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Lenovo ThinkServer: Fast, versatile, energy efficient

Lenovo 2U server sports 12 CPU cores and tons of storage

By Tom Henderson, Network World
January 14, 2013 12:05 AM ET

Network World - We tested the Lenovo ThinkServer RD630 in our network operations center cabinet at nFrame in Carmel, Ind., and found that it fits the bill if you're looking for a powerful, versatile 1/2U server.

The biggest limitation, we found, is that the standard sample we were sent has just two or three (depending on configuration options chosen) Gigabit Ethernet ports, which may limit its usefulness in high-traffic environments unless optional Ethernet cards are installed.

10 things we love/hate about Lenovo ThinkServer

The basic kit includes the server, rack rails, power cord, and DVDs with software and guides. The rack rails looked a little flimsy, but surprisingly they installed in seconds, snap snap, repeat. The instructions said to use two people to attach the server, but one of us, the gutsy one, lifted the RD630 perilously onto the extended rails, went snap snap, repeat, and the 2U server unit was attached, and ready to slam back into the cabinet.

There were the usual dual power supply connections. Warnings also state to keep the temperature under 35C/95F, but the nFrame NOC can chill a quart of milk for months. There were three Ethernet jacks to connect, one of which can be used for the ThinkServer management components. We fired it up, and wondered if there should be a warning for excess noise. The ThinkServer, like HPs and the old Apple Xserver we use, would be at home at an international airport. Like the HP, however, you can turn down the fans if you're so disposed. The Apple sounds like it's been on the runway for several years now, waiting patiently to take off.


Options and Considerations

The ThinkServer comes with two DVDs, one RAID Configuration Tool, and the other Documentation. There's room on the face of the RD630 for a DVD drive and our unit came with one; finding a DVD drive is unusual in 1U and 2U servers so we were happy with having one for boot options. We could also use Intel's PxE Boot to bring up the server, but having a DVD drive was a joy.

On the RD630's front face are eight slots for 2.5-inch SATA or SAS drives. We liked the VGA jacks on the front and back, but there are only three Gigabit Ethernet jacks, and one of these is likely to be used for management backplane access leaving just two Gigabit Ethernet connections for the server and any VM guests or web processes on the machine. We'd like to see more-- and even 10G Ethernet jacks. There's plenty of musculature in the Lenovo RD630 and it's a shame to be weakly connected.

However, those desiring more or faster (think 10G Ethernet) connectivity have the ability to use up to five PCI Express card slots on the two risers built inside the server. However, be aware that the PCI Express bus will throttle lots of network cards because of its own bus speed limitations. Were we to order additional Ethernet cards, we'd ask for a TCP Offload Engine Card (TOE) or otherwise intelligent Ethernet cards that have onboard processors so as not to slow down first the PCI bus, but also to prevent constant processor interruptions.

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