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Boston Green Power 2200-T server review

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Boston Green Power 2200 T server

Built around a processor more at home inside consumer netbooks, the Green Power 2200-T makes up for its lack of oomph by consuming only 2U of rack space and modest amounts of energy.

Pros:

2U format, low energy and cooling requirements, hot-plug processor trays, redundant power

Cons:

Limited per-server specification, server nodes can only be hot-swapped in pairs

Overall Rating:

4 Star Rating: Recommended

Price: £5,599 + VAT

Manufacturer: Boston

If the thought of eight dual-core servers conjures up images of a rack-full of hardware and equally large energy and cooling bills, think again. The Green Power 2200-T from Boston Limited takes up just 2U of rack space, and thanks largely to Intel's energy-efficient Atom processor, won't cost the earth to run or keep cool.

An intriguing and, as far as we know, unique product, the GP2200-T looks like a high density storage appliance, thanks to 24 hot-plug drive bays arrayed across the entire front panel.

However, appearances can be deceptive, as we found when we turned it around to discover a pair of hot-swappable 80 Plus Gold Level redundant power supplies, flanked by slots to take four hot-plug processing trays.

Pull these out and each tray appears to contain a single SuperMicro motherboard with two dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom D525 processors onboard. Here again, things are not quite as they appear.

On closer inspection each 'motherboard' can be seen to hold two discrete servers, each with its own processor plus up to 4GB of ECC-protected DDR3 memory (the maximum the Atom processor will allow), dual Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, a video connector and a couple of USB ports.

This arrangement does have its drawbacks. Pull one tray out, for example, and two servers will be shut down. Plus, it doesn't leave room for plug-in adapters, but then each server node does have its own Intel storage controller hardwired through the hot-plug backplane to three of the available drive bays.

A variety of SATA disks can be specified to go in the chassis, and our review system shipped with 16 500GB Seagate spindles arranged as mirrored pairs. High-speed SSD drives can also be ordered, but they're far from cheap and not a common option on this product, according to Boston.

Indeed, experience shows that customers are more likely to hook up the GP2200-T to external storage using iSCSI rather than try to shoehorn faster disks into the cabinet.

So, what you've got here are eight dual-core servers inside a single 2U casing, each able to host its own Windows or Linux OS - essentially make it a mini server farm. Moreover, with a thermal design power of just 13W, the Atom D525 needs far less energy and cooling to do its job compared to the Xeon and Opteron processors more usually found inside a server.

2U rack-mount chassis; 80 Plus Gold Level redundant power supplies (720W); 4 x hot-swappable processing trays containing 8 x server nodes each with a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom processor, 4GB 800MHz ECC-protected DDR3 RAM, Intel ICH9R storage controller, dual Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet ports, video connector plus 2 x USB 2.0 ports; 24 x hot-plug 2.5in drive bays (3 per server node); 16 Seagate 500GB SATA 7,200rpm hard disks (2 per node, configured as a RAID 1 mirror

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