Review: Supermicro Server Holds Its Own

Server Challenger

Supermicro, once it saw the results of the CRN Test Center's Battle of the Titans server wars, was eager to throw its hat into the ring. It did so by sending a Supermicro SYS-2027R-72RFTP+, which is the company's parlance for a high-end server that's on par with the Dell PowerEdge R720 and Hewlett-Packard ProLiant DL380p systems, which had previously duked it out. Read on to learn more about one of Supermicro's latest powerhouse servers for the SMB.

Super Flexible

The Supermicro SYS-2027R-72RFTP+ contains a two-socket (LGA 2011) motherboard built for Intel's Xeon E5-2600 and E52600 v2-series processors. The tested system had two Xeon E52690 v2 10-core CPUs running at 3.0GHz. It arrived preconfigured with 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 running on 64 GB of 1,866MHz ECC DDR3 memory, a mere fraction of its 1.5-TB LRDIMM maximum. The system's 24 240-pin DIMM slots also support as much as 768 GB of RDIMM or 192 GB of UDIMM. Incidentally, both CPUs must be present for access to some motherboard features, such as PCIe slots and controllers.

Expansion Rising

Supermicro's highly configurable X9DRW-7TPF+ motherboard also supports a series of right- and left-side PCIe 3.0 (x32 and x16) riser-card options as well as on-board networking and storage configurations. "We like Supermicro because it does offer so many permutations that many times let you get a closer fit for what the customer needs," said Keith Josephson, vice president of engineering at ION Computer Systems, a developer of high-performance computing systems for financial and other markets. "They start with one basic board and chassis design and then offer 10 or 15 variations in terms of SATA, SAS, RAID, and Gigabit and 10-Gbit NICs. I don't know of anyone offering as many versions of a basic design as they do," he said, adding that ION has been a Supermicro reseller for more than 10 years.

Happy Chassis

The front panel of Supermicro's 2U CSE-219A-R920WB chassis makes room for 16 2.5-inch hot-swap SAS or SATA spinning or solid-state drives connected to a 3- and 6-Gbps backplane, a 5.25-inch half-height drive bay, optional slimline DVD or USB/com tray, a power switch, six LEDs and four high-performance fans. Redundant, hot-swap 920-W power supplies and room for four full-height and three low-profile expansion cards are found on the rear. As in the photo, the tested system included dual Intel 82599 10-Gbit Ethernet, dual Intel i350 Gbit Ethernet, an out-of-band management port, and USB and PS/2 ports. The tested motherboard was able to control a maximum of eight drives; adding more would require an optional controller.

Performance The Bottom Line

When tested in the CRN labs, the 20-core Supermicro SYS-2027R-72RFTP+ turned in a top Geekbench 2.3 score of 34,298, good enough for fourth place on the CRN Top 10 Servers list. However, the company claimed that its own engineers were able to achieve a Geekbench score of 45,043 with an overclocked 16-core machine running Windows 7 Ultimate. Either way, Supermicro offers a solid machine that's easy to service and manage, comes in a wide variety of configurations and has proven that it can perform with the best of them.