Netweb SBE 710E-R42 Blade Server Enclosure

by April 1, 2010 0 comments

The Netweb SBE 710E-R42 is a blade enclosure from Netweb
technologies which supports 10 full height blades in a 7U frame. The blades
which the enclosure can support can be a mix and match from Intel or AMD-based
CPUs. The blade enclosure is powered by four 1400 Watt power supplies which have
been integrated with the 8 cooling fans in such a way that a cooling unit with 2
cooling fan modules sports a power socket.

This enclosure from Netweb has more than ten different
options of blade configurations to choose from. RAMfor
instance can vary from 48 GB (6 DIMM slots) to 192 GB (24 DIMM slots). There are
many options to choose from in terms of RAM as the range varies from a low of 48
GB ( 6 DIMM slots ) to as high as 192 GB (24 DIMM slots).

We received 3 blades from Netweb along with the enclosure,
all based on Intel processors.

One of the blades was powered by 2 Intel Xeon E5410 2.33
GHz processors with an option of populating six 2.5” HDD bays. It also had two
36 GB SAS drives, 6 DIMM slots  out of which 2 were populated with 2 GB RAM.

The other Intel Xeon powered blade had an option of
plugging in two 3.5” HDDs, but came with one 250 GB HDD. It had an option to to
populate 8 DIMM slots but came with only 4 GB.

The third blade, containing the Intel Xeon processor, had
similar specs as the first. Six 2.5” drive bays populated with four 36 GB SAS
drives came along with 4 GB RAM. This blade, like the first had 8 DIMM slots
which can be populated as when required.

Two LEDs are located at the top right of the enclosure
above the right most blade. The left LED provides Power Status information and
the right LED glows only if there’s a fault in the enclosure. The blade servers
have 4 LED  indicators on the front which indicate basic info. These LEDs are
for  power, KVM control, network control, and one which glows whenever there is
a problem with the blade. These LEDs act as the first point of indicators for
basic information about blade functioning.

The rear of the chassis has four pairs of cooling fans
integrated with PSUs, one redundant KVM, and a GbE switch.

The Netweb chassis alone weighs about 37Kg and after
populating it with the blades it will weigh about 105 Kg. It is important to
note that a fully populated blade chassis combines the weight of the chassis,
blades, power units, cooling fans, switches, KVMs, etc. The average weight of
the blade we received was 6.75 Kg. These specifications need to be kept in mind
when the racks and channels are being designed, to prevent any mishaps.

Ease of setup
Setting up the Netweb chassis and the blades is fairly easy. We simply need
to power on the chassis and start plugging in the blades. Now, a physical boot
of the blade is required. Press the KVM boot on the front of the blade. This
triggers the blade to be displayed on the remote login of the server. From here,
we can provide a .iso image of the operating system to be installed onto the
blade. After the operating system has been installed, an upgrade of the firmware
and BIOS is all that is required for the blade to be up and running.

Mid-plane info
As the name suggests, the mid-plane sits in the middle of the blade
enclosure and allows the blade servers to be connected from the front, and the
power supplies, network switches, and cooling fans to be plugged in from the

The blade container has an easy sliding lid design to
cover the components. It does not take much time to remove or place it back.

The mid-plane also connects the Gigabit(GbE) switches to
Network Interface Controller, the Chassis Management Module(CMM) to the USB
devices and the InfiniBand Switch to the Host Channel Adapters. These devices
connect to the mid-plane through high density connectors that provide both
signal and power. Such a configuration reduces the amount of system cabling and
simplifies the task of setting up the system. It provides an alternative signal
route to support redundant power, CMM, network and IPMI functions.

Hot Swappability and redundancy
Hot swapping functionality is available for cooling fans, PSUs (onboard fan
modules), hard drives of blades and the blade servers themselves. The Ethernet
Switches are redundant as they have been coupled with another unit of the same
value. The enclosure is cooled by four twin cooling fan units which have been
integrated with a power supply socket. These power supplies are 4 (3+1
redundant) in nature, thus bringing the total number of cooling fans to 8 ( 6+2
redundant). There is redundancy in terms of the network switch and the CMM
(chassis management module) which has been discussed in the network fabric

The network fabric
The blade enclosure sports a 1Gb Ethernet switch module or 1Gb Pass-through
Module (optional) or 1/10 Gb Ethernet switch. This is a redundant unit for a
similar unit can be installed to provide fail safe networking capability to the
enclosure. The Netweb chassis sports a CMM which can be made redundant by adding
another unit just beside it. This is the module which is used to connect the
chassis to the network for effective management. The bottom right of the chassis
provides the option of either plugging in an InfiniBand Switch or a 10 Gb
Pass-through Module (optional).

Each blade sports a KVM connector. These can be used to
plug in a monitor, USB keyboard and mouse providing an option of physical
control over individual blades. The Netweb chassis does not contain any LCD
panel or any immediate info panel, like other blade enclosures. The blades can
be provided a unique IP address. This facilitates remote network access.

Blade management software
The Netweb management interface is a software based console which provides
all information on the blade chassis, the inserted blades, PSUs, cooling fans,
network cards, etc. The information regarding the interior temperature, fan
speed, network IP etc are all available under their respective tabs. This
facilitates identification of problems and troubleshooting from the console. The
console is fairly easy to operate and does not require high levels of expertise.

You can easily find information about the power
consumed by different blades through this remote console.

Power consumption
After powering on the Blade enclosure and all rear components (CMM, fans,
PSUs, I/O modules, etc) plugged in, the SBE 710E-R42 consumed around 105 Watts
of power. This power consumption is lesser than Dell PowerEdge M1000e. Please
note this power consumption is of the chassis sans any of the blades. After
plugging in the blades, we measured the power consumption of each blade remotely
using the CMM. It showed the power consumed by the three blades as 400 watts,
150 watts and 225 watts respectively.

Netweb SBE 710E-R42 Blade Server Enclosure

Temperature control
When any of the redundant cooling fans malfunctions, the temp inside the
blade chassis goes up due to the instability in cooling. The change in
temperature can be observed from the chassis Management Module (CMM). We created
a fan failure scenario by pulling the fan out of the chassis. In case of the
Netweb blade chassis, the internal power meter measures this change in
temperature. This is followed by an automatic instruction to the fans to
increase their RPM by bringing the internal temperature back to normal. The
point to be noted here is that with an increase in RPM of fans, their power
consumption goes up and that increases the noise they produce.

Bottomline: The Netweb enclosure has lesser features
than Dell PowerEdge. For instance, it does not have a fiber optic channel nor
does it have an LCD panel. Also, the fans and PSUs can only be replaced in
pairs. But it is a good buy nevertheless for smaller data centers.

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