Dell Server Guts

So what's the first thing I had to do when shown a pile of servers to install? That's right, crack them open and see what makes 'em tick. I'll start out with the web servers.

Web Servers

These are 3 machines that were laid out pretty cleanly. You probably can't see it, but there are 4 fans in front of each CPU. Several fans on the power supply and another across the motherboard make this one noisy server. Of course, since heat is the natural enemy of computers, I don't really care that it has more fans than all of the PC's in my office combined. I think that's a good thing.
As you can see from the picture above, the memory is easy to get at, and the wiring is pretty straight forward. There wasn't even a need for an add-on board in these servers. Of course, pretty much anything failing means the motherboard needs to be replaced in a Dell, but that's the way most any name brand server is these days.

Mail Server

The mail server that we'll be using was a little shorter, but what amazed me most about it was that it had no drive controller at all on the motherboard. The memory is much more difficult to get at, many fewer fans (two across the processor and one for the power supply was it). If you look closely, you can see two added-on drive controllers. One is a small daughterboard that contains an IDE and two SATA controllers which sticks out just behind the divider for the motherboard and drive portions of the case. The second is the SCSI card that was added on for the mirrored drives.

This has got to be one of the smallest server motherboards I've seen in a while. There really isn't any room wasted on the board, which is why the drive controllers had to be added as an afterthought. Seems rather funny to me to have a machine without a drive controller included on the motherboard, but then again - it is a Dell.


Kjell Bleivik said…
Outdated? Look at my first post:
Al said…
The drive controller isn't an added afterthough, its a well thoughtout ahead of time, errr, thought. Many people use 1Us as compute nodes which netboot and dont need a drive. Also, people spec SATA, IDE, SCSI so the daughter card can be swapped for which ever is needed meaning just the bits needed are in there. Clever. Many newer server designs are similar.

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