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Hardware Today: Gateway Server Snapshot

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Mar 13, 2006


In the seven months since Hardware Today last looked at Gateway, the OEM has been surprisingly busy upgrading its relatively small product line.

In the seven months since Hardware Today last looked at Gateway, the OEM released a new server, added a dual-core Xeon option to various products, and upgraded its storage offerings.

Gateway released a new server, the E-9220T, as an entry-level dual-core tower, and added dual-core Xeon chips to various other products. It also introduced more serial ATA (SATA) and SCSI drive options.

"We have refreshed our entire server product line with support for dual-core CPU's," says Tim Diefenthaler, senior director server product management. "This offers our customer base increased performance to run their CPU-intensive server applications. They can also scale better with 2P and 4P servers, and it delivers a better return on investment."

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According to the Gateway's tests, the Hyper-Threaded nature of dual-core chips increases server performance more than 50 percent compared to the Xeon processors Gateway previously used.

Keep It Simple

Unlike some vendors whose server offerings scroll on page after page, Gateway keeps things simple. It offers five basic servers. Within that simple template, however, a host of options are available.

Perhaps wisely, the company does not attempt to go higher than 4-way. Much of its business, in fact, is in the low end — some 2-way and a whole lot of 1-way servers.

It's no wonder, then, that the latest model, the E-9220T, is a 1-way tower. It is available with an Intel Celeron or Intel Pentium 4 dual-core processor and thus offers from 2.66 GHz to 3.2GHz in performance. The server also features Gateway's two-fan BTX design, providing quiet operation and lowered thermals from the unit's dual 120 MM fans.

The base model is only $599. However, if you factor in other options, such as up to 2 TB of disk capacity, RAID 5 with hot spare, and redundant power, the price quickly rises. According to Gateway's Web site, if you opt for Microsoft Windows Small Business Server; upgrade to dual core; and add more memory, some SATA drives, tape backup, and three years of support, the price reaches a more substantial $2,681.

For all that you are getting, however, it still compares well against the products of many other OEMs.

"Gateway is offering a best-in-class entry-level server with high availability features and system customization generally only found in higher-level or much more-expensive systems," says Diefenthaler.

The other major new offering from Gateway since our last snapshot is the E-9415R. This rack server is designed for data-intensive tasks and can scale up well enough for use in ERP and CRM applications. The E-9415R supports 800 MHz front-side bus and up to 2.2 MB L2 cache. OS-wise, it can run all of Microsoft's, as well as NetWare 6.5, Red Hat Linux Enterprise 3.0, and SUSE Linux Enterprise 9.0.

Has the addition of the E-9220T, the E-9415R, and the dual-core roll out across its server line changed buyer demographics in the past year? Diefenthaler believes so.

"We have acquired new customers in both the business and public sector taking advantage of the new Gateway differentiated feature set, including the E-9415R &3151 1U/2P SATA with redundant power and the entry E-9220T tower with redundant power," he says. "The entry tower, in particular, has also won many departmental opportunities with its redundant power and 2TB capacity."

Gateway Goes Storage

To help persuade more organizations to try the Gateway server brand, the company has been offering more storage options. It's hardly taking on EMC, but at the same time, Gateway has assembled a nice combination of basic and attractively priced storage gear, while partnering with established storage vendors to broaden its range.

It has, for example, a new DLT-V4 tape drive that has a total compressed capacity of 320 GB for $999. It also offers Veritas/Symantec Backup Exec 10D, which comes with continuous data protection so changes to files are continuously recorded and transmitted, as opposed to being updated during the standard nightly or weekly backup window.

The most successful Gateway storage product, however, is the Gateway 840 SATA storage-area network (SAN). This is a 2U 12 SATA bay enclosure with integrated RAID, redundant power, and fans that allows you to daisy-chain as many as three 840's together for a total capacity of 24 TB. The unit ships with a SAN management console to setup and monitor a SAN environment. The Gateway 840 connects to the host with either SCSI or Fibre Channel.

Complementing these external storage offerings, is the Gateway 823 LTO-3 Autoloader.

"Using the Gateway 840 and Gateway 823 makes a great Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape solution with Veritas KVM or 10D software solutions," says Diefenthaler.

Gateway also made a smart move by striking up a strategic partnership with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS). This is already opening up new doors in terms of enterprise server sales. As a result of its relationship with a major storage array vendor, Gateway is winning many more SAN opportunities using the combination of its own servers and HDS TagmaStor SANs.

Gateway, too, has done a good job of adding SATA technology into its E-9220T, E-9510T, and E-9415R servers. Diefenthaler reports that more than 50 percent of Gateway's 1U/2P mix has 500 GB SATA drives. That, he say, makes it the only vendor to offer a 1U 2P server with SCSI, SATA, and redundant power.

"Customers like the additional capacity SATA offers for their non-transactional applications," says Diefenthaler. "Gateway is continuing to make progress with its storage offering and will have more new storage products midyear."

Coming Soon

What's in the pipeline for the rest of the year? The company is about to roll out the latest SCSI technology: serial attached storage (SAS). According to Diefenthaler, SAS will be available in all new Gateway servers in the second half of 2006.

"SAS brings flexibility to server design with the ability to offer SAS or SATA drives across our server product line," he says.

In addition, Diefenthaler notes that the company will be refreshing the product line with new Intel Blackford technology as soon as it is available. Blackford is said to be a high-performance chipset that will work in conjunction with next-generation dual-core Intel Xeon processors.

Gateway Servers, At a Glance

Server
Description
Processor Choices
No. of Processors
Base Price
E-9220T New, entry-level dual-core tower with up to 2 TB of expansion room, optional RAID 5 with hot spare, and hot swap redundant power; uses new BTX Chassis technology with lower thermal and less noise Celeron or P4 dual-core processor, 2.66 GHz to 3.2 GHz (256 KB and 2 MB cache) 1 $599
E-9510T Workgroup and enterprise tower server with flexibility and performance, hot swap redundant cooling, and optional redundant power; new Intel dual-core processor option along with option for SATA or SCSI hard drives Dual-core Xeon Processor, 2.8 GHz to 3.8 GHz (1 MB and 2 x 2 MB cache) 1 to 2 $1,199
E-9415R High-performance 1U rack server with high-availability features, including hot-swap redundant power supplies and RAID-5 reliability; new Intel dual-core processor option along with option for SATA or SCSI hard drives Dual-core Xeon processor, 2.8GHz to 3.8GHz (1 MB and 2 x 2 MB cache) 1 to 2 $1,299
E-9515R Scalable 2U rack server with high availability and performance, hot swap redundant cooling and optional redundant power; features Intel dual-core processor and expansion capabilities with six PCI slots and six hard drive bays Dual-core Xeon processor, 2.8 GHz to 3.8 GHz (1 MB and 2 x 2 MB cache) 1 to 2 $1,399
9715 4-way rack server(or comparable tower configuration) providing maximum uptime for mission-critical applications and environments. Offers new dual-core MP processors, hot swap redundant cooling, and redundant power Quad MP Xeon dual-core processor, 3.0 GHz to 3.66 GHz (1 MB or 8 MB cache, 2 x 4MB ) 1, 2, or 4 $4,999

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