The 10 Coolest Servers Of 2013 (So Far)

Servers: Unique In A Sea Of Sameness

The server business for the most part is a commodity business, with similar motherboards, processors, memory modules, power supplies and connectivity options. This commoditization will only get more, well, commoditized as new form factors such as One Compute, which calls for even more standardization for fast-growing Web data centers, catches on.

Yet each server vendor faces the requirements of a wide range of customer types who are looking for the right server for their data center or server closets, and so is likely to have their own take on what a server looks like, including the addition of new software to makes its servers shine.

Here's what 10 server vendors are doing to keep their products on the leading edge.

Calxeda: Plans For ARM-Based HP Moonshot Servers

Calxeda, a developer of server cartridges based on the ARM processor, in June said it expects its ARM processor technology to be available as an option to the Intel Atom processor-based technology featured in the new high-density HP Moonshot servers.

Calxeda expects HP Moonshot servers based on the Calxeda EnergyCore ARM technology to be available to beta customers this summer, with volume production likely to start by the end of the year.

When HP releases Moonshot servers based on Calxeda technology, they are expected to feature 32-bit ARM processors, which feature a separate instruction set from the 64-bit, x86-compatible Atom Centerton S1200 processors found in the current Moonshot servers.

Dell: PowerEdge VRTX Aims At SMBs, Remote Offices

Dell in June unveiled the PowerEdge VRTX, a converged infrastructure offering with integrated server, storage and networking technology targeted at small and midsize businesses and remote offices of midsize and larger businesses.

The PowerEdge VRTX was designed to be easy to deploy, manage and maintain, Dell said.

The PowerEdge VRTX features up to four dual-processor server blades, each with a maximum capacity of 768 GB of memory. It can be configured with up to 48 TB of direct-attach storage capacity, which is shared among the up to eight processors. Dell PowerConnect networking technology also is built into the small chassis.

Fujitsu: Working With Oracle On SPARC-Based M10 Servers

Fujitsu in April expanded on its 20-plus-year partnership with Oracle to make available Fujitsu M10 servers, based on the 16-core SPARC64 X processor.

The Fujitsu M10 servers scale dynamically from one to 64 processors with a modular architecture that allows core-level CPU activation to meet changing workload requirements without downtime for existing applications, Fujitsu said. They also provide both physical partitioning as well as built-in, no-cost virtualization technologies including Oracle VM Server for SPARC and Oracle Solaris Zones.

The servers support both Oracle Solaris 10 and 11, and are guaranteed by Oracle to be binary-compatible with all current and past SPARC servers.

HP: Moonshot Servers Ship With Intel Atom S1200 Centerton

Hewlett-Packard in April unveiled the first shipments of its high-density, low-energy-consumption HP Moonshot servers based on the Intel Atom S1200 Centerton processors and promised future versions based on a wide range of processors including ARM and AMD.

HP in late 2011 unveiled Project Moonshot as a way to build energy-efficient data center architectures, with initial demonstration systems built using ARM processors from Calxeda.

However, the first commercial shipments are based on the Intel Atom S1200 Centerton processors. The Centerton processors are the first Intel low-power-consumption Atom processors to feature 64-bit support.

In the near term, HP Moonshot is slated to be available ARM processors from Calxeda. with server cartridges based on the Intel Atom Avoton, the next version of the 64-bit Atom processor, as well as new

Hyve Solutions: OCP Server For Standard 19-Inch Data Center Racks

Hyve Solutions, a division of distributor Synnex focused on providing purpose-built data center servers and storage, early this year unveiled a series of servers based on the Open Compute Project (OCP) specifications developed for large-scale data centers by Facebook.

The new Hyve Solutions 1500 Series of servers uses similar building blocks as existing OCP designs but can be installed in a standard 19-inch rack. That, Hyve said, allows the new servers to be installed in existing racks without the need to retrofit an existing data center.

Hyve's new 19-inch OCP V2 servers allow 28 two-node, 1.5U-high servers to fit into a standard 44U rack.

IBM: Channel-Only FlexPac Converged Infrastructure Bundles

IBM in June unveiled its FlexPac bundles, a converged infrastructure offering based on its PureSystems platform and available on a channel-only basis.

IBM's FlexPac bundles, which include blade servers, a chassis, network switches and an optional management appliance, are aimed at helping IBM solution providers take advantage of a growing market for converged infrastructure offerings, the company said.

The entry configuration includes a Flex System Chassis with one Flex System Manager appliance, two server nodes with dual Intel Xeon E5-2620 processors and 64 GB of memory, two converged network switches, and a three-year on-site warranty. The value configuration is similar except that it includes four nodes, each with two Intel Xeon E5-2640 processors and 128 GB of memory, while the premium configuration has four nodes, each with two Intel Xeon E5-2680 processors and 256 GB of memory.

Oracle: Its Fastest Engineered System

Oracle in June unveiled the company's Oracle SuperCluster T5-8 engineered system, part of the company's series of engineered solutions that combine its server hardware with software or middleware as tightly integrated appliance-like offerings.

Oracle SuperCluster T5-8 combines the company's SPARC T5-8 servers and the Oracle Exadata Storage Server hardware with Oracle database, middleware and systems software.

As an integrated system, Oracle claims the Oracle SuperCluster T5-8 offers up to 10 times faster database and application performance and 32 times faster deployment of database cloud services than traditional solutions that are integrated in the field. They also offer 2.5 times better performance than the previous-generation SuperCluster, Oracle said.

Stratus: Adding Zero Downtime Support To VMware vSphere Environments

Stratus Technologies, a Maynard, Mass.-based developer of fault-tolerant servers designed to provide constant availability for mission-critical applications, early this year said it supports VMware vSphere 5.1 virtualization software in its newest Stratus ftServer fault-tolerant systems.

Stratus' sixth-generation x86-based ftServer 2700, 4700 and 6400 models, which were introduced in late 2012, integrate into existing infrastructures while providing five nines (99.999 percent) availability. With the new support for vSphere 5.1, that availability is extended to the vSphere hypervisor to provide uptime with limited administrator oversight.

Stratus backs up its availability promise with a $50,000 zero-downtime guarantee for newly purchased systems. That guarantee includes both the server and the hypervisor for six months from the time of installation.

Supermicro: Support For New Intel Xeon Phi Co-Processor

San Jose, Calif.-based Supermicro in June unveiled a wide range of server solutions supporting Intel's new Xeon Phi co-processors targeting high-performance computing applications.

They include a range of blade, rackmount and high-density rackmount servers including the company's FatTwin clustered servers, which can support thousands of nodes in high-performance computing environments.

Supermicro said during the launch that the addition of the Intel Xeon Phi 3100, 5100 and 7100 co-processors will provide high-performance computing users with more options for massive parallel processing power thanks to the double-precision performance provided by the Phi chips.

Unisys: New OS Adds High Availability

Unisys in March released a new version of its own server operating environment, the OS 2200, targeting expanded mobility support, open source and security, and flexibility for high-volume transaction processing for its flagship ClearPath Dorado 4200 servers. ClearPath OS 2200 Release 14.0, a software stack of more than 100 integrated applications for the Intel Xeon-based ClearPath Dorado 4200 servers, was enhanced in three main areas.

They include the ClearPath ePortal for OS 2200 specialty partition to enable users to Web-enable enterprise applications without changing the applications themselves for use with Apple, Windows 8, Android and BlackBerry mobile devices. Also included is a new release of the Unisys Operations Sentinel application for automated, unified management of heterogeneous data centers, which includes a simplified Web interface showing the status of all managed devices, as well as support for Transport Layer Security Protocol Version 1.2 for enhanced security in Internet communications.