Intel's New Modular Server

The Intel Modular Server is the Santa Clara, Calif.-based processor giant's dramatic new push to small businesses and the midmarket. At 6u and weighing in at about 200 lbs., the box can hold up to six quad- or dual-core servers and as much as 2 terabytes of internal storage.

One of the architectural points Intel built into the device was a form factor that provides a high ease of deployment -- without a rat's nest of wires.

A potentially key feature to the Intel Modular Server is the integration of Layer 2 switching technology into the back of the chassis. This configuration has the potential to allow small or midmarket businesses to eliminate additional infrastructure and simply focus on getting up and running.

The front of the box is built with four USB and two Firewire ports for connecting keyboard, mouse and monitor. Data or applications can also be uploaded to the device from a USB drive.

After an initial startup with noise that tops 90 decibels, the Intel Modular Server (configured with two servers and 500 Gb of storage) quieted down somewhat within a few minutes. It generally ran within a range of 79 dB to 88 dB, while Intel said a "quiet kit" could take that down to about 55 dB.

The Intel Modular Server didn't run as hot as we thought it might. The Test Center found the internal heat of the box about 85 degrees, give or take a few degrees, over a few days of constantly running.

Intel has made an investment in developing a system management console, Virtual Presence, which provides a real-time, highly graphical virtual look at the system and its status. It can be managed from the device or remotely.

From the Virtual Presence interface, the server allows for a view of the system's storage layout and can guide a solution provider through the process of dynamically managing storage allocation while working remotely.

Of course, Intel's main mission is to sell more processors. The Intel Modular Server is designed to house up to six servers, each with a dual-core or quad-core chip.