by May 1, 1999 0 comments

The Cerebra server has an Intel N400BX motherboard which
can support two PII processors. It has an impressive configuration with 256 MB SDRAM,
expandable to 512 MB, an onboard Symbios UltraSCSI card, a Mylex RAID controller card, and
three IBM 4.2 GB SCSI hard drives.

As the server contains three different BIOSs to boot from,
namely those for system, the onboard SCSI card, and the RAID controller card, it takes
time to start up. The server can also be configured to boot off a remote agent with its
LANDesk remote agent.

The server we reviewed came with Win NT Server 4 preloaded.
However, to see how easy it is to configure the server from scratch, we re-installed
everything. We installed Win NT on it, both with and without the RAID controller card. As
NT doesn’t come with drivers for either the RAID controller or the SCSI card, we had
to use the startup disks to install it. Otherwise, it doesn’t recognize the hardware.
When installing without the RAID card, the SCSI card drivers are required. When installing
it with the RAID card, the SCSI drivers are not needed. In that case, just the RAID
drivers are required.

The server comes with a bootable CD that contains utilities
for creating boot disks for Win NT, SCO OpenServer, and IntranetWare. It also creates
driver disks for onboard network, SCSI, and display adapters. The onboard network card is
an Intel 82558 10/100 Ethernet adapter, and the display card is from Cirrus Logic with 2
MB VRAM.

As the server comes with an IDE CD-ROM drive, special
attention is required when installing NT server on it. When booting off the NT startup
disks, you’ve to manually add the IDE ATAPI drivers for the CD drive. These are
located in the startup disks only, so you don’t need to hunt for them elsewhere.

Configuring RAID on the server is slightly complex and time
consuming. But the documentation provided with it is very good, and gives detailed
step-by-step instructions. The online support for the Mylex (www.mylex.com) RAID card is
also very good. They reply to queries within 24 hours on e-mail.

Cerebra Server

A dual PII server with
hardware RAID.
Rs 232,000
Features:
Utility CD for creating driver disks for all onboard hardware; dual channel
SCSI card supports up to 16 devices.
Pros: Good performance,hot-swapa-
ble hard drives.
Cons: Configuring RAID is time consuming.
Source: Cerebra Integrated Technologies, No 24, 12th Main,
1st Block, Rajajinagar, Bangalore 560010. Tel: 80-3323054, 3320990, Fax: 3327313 RQS#
E48

The server has four PCI and two ISA slots for adding
additional boards. Since the most common components, like the network, display, and SCSI
are onboard, these slots are more than sufficient for further expansion. The server also
has a board management controller for monitoring various system management events. It can
log all information into onboard non-volatile memory area, which can then be collected by
system management tools like Intel LANDesk Server Manager. This feature monitors the
system temperature, over-voltage conditions, etc. It even has wake-on-LAN support that
wakes up the server upon a request to the network card.

The server’s performance is very fast. Once the
initial hurdle of configuring RAID, and adding drivers is through, rest of the
installation zips along. It can be used for a variety of purposes, including file and
print, intranet, or e-mail, and comes with three-year onsite warranty.

The server is suitable for networks consisting of 300 or
more nodes. My wish list for the server would be a well-compiled restoration CD, instead
of the umpteen driver floppies that come with it. Overall, a fast machine for small
networks that’s worth its price.

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