The 10 Coolest Servers Of 2017

The Coolest Servers This Year

It's been an up-and-down year for the server industry. The market came into the year on a weak note, with vendor shipments falling off significantly, but new chips from Intel, AMD and others brought with them some new refreshed models and shipments began to improve as the second half got under way.

The year saw Dell EMC and HPE roll out the latest generations of their respective venerable PowerEdge and ProLiant servers as the two manufacturers maintained their dominance over the worldwide server market.

However, industry analysts recognized that the growth the server market was seeing by midyear was attributable in large part to hyper-scale data center operators buying loads of self-build, ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) server components.

In the shadow of that trend, the x86 server market managed a bit of growth while mainframes continued their rapid decline.

Here are the 10 coolest servers of 2017.

Get more of CRN's 2017 tech year in review.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R740/R740XD

The R740, according to Dell EMC, is ideal for VDI users, as well as an excellent option for big data analytics. It's the workhorse of Dell EMC's venerable PowerEdge line and is at home in environments that require flexibility, storage and I/O performance. The R740XD is geared toward storage performance and density for applications like software-defined storage and customers like cloud service providers and big data users.

Dell EMC PowerEdge R940

Dell EMC launched the 14th generation of its PowerEdge server family in May with a focus on converged, hyper-converged, rack-scale, web-scale and other modern data center applications. The PowerEdge R940 is the big dog of the lineup. It's a 3U platform for demanding, mission-critical workloads like large databases and ERP systems. The company says the R940 can save up to $600,000 in Oracle licensing costs and boast impressive performance in SAP environments.

Fujitsu SPARC M12

The SPARC M12 represents a partnership between Fujitsu and Oracle. The unit was launched last spring and uses Fujitsu's SPARC64 XII processor. The company says the M12 can achieve core performance up to 2.5 times faster than its previous generation M10 server thanks to its software-on-the-chip technology that allows it to double the number of simultaneous Oracle database searches performed by the M10. The M12 comes with as many as 12 cores per CPU, 32 MB of Level 3 cache, PCIe Gen3 I/O and DDR4-2400 memory.

HPE Gen10

HPE this year introduced its 10th generation server platform, and it forms the basis of all of HPE's server lines, including the ProLiant and Apollo families. Gen10 is also the basis of HPE's Synergy converged infrastructure portfolio. Gen10 is based on Intel's Purley platform, combines DRAM and traditional SSDs or spinning disk, and supports memory types including 3X XPoint, and Intelligent System Tuning, which allows users to adjust processor performance.

HPE ProLiant DL380

The ProLiant DL380 is HPE's all-things-to-all-users server, and is based on the company's Gen9 architecture. The DL380 emphasizes reliability, serviceability and continuous availability. The unit is built on Intel's Xeon Broadwell processor and boasts DDR4 memory supporting 3 TB of capacity and 40-Gb networking options. HPE's own persistent memory is ideal for database and analytics workloads, meaning the DL380 can run workloads from the most basic to the most mission-critical.

Huawei FusionServer RH1288

Huawei's FusionServer RH1288 is part of a family of new servers introduced this year by the China-based company, and it's a good example of the kind of product that has allowed the company to make considerable gains in the server market in a very short period of time. The 1U rack server runs on Intel's Xeon E5-2600 processor with up to 20 cores per processor and boasts up to 1 TB of memory and 40 TB of internal storage. Huawei this year displaced Lenovo as the third-largest server manufacturer globally and now looks up at only industry giants Dell EMC and HPE.

Inspur Yingxin SA5212M4

Inspur posted impressive shipment growth numbers this year, putting it hot on the heels of Huawei in the global market. The SA5212 is a 2U storage rack server that supports large-capacity storage along with PCIe compatibility and flexible networking options. It uses Intel's Xeon E5-2600v3 series processors and can accommodate up to 12 3.5-inch HDDs.

Lenovo ThinkSystem SN550 And SN850

The SN550 gets the nod for private hybrid cloud deployments, or for consolidating older servers into a single blade, while the SN850 is designed for midsize databases and business applications like ERP and CRM systems. Both blade servers are expandable and designed to run a variety of workloads. Both run Intel's new Xeon Scalable processors and SAS/SATA and NVMe disk drives.

Lenovo ThinkSystem SR950

About midway through the year, Lenovo introduced a complete rebranding of its data center portfolio, dividing it into ThinkSystem hardware and a ThinkAgile line of turnkey hyper-converged appliances. The SR950 is the top of the ThinkSystem server line and is designed for mission-critical workloads. It scales from two to eight Intel Xeon Scalable processors in a 4U form factor and boasts a modular design with access from the front and rear for easy service.

Supermicro Ultra A+

AMD's new EPYC processors power Supermicro's new line of A+ servers, which boast high-capacity memory, several networking expansion options, all-flash NVMe and GPU support. The top of the line A+ model is the Ultra A+, which is a dual-socket unit with DDR4 memory, seven PCIe 3.0 slots and dual 25-GbE networking. The unit also features 24 hot-swappable 2.5-inch SSD or HDD drives in a 2U form factor.