools are provided by Supermicro’s SuperO Doctor III utility which offers a slick browser interface. Although not as good as the software offered by Dell and HP it does provide plenty of system information and you can monitor the health of various critical components, manage power cycling and send out email warnings if a problem is detected.

Verdict

The Mission 8102 manages to pack a lot into this 1U chassis and all at a very low price. Unfortunately it’s beaten soundly by HP and Dell for local and remote management and monitoring features, and if your server is mission critical, you want to be able to monitor and manage it from anywhere with ease.

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