Low running costs, low energy, low space, and low noise. These are the promises that Fujitsu Siemens Computers makes for its Primergy TX line of servers.
Aimed at small to medium businesses, and at offices where the server lives with the workers, the TX120 sits at the bottom of the range, yet still sports a pretty useful feature and performance set. Best of all, it's claimed to consume up to 40 percent less power than an equivalent machine.
Packed into a diminutive 340 x 99 x 399mm box, our system came with a single 2.66MHz Xeon 3070 dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM which, together with the Intel 3000 chipset, supports VT technology, which could enable it to be deployed as a host for a small handful of virtual machines. You can buy it with a low-power - but low-performing - Celeron fitted instead.
The TX120's two 2.5-inch hot-plug SAS drive bays were occupied by 73GB disks which unclip and slide out easily. They're configured as RAID 1 by default although you can also set them as RAID 0; it's unlikely that you'd want to do so. Our example also included a DAT drive for backup purposes, plus a DVD drive.
Management is provided courtesy of FSC's standard iRMC (Integrated Remote Management Controller) which is based on IPMI 2.0 technology.
The tool-less but lockable case's front bezel swings down to reveal the drive bays, but only when it's unlocked of course. The case then slides open easily to reveal how the TX120 achieves its energy frugality. Airflow is achieved via two main system fans, plus a third fan pushing air out the back of the 250W power supply. Looking at the box from the front, directly behind the fan on the right is the PSU, which is dominated by a heatsink, heatpipe and fan assembly. In-line behind that is the deeply finned system chipset, while at the back of the compact case are three expansion slots, consisting of a PCI-e x8, a PCI-e x1 and a standard 32-bit PCI. Graphics are of course on the motherboard, along with sockets for both Gigabit and 10/100 Ethernet; the Broadcom GigE subsystem is accessed via the PCI-e bus to enable wire-speed throughput.
In the middle of the board sits the memory subsystem - it'll accept up to 8GB in ECC DDR2 modules. Next to the memory is the second system fan, which pulls air over the storage bays and into the PSU. The speed of both fans is of course under system control.
We fired up the machine and it proved to be as quiet as a modern desktop, despite packing Xeon power; FSC claims figures of 28 dB when idle and 31 database in operation. The front indicators show disk activity as well as faults. For example, when we tested the hot-pluggability of the RAID 1 setup - which worked fine - the fault light remained on until we rebuilt the array.
In use, the TX120 is claimed to draw 163W of power, or less with a Celeron fitted in place of the Xeon. Perhaps misguidedly, FSC claimed at the system's launch that the system was more efficient than a light bulb - which considering a standard filament bulb is only five percent efficient is a trifling claim.
Supplied software includes Windows Server 2003 and a server management package, FSC's Primergy ServerView Suite, that can be accessed either remotely or from the console. The system includes remote console capability too. With this system you can view detailed hardware information on this and other servers equipped with the ServerView agent, as well as set alerts for a number of thresholds, such as file system capacity, network capacity, memory usage and CPU utilisation. These can be grouped together, as can the servers, to allow administration on multiple machines.
The TX120 is no barnstormer of a computer. Its single, dual-core Xeon will handle medium loads at best - some file and print serving, maybe a lightly loaded Exchange server or a small handful of virtual machines at best. It looks expensive too, compared to low-end servers from the likes of Dell. That said, the TX120 is small and unobtrusive, in terms both of its looks and quietness, and its impact on your power bill. It's also a grown-up server, with redundancy features, a pair of network interfaces, and a professional server management software suite. Given its benefits, features and performance, we think the TX120 provides very good value for money.
If you need a file server for light to medium-load tasks and you're a small business or a large one with lots of small branch offices, the TX120 could be just what you're looking for. It's quiet and unobtrusive so it'll fit in with any office environment. While the upfront price might make you jib, the cost savings to be had by using FSC's feature-rich server management software and the lack of a need to build a dedicated server room could be reason enough to buy one -- or more.