BACKGROUND IMAGE: 3dmentat/iStock

Buyer's Handbook:

Select the best server for your data center

Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

A rundown of server hardware vendors and the server options

There is no shortage of server options available on the market today. Discover the leading vendors in these in-depth overviews of the blade, rack and mainframe computers available.

Server hardware vendors offer servers of all shapes and sizes, providing a wide range of options for organizations. Most of the major players include rack servers in their inventories, but many also provide blade servers, and some even offer mainframe computers.

Server hardware vendors usually offer other types of systems, as well, such as towers, converged infrastructures, hyper-converged infrastructures (HCIs), high-density systems or supercomputers.

Acer

Acer Inc. offers a handful of rack servers that target midsize and enterprise-level organizations. These rack servers include the Altos and AR series, available in 1U and 2U form factors. The Altos series includes four models, all dual-socket. The AR series includes two models, one single socket and one quad socket.

One of the most powerful Altos systems is the AR580, which supports up to four Intel Xeon E5-4600 Processors and up to 48 dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs). The server also provides redundant hot swappable power supplies and a dual-port, 10-gigabit Ethernet controller.

In addition to the rack servers, Acer offers the AW2000h F2 series, which includes two models of high-density servers. Although Acer does not bill these as blade servers, the systems are similar in many ways. For example, the Acer AW2000h w/AW370h F2 system comes in a 2U rack-mountable chassis that can run up to four server nodes, each with up to two Xeon Processors and 16 DIMMs. In addition, Acer offers several tower models and one mini-tower.

For information about pricing and how to purchase servers, buyers should directly contact Acer.

Editor's note

With extensive research into the server market, TechTarget editors have focused this series of articles on server vendors with considerable market presence and that offer at least one product among blade, rack and mainframe computer types. Our research included Gartner, Forrester and TechTarget surveys.

Asus

AsusTek Computer Inc. is one of the server hardware vendors that offer a variety of rack servers, as well as two tower and two high-density graphics processing unit (GPU) servers. The rack servers are part of the RS series and the ESC4000 series.

The RS series includes nine models available in 1U or 2U form factors. The servers target a range of operations depending on business size and workloads. For example, the RS720-E9-RS12-E rack server in the RS series supports up to two Intel Xeon Scalable Processors for a total of 56 cores and 112 threads. The server can also support up to 3 TB of memory. Other servers in the RS series are not nearly as robust.

The ESC4000 series includes three models, all 2U form factors and two-socket systems, with support for up to eight DIMMs per CPU. The primary differences between the models are in the processor types and number of drive bays. For example, the ESC4000 G3 supports Intel Xeon E5-2600 Processors and up to eight hot swappable 3.5-inch drives, but the ESC8000 G4 supports Xeon Scalable Processors and up to eight hot swappable 2.5-inch drives.

Buyers can purchase Asus servers online from retailers such as Newegg, Amazon or CDW, but they should keep in mind that prices can vary significantly. For example, list prices for the ESC4000 G3 at these three retailers range from about $1,900 to $3,300, not including processors or memory.

Cisco

Cisco offers seven models of rack servers and six models of blade servers to accommodate organizations of all sizes, with prices starting anywhere between $3,000 and $26,000. The rack servers are included in the Unified Computing System (UCS) C-Series and are available in 1U, 2U and 4U form factors. Most models support up to two Xeon Processors, but the C460 M4 and C480 M5 support up to four, with memory varying between 1.5 TB and 6 TB. The maximum amount of supported internal storage can range between 30 TB and 246 TB.

The blade servers are part of the UCS B-Series, with each supporting two or four processors depending on the model. As with the rack servers, total available memory ranges between 1.5 TB and 6 TB, with maximum storage between 6.4 TB and 39 TB.

Cisco also offers its UCS S-Series of storage servers, its UCS E-Series of branch office blade servers and the UCS C-Series of multimode servers.

Buyers interested in purchasing servers can go to the Cisco website to find a nearby retailer.

Dell EMC

Dell EMC is another one of the server hardware vendors that offer a wide range of rack and blade servers to accommodate different types of organizations. Most of the rack servers are part of the PowerEdge R-Series, with starting prices ranging from $899 to $10,759.

The R-Series includes four one-socket models, ten two-socket models and five four-socket models available in form factors between 1U and 4U. One of the most powerful of these servers is the PowerEdge R940xa, a 4U system that supports up to four processors, 6 TB of memory and 32 internal 2.5-inch disks.

Dell EMC blade servers are available through the PowerEdge M-Series, which includes two models starting at $1,849. The models differ in terms of the number of sockets, types of processors, amount of memory, and in several other ways.

For example, the PowerEdge M640 blade server supports up to two Xeon Scalable Processors and 16 DIMMs, whereas the PowerEdge M830 supports up to four Xeon E5-4600 Processors and 48 DIMMs.

Dell also offers seven models of tower servers, all part of the PowerEdge family, as well as the PowerEdge MX series and PowerEdge FX series, both billed as modular infrastructures for high-density computing, similar to the PowerEdge M-Series.

Buyers can purchase servers directly on the Dell EMC website.

Fujitsu

Fujitsu Ltd. sells an assortment of racks, blades, towers, mainframes and other types of computers to organizations of any size, but buyers must be aware that the available models can vary between countries.

In the U.S., Fujitsu offers eight rack servers that are part of the Primergy RX series. The servers are available with one, two or four sockets and in 1U, 2U and 4U form factors. Fujitsu also offers four rack models in the Primequest series, which tend to be more robust than those in the Primergy RX series. For example, the Primequest 3800E server is an eight-socket system with a 7U form factor, and it supports up to 12 TB of memory.

What sets Fujitsu apart from most other server hardware vendors is its BS2000 series of mainframe computers. The series includes three models. The most performant is the SE700B, which can run several operating systems based on an ESA/390 architecture and Intel x86 technologies. However, buyers should note that this product is only available for purchase in Japan.

In addition to the mainframe computers, Fujitsu offers the Primergy BX400 blade series, which supports two compute blade models, the BX2560 M2 and the BX2580 M2, along with other chassis components. Plus, Fujitsu offers its Primequest mission-critical series, Primergy tower servers, Sparc M-Series and PrimeHPC supercomputers.

For prices and purchasing options, buyers should contact Fujitsu directly or contact a regional Fujitsu sales office.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) offers a wide range of rack and blade servers for all types of organizations. HPE's rack servers are available in four series: ProLiant DL, ProLiant XL, Apollo and Integrity.

The ProLiant DL series is the most extensive and includes six Gen10 models and four Gen9 models. The models are available in 1U, 2U and 3U form factors and come with one, two or four sockets.

Starting prices can range anywhere from $600 to $25,000. For example, the ProLiant DL560 Gen10 entry server lists for $11,855 and supports up to two Xeon Scalable Processors and 6 TB of memory.

HPE also offers a range of blade servers, with three models in the ProLiant series and two models in the Integrity series. Prices here can also vary, although not to the extreme of rack servers. For instance, ProLiant configurations can range between $3,300 and $14,470.

HPE's products also include towers; converged and hyper-converged infrastructures; and systems such as the HPE Superdome, ProLiant Easy Connect, ProLiant MicroServer, ProLiant Moonshot and ProLiant XL Server.

Buyers can buy servers directly from the HPE website.

Huawei

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.'s FusionServer line includes 13 rack server models and 15 blade server models to accommodate both large and small IT operations. The rack servers come in two-socket, four-socket and eight-socket configurations and are available in form factors from 1U to 8U.

For example, the FusionServer RH8100 V3 server has an 8U form factor and supports up to eight Xeon E7-8800 Processors, 12 TB of memory and 24 internal 2.5-inch drives. Its blade servers are equally varied, providing both half-width and full-width compute nodes, as well as liquid-cooled nodes, with support for one or two processors.

In addition to the rack and blade servers, Huawei offers its FusionServer X high-density servers, FusionServer heterogeneous servers, FusionCube HCI systems and KunLun mission-critical servers.

For information about prices and how to purchase Huawei servers, buyers should contact Huawei or a sales partner directly. Organizations that signed an eDeal agreement with Huawei can use the online eDeal ordering system.

IBM

IBM offers a variety of server products, but the company is best known for its Z mainframe computers, available in three configurable models. The most current is the z14, which includes a 10-core z14 processor chip that uses 14 nanometer silicon-on-insulator technology. In addition, the server can support up to 8 TB of memory and run both z/OS and Linux on IBM Z.

IBM also offers a variety of rack servers. The rack servers are part of the Power Systems series and include 13 models, available in 1U, 2U and 4U form factors, with one or two sockets.

IBM no longer offers blade servers. The company sold its division that offered blade systems to Lenovo. The systems that IBM currently sells are generally geared toward enterprise deployments, as well as local, state and federal governments.

In addition to mainframe and rack computers, IBM offers the LinuxOne Emperor II system, Power Systems scale-out servers, Power System S822LC for Big Data, Power System S822LC for Commercial Computing, HCIs and towers.

For information about prices and how to purchase servers, buyers should directly contact an IBM sales rep.

Inspur Group

Inspur offers 10 rack server models that can accommodate a variety of workloads. Most of these are part of the NF series, which includes seven two-socket servers and two four-socket servers. The two-socket systems are available in both 1U and 2U form factors and the four-socket systems in the 4U form factor.

Inspur also offers the TS860G3 rack server as part of the TS series. The server comes in an 8U form factor and supports up to eight processors, 12 TB of memory and 16 hot swappable 2.5-inch drives, making it the most robust of the rack servers.

Then there is the NX series of blade servers, which includes four compute node models, along with other types of components typical of a blade system, such as storage expansion nodes, PCIe expansion nodes, switch modules, network mezzanine cards and the chassis. In addition, Inspur offers the i24 high-density rack-mounted server and several rack-scale systems based on SmartRack, a flexible rack structure that contains centralized power, cooling and management at the rack level.

For information about prices and how to purchase servers, buyers should directly contact Inspur.

Intel

Intel currently offers two categories of rack servers, grouped in the S1200SP and S2600WF server board series.

The S1200SP series includes three models with single processors and 1U form factors, making them best suited for small businesses. The S2600WF series includes 11 models and is geared more toward larger organizations. These servers are available in 1U and 2U form factors and support dual processors. Buyers might also come across the S2600WT series of rack servers, but these models have been discontinued.

Intel does not sell blade servers, but it does provide other systems. Notable among these is its Data Center Blocks systems, which are purpose-built, fully validated server systems. Intel also offers its Storage System JBOD2000 servers, which support up to 48 TB of storage.

For information about pricing and how to purchase servers, buyers should contact Intel authorized distributors, which are listed on the Intel website. Customers can also use Intel's online Configure to Order system to request quotes and place orders as part of the configuration process.

Lenovo

Most of Lenovo Group Ltd.'s rack servers are part of the ThinkSystem line, which includes seven rack servers available in 1U or 2U form factors. A couple of these servers support only one processor, but most support two, with memory varying between 64 GB and 3 TB.

For example, the ThinkServer RS160 is an entry-level 1U server that supports only one processor and 64 GB of memory, whereas the ThinkSystem SR630 is designed for data center workloads, supporting up to two processors and 3 TB of memory. In addition, Lenovo offers the System x series, which includes three rack models that can handle various types of workloads.

As part of its ThinkSystem line, Lenovo also offers two blade compute node models: SN550 and SN850. The first is a two-socket blade that supports up to 3 TB of memory and the second is a four-socket blade that supports up to 6 TB of memory. Both systems use the Xeon Platinum Processor, which can run up to 28 cores. In addition to the rack and blade servers, Lenovo offers tower servers, mission-critical servers and high-density servers.

Buyers can purchase servers directly through the Lenovo website. Rack servers start at $1,499 and blade servers start at $4,099, but prices can run much higher depending on the model and configuration.

NEC

NEC Corp. offers nine rack servers that are all part of the Express5800 line. The servers are categorized as basic rack servers -- five models -- fault-tolerant servers -- two models -- and scalable enterprise servers -- two models.

The basic rack servers are available in 1U and 2U form factors. They support one or two processors, between 64 GB and 3 TB of memory, and between 40 TB and 194 TB of internal storage, making them suitable for a wide range of workloads.

The fault-tolerant rack servers are 4U systems that support up to two processors, 512 GB memory and 9.6 TB of storage.

The scalable enterprise servers are also 4U systems, but they support up to four processors, 6 TB of memory and 9.6 TB of storage.

NEC also offers tower servers and modular servers, which are high-density, dual-socket systems that use Xeon Scalable Processors. The servers include over 35 MB of cache and support up to 2 TB of memory and 24 TB of storage. The modular servers are similar to blade servers and are available as either 1U or 2U server modules.

For information about pricing and how to purchase servers, buyers should contact NEC directly. Although NEC servers might be suitable for organizations of any size, the vendor has a more limited selection compared to other vendors.

Oracle

Although Oracle does not offer a large number of servers, its inventory includes a surprising amount of variety, most of which target midrange and larger organizations. The systems include x86 servers, Sparc servers, high-end servers, midrange servers and scale-out servers. Oracle even offers servers that conform to the Network Equipment Building System standard. Despite this variety, Oracle does not offer blade servers.

Oracle's rack servers fall primarily in the x86 category and are part of the X7 series. The series includes three models, which all use Xeon Scalable Processors.

The X7-2 model, billed as a compute-optimized system, is a 1U server that supports up to two processors, 1.5 TB of memory and eight 2.5-inch storage drives. The X7-2L model is a storage-optimized 2U system that also supports up to two processors and 1.5 TB of memory, but it can handle up to 12 3.5 inch drives. The final model, X7-8, is a scale-up 5U server that supports up to eight processors, 6 TB of memory and eight 2.5 inch drives.

For information about pricing and how to purchase servers, buyers should directly contact Oracle.

Supermicro

Of all these featured server hardware vendors, Supermicro Computer Inc. offers the largest server selection, but its categorization can make it difficult to navigate the options.

In addition to towers, mid-towers and mini-towers, Supermicro offers SuperServer computers, SuperBlade systems, Ultra 1U and 2U platforms, BigTwin 2U four-node systems, FatTwin 4U multi-node systems, SuperStorage servers, GPU platforms with up to eight GPUs, and multiprocessor servers that support up to eight CPUs.

For the most part, however, the rack servers are included in the SuperServer series, with some of the other categories integrated into that category. The blade servers are part of the SuperBlade series.

The SuperServer series includes hundreds of models, with a range that can accommodate just about any workload. The servers come in 1U, 2U, 3U and 4U form factors, and with one, two or four sockets. The SuperBlade series includes about 50 models.

As with rack servers, there is something for everyone. Supermicro recommends that customers purchase servers from authorized local resellers or distributors in order to receive guaranteed local support and services.

Because Supermicro sells so many products, prices can vary greatly depending on the server model and configuration. Buyers must do their homework or work with resellers to pick the best option.

This was last published in January 2019

Dig Deeper on Server hardware strategy

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Which server products have been the most efficient for your data center?
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

SearchWindowsServer

SearchServerVirtualization

SearchCloudComputing

Close