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Fujitsu chases SMBs with entry tower

Protecting EMEA x64 server turf

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Fujitsu announced a new entry-level server on Wednesday that aims to tighten the company's grip on that chunk of the market in Europe.

While US-based server makers HP and Dell talk about their prowess selling small x64 boxes to small and medium businesses, they mumble a bit and look at their shoes when you talk about Europe, where Fujitsu got a boost from its long partnership with Siemens.

Siemens sold off its 50 per cent share in the Fujitsu-Siemens partnership a few months back, and now Fujitsu is running the show. And Fujitsu Technology Solutions, as the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) arm of Fujitsu is technically known, aims to maintain its dominant position in the x64 server racket among European SMBs.

To that end, Fujitsu today announced the Primergy TX100 S1 tower server, which it's billing as "the most affordable" of its x64 server line to date and as the kicker to its popular Econel 100 S2 tower.

The idea behind both of these machines is to move SMBs away from using a PC with an external hard disk as their server and to get a proper server with memory expansion, RAID disk controllers, and other peripherals, and that costs about the same as a PC. (Well, at least for the base box and before the nickel-and-dime dance begins.)

The Primergy TX100 S1 is a single-socket tower machine, as you would expect a server aimed at SMBs to be, but cash-strapped SMBs don't need the power and expense of single-socket versions of the quad-core Nehalem EP chips, dubbed the Xeon 3500s, which were announced in March alongside their two-socket big brothers, the Xeon 5500s.

Instead, the TX100 S1 - which uses Intel's 3200-series chipsets - can support a wide variety of dual-core Pentium and Core 2 Duo processors as well as dual-core Xeon E3100 and quad-core X3200 and X3300 processors. The entry chip in the box is a two-core Pentium E5200 running at 2.5GHz with 2MB of cache, while the top-end chip in the TX100 S1 is the quad-core X3330 running at 2.66GHz with 6MB of cache.

The TX100 S1 has four DDR2 memory slots, maxing out at 8GB of memory; 1GB is the minimum that Fujitsu will ship, and 2GB is really the minimum required to run the Windows Server 2008 Foundation edition that comes preloaded on the box.

The tower box's six drive bays and on-board four-port SATA RAID 1 controller on the motherboard support the 3Gbps SATA 3.0 spec. The drives are not hot-pluggable (that costs money), and the drives are all 3.5-inch, 7200 RPM units - which means they offer the most inexpensive capacity available - and range in capacity from 160GB to 1TB.

One of the bays is used by a combo DVD/CD drive and another is available for an in-box tape backup. The server has three PCI Express slots (one x8, one x4, and one x1) plus a legacy PCI slot, and sports a single Gigabit Ethernet NIC.

The standard power supply in the box is a 300 watt unit rated at an 85 per cent efficiency. That's not great, but it is a little better than the power supplies traditionally used in tower boxes aimed at SMBs.

Fujitsu says that it has designed the airflow inside the box such that it runs silent, which makes it appropriate for office environments - your typical two-socket x64 server can make you go deaf or nuts or both after a few years, thanks to all of its whirring fans.

And rather than being compliant with the new Energy Star for servers 1.0 spec from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Fujitsu has certified the new server to be compliant with the Energy Star 5.0 spec for PCs to illustrate its energy efficiency. Go figure.

The TX100 S1 will support Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 and 2008, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Red Hat's Enterprise Linux. It also includes Fujitsu's own ServerView Suite of system management tools. If customers want to virtualize the box - which seems highly unlikely today, but will be more normal among SMBs at some point - they can choose VMware's ESX Server hypervisor.

Pricing for the TX100 S1 was not announced, but the earlier Econel 100 S2 sets a pretty low price bar, at £288.69 excluding VAT, over at UK distributor Misco. ®

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