Server order

Posted on 2011-04-25
Last Modified: 2012-05-11

I am purchasing a new server from Dell and have a few questions...

1.  I was intending to get 12GB RAM.  However, none of the 12GB selections came in ECC.  I have always purchased ECC RAM for servers.  I should change my selection to insure ECC shouldn't I?

2.  My OS selection is "Windows Server 2008 R2, Standard Academic Edition,x64 Includes 5 CALs".  This is downgradeable to 32-bit server 2003 isn't it?

3.  The interface didn't offer me any media kits... any reason why that might be?

4.  I selected a RAID5 configuration and 4 identical 300gb hotswap drives... this should give me 900gb of usable space correct?  I am going to separately purchase another 300gb hotswap drive which I should be able to later add to the system and configure as a hotspare without affecting anything else - right?  (The reason I am not ordering it with the server is that Dell would just add it to the raid configuration and I want it configured as a spare).

5.  I am ordering 10k drives even thogh the 15k drives are not much more.  I have had a much higher rate of failure among the 15k drives... consensus?

6.  The internal controller could be "PERC H700 Integrated RAID controller"... or "PERC H700i, 8hd chasis"... I didn't see any online references to the difference.  But I have selected H700i because it also says "8hd chasis"... which is my chasis configuration.  Do I need the H700i?

7.  I can save $173 if I purchase iDRAC express rather than enterprise.  Do I need this at all... I usually just manage the system through remote desktop?
Question by:santaspores1
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    1.  ECC is nice... some say you can't live without it... personally, I can't point to a single instance in 16 years in which ECC prevented something or not having ECC caused a crash... maybe it did... but I find failures to be so infrequent, I just don't see an issue.

    2.  Maybe.  See disclaimer below.  Volume Licenses are.  Academic Licenses may be.  OEM licenses MAY BE - they may only downgrade one level (ie, 2008 R2 to 2008).

    3. It's cheaper not to produce them.  When you get the OS preinstalled, you can create a backup immediately after getting it which can effectively act like a media kit.

    4. Yes, 900 GB.  Yes, you should be able to add a hot spare later.

    5. 15K RPM drives spin faster, generate more heat.  More failures are pretty much inevitable.  Do you need faster?  Depends on what the server is doing for you.

    6.  Sorry, can't answer this one - see note below

    7.  iDRAC is not for everyday management - it's for offline management. Such cards can allow you to reboot the server remotely and even enter BIOS - you cannot enter BIOS if the system fails to boot and the iDRAC card should allow you to see the boot process and why it's failing to boot - and even let you interact with BIOS.  If the server is in your home and you never leave the house, fine, don't get it... but if you ever leave and need to do something remotely, this can be a lifesaver.

    Note for #6: I hope you aren't configuring online and planning on just placing the order.  You SHOULD be calling a Dell sales person once you know what you want and asking them most of these questions - in addition, the discounts you can get from Dell Sales Reps CAN be as much as 10-25% or more... especially NOW, which is an end-of-quarter at Dell.

    DISCLAIMER: Licensing advice offered here is a "best effort" and based on the understanding of the respondents. Licenses can change and we may not be aware of these changes or may misunderstand them. Further, licenses can differ by country and/or region and what we understand to be true in our region could be false in your region. "they told me on Experts-Exchange" will not be a valid defense in a software audit.  All licensing questions should be confirmed with the appropriate licensing authority (the maker of the software/issuer of the license).  
    LVL 32

    Assisted Solution

    Just to add to leew's valuable insight:

    1. Which server are you trying to order?  I'm not aware of any currently-shipping Dell servers that support non-ECC, although some models have different kinds of memory (Unregistred and Registered DIMM's) and memory configurations (Advanced ECC, Optimized).

    4. Not only can you configure the hot-spare later, but you can also re-do the RAID configuration from a 4-disk RAID 5 to a 3-disk RAID 5 if you order all the disks together with the server ... this shouldn't be a big deal if you are just going to reinstall another OS anyway.

    6. Not sure what you are seeing here ... there is only one H700 controller - it is for internal server storage - and it can be ordered with either 512MB or 1GB of onboard, battery-backed cache.

    7. iDRAC Enterprise offers Virtual Media (most notable among several differences), allowing you to mount an ISO, CD/DVD, or even floppy from a remote machine for use with the server (for example, connected only to the iDRAC of your server, you can mount a 2003 ISO on your workstation, mount a floppy from your workstation for use to install 2003 on the server without ever having to load any media in the server itself) and Console Redirection (accessing BIOS/POST screens remotely - to configure/troubleshoot RAID, F1/F2 messages, or change BIOS options0.

    Author Comment

    LEEW - Great advice!

    PowerEdgeTech: To answer your questions...
    1. Poweredge R510... none of the 12MB memory choices say "ECC".
    6.  Here are the two raid controller options as listed
    a.  "PERC H700 Integrated RAID Controller 512MB Cache [subtract $138.00]"
    b. "PERC H700i INTG RAID CTL NVDIMM 512MG Cache, 8HD Chassis [Included in Price]"


    Author Closing Comment

    Thank you once again!
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    All 12GB configurations are in an Optimized configuration.  From the R510's manual:

    Memory Optimized Mode
    In this mode, the MCHs run independently of each other; for example, one can be idle, one can be performing a write operation, and the other can be preparing for a read operation. Memory may be installed in one, two, or three channels. To fully realize the performance benefit of the memory optimized mode, all three channels per CPU should be populated.To maximize performance it is better to add DIMMs across channels before adding more DIMMs to a channel that is already populated.

    All configurations, however, use ECC memory (whether UDIMM-Unbuffered or RDIMM-Registered).

    Author Comment

    Thanks for that last answer PowerEdge.
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    np ... I also meant to mention on the controller options:

    The first one is the standard H700 controller with 512MB of battery-backed cache, guaranteed to hold unwritten/cached data for the drives for up to 24 hours - helping prevent data corruption.  The second option has 512MB of battery-backed cached that, when there is a power loss, moves unwritten/cached data to non-volatile (flash) memory for stable, semi-permanent storage.

    Take care.

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