Server Snapshots: Spotlight on Gateway

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Jan 2, 2007


Ed. Note: If you're looking for this week's Hardware Today, look no further. With the New Year comes a new look for ServerWatch's hardware coverage. We've given Hardware Today a new (and we believe) improved look. With this repackaging comes a new name: Server Snapshots.

From a design overhaul to AMD and dual-core chips, it's been a year of relentless change for Gateway servers.

Like Hardware Today, Server Snapshots will look at the OEMs and their wares as well as spotlight the organizations using them. But part of Server Snapshots' mission is to probe even deeper. Thus, in addition to the vendor profiles readers have come to know and love, the column will zoom in on individual products. Here, like elsewhere on the site, we welcome your feedback. If there is a server you'd like to see profiled, don't hesitate to contact us.

For those who have tuned into Hardware Today each week to read about the latest hardware trends, fear not. Many exciting articles about hardware trends are in the works for January and beyond. Be sure to check back to ServerWatch frequently. We doubt you'll be disappointed.

- AN

It's tough for OEMS that aren't established players in the server market. According to the most recent IDC server report, IBM, Dell, HP and Sun collectively account for 80 percent of server sales. With Fujitsu next at 6 percent, there isn't much room left over for the rest.

"Gateway struggles with line breadth, related services, and because they (like Apple) are not truly considered a server vendor yet," says analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Analyst Group. "However, the server offering seems to be nicely differentiated, as it offers good value in a specific space."

Not being one of the top server players, then, Gateway must keep busy to gain ground. In the previous Server Snapshot from March 2006, the OEM had refreshed its entire server line from the year before, added a new server (an entry-level tower), rolled out dual-core Xeon chips across most of its product line, and incorporated a variety of serial ATA (SATA) and SCSI drive options.

The subsequent 10 months have been equally busy.

"All of the new Gateway Servers have been completely redesigned from the ground up," says Marc Tanguay, Gateway server product manager. The change in this generation of servers from the last is significant."

Gone is the Gateway E-9315R, replaced in the 1U bracket by the E-9415R. The E-9415R has room for up to three hot-swap hard disk drives to accommodate RAID 5 and hot-swap redundant power supplies.

Even bigger news is the addition of an AMD dual-core processor option for several new models. This supplements Gateway's earlier Intel-only policy. The server chassis have been redesigned to accommodate both Intel and AMD motherboards, enabling Gateway customers to pick their processor platform preference, while the chassis remain consistent.

Recent Server Snapshots
Apple
Dell
Sun
HP
IBM
SGI
Fujitsu
Unisys

Gateway uses Intel Xeon 5100 Series CPUs and AMD Opteron 2000 Series in its dual-socket servers and AMD Opteron 8000 Series in its 4-ways. On the 4-way front, the Gateway E-9722R has been changed to AMD Opteron CPUs, and the height was reduced from 6U to 3U. That's four Opteron 8000 CPUs, 12 hot-swap SAS or SATA II hard disk drives, an optical drive, and up to 48GB of memory in a small package.

"We believe that the E9722 has the best feature set in the most compact size in the 4-way server market," says Tanguay.

Gateway also promised SAS nine months ago; it has since delivered.

"One of the primary benefits of SAS architecture is that it accommodates both SAS and SATA II drives in the same system, simultaneously," says Tanguay. "SAS performance and reliability is equal to enterprise SCSI drives, while SATA II provides the lowest cost per MB."

He reports high adoption rates of these drives, with customers buying, for example, two mirrored boot drives in a RAID Array 1 to run OS and applications, and adding three high-capacity SATA II drives in a RAID 5 Array for data storage.

Meanwhile, two 1U products (E-9422R and E-9522R) added an additional hot-swap drive, bringing the total to four. These now include hot-swap redundant fans to go along with the hot-swap redundant power supplies.

Across the entire range, Gateway has built-in improved system management capabilities, with integrated Gateway Lights Out (GLO). GLO is included standard in all new servers. It allows for a remote IP connection to the server through either a standard Web browser or command interface. It also provides power cycling (i.e., power-on, power-off and restart), as well as current system health indicators. An upgrade is available to add remote Keyboard/Video/Mouse (K/V/M) plus media redirect.

"This enables customers to take control of the server and work on it remotely, as if they were sitting right in front of the server, with redirection of input and storage devices," says Tanquay. "Remote K/V/M dramatically eases setup and installation time and saves travel costs."

Gateway designed these servers to include common parts wherever possible. Common parts help to ease deployment and lower the cost of holding spare parts reserves. Further, these new servers were designed with serviceability in mind. Toolless chassis and color-coded parts ease the upgrade and servicing process. Finally, Gateway's servers now have a different look and feel from drive carriers and blue LED indicator lights to everything in between.

Some Server Specs

Although Gateway is extending its reach into the 2U and 4U market, its IU models remain the company's best seller. With more drive and slot room, as well as hot swap features, its latest 1U rackmount machine sells well, primarily within the education, government, and midenterprise sectors.

The E-9422R is Gateway's first 1U rack-optimized server platform featuring support for up to two dual-core AMD Opteron 2000 Series processors and the NVIDIA MCP55 Pro chipset. It can also be equipped with optional AMD Opteron HE processors, which provide better CPU performance per watt for lower power servers that can cost less to run.

In the 1-processor value tower category, the E-9220T is popular among SMB customers, as well as with some midenterprise accounts, for use as remote office and project deployment servers. Its beginning list price of $699 makes it competitive with the boxes that the larger server manufacturers offer.

To entice more buyers to its larger model, Gateway has added a wealth of enhancements. The E-9522R Server, for example, is a 2U rack-optimized server platform featuring Opteron 2000 processors, the NVIDIA chipset, optional Opteron HE processors, four NICs, six SAS or SATA II hard drives, and five PCI slots. When using SATA II drives, the E-9522R has a storage capacity of up to 4.5TB.

On the Intel side, the Gateway E-9520T Performance Tower has up to two dual-core Intel Xeon 5100 processors combined with the Intel 5000P chipset and fully buffered DIMM memory (FB DIMM). It also offers six expansion slots and room for up to 7.5TB of internal storage.

2007 Plans

In early January, Gateway plans to begin shipping quad-core Intel Xeon 5300 series CPUs (once released, AMD quad-core will be drop-in compatible with the currently shipping AMD servers). This month, the company is also introducing drives at higher capacity points — 300GB 15k SAS and 750GB SATA II hard drives.

"In addition to the higher capacity drives and quad-core CPUs, Gateway will introduce a hand-held LCD management interface called SMIL," says Tanguay.

System Management Interface LCD (SMIL) is hot-pluggable into rackmount and performance towers, providing health status information, system information (e.g., name, IP address, and MAC address), and helping to pinpoint system faults (like identifying bank numbers for a failed memory stick).

"Think of SMIL as a portable management system with information displayed on a full color 240x240 LCD screen," says Tanguay. "With the hot-plug feature, we see IT Managers using SMIL as a walk-up console that can be switched easily from server to server."

Gateway Servers, At a Glance

Server
Chassis
Processors
Maximum Memory
Operating System
Base Price
E-9520-T Tower (5U rack option) Dual-core Intel Xeon 5100 Series 32GB Microsoft Windows 2003 Server $2,199
E-9425R 1U rackmount Up to two dual-core Intel Xeon 5100 Series 32GB Microsoft Windows 2003 Server $1,849
E-9525R 2U rackmount Up to two dual-core Xeon 5100 Series 32GB Microsoft Windows 2003 Server $1,899
E-9422R 1U rackmount Up to two AMD dual-core Opteron 2000 Series 24GB Microsoft Windows 2003 Server $1,799
E-9522R 2U rackmount Up to two AMD dual-core Opteron 2000 Series 24GB Microsoft Windows 2003 Server $1,849

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