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Used IBM x3650 M4: is it worth it? Suggestions and advices on the best configuration.

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Hi there,

I'm looking for a used server in order to build a development/testing environment for some high performance PostgreSQL and Spark applications. After a long research on Internet and based on my (limited) experience on such machines (I use 3 different servers of this kind, all of them bought before 2013), I decided to go with a IBM x3650 M4 machine. The budget is limited to 2500€.

The best offer I could get is the following:

  •  2 x Intel Xeon E5-2690 (20MB cache, 8 core each, 2.90Ghz, TurboBoost@3.8Ghz)
  •  96GB RAM (12 x 8GB PC3-10600 @ 1333Mhz, ECC, Registered, Low Voltage)
  •  IBM ServeRaid M5110e RAID controller card
  •  2 x 900W AC Platinum power supplies
  •  2 x 146GB SAS 15k rpm HDD 2.5"

This will cost me 1200$ + 250$ shipping = 1450$ (about 1400€).

I would like to add a secondary backplane (about 80€), some empty HDD SFF trays and some spare fans (34€ each).

 

RAM

Based on my typical work-load (datawarehouse and parallel processing), should I upgrade to PC3-12800 (1600Mhz) RAM? From what I understood, I will gain in bandwidth but will loose 2 CAS latency points and will increase energy consumption. This upgrade will also cost me 300$ more with same overall RAM size (96GB). The specifications of the two supported type of RAM are:

  •  96GB (12 x 8GB) PC3-10600 @ 1333Mhz, CAS=9, Low Voltage (1.35V) (about 300$)
  •  96GB (12 x 8GB) PC3-12800 @ 1600Mhz, CAS=11, Low Voltage (1.5V) (about 600$)

 

STORAGE

This server allows to host 16 x 2.5" HDDs or SSDs by adding a secondary backplane. I bought 4 x Crucial MX300 525GB SSD (best price/performance using various discounts and black-friday offers) and the server ships with 2 x 146GB 15k rpm HDDs. My idea is to:

  • Buy other 2 Crucial MX300 in order to reach good performances in RAID 10 (6 total SSDs), and
  • buy 4 "garbage" HHDs that will be used as a stage transition area for data

Will the built-in ServeRaid M5110e card be able to handle 6 SSDs and 6 HDDs? It has 512MB RAM. Should I buy a different RAID controller? Should I use a software RAID? What do you suggest?

 

POWER CONSUMPTION

On full throttle (both CPU running at 100%) using this configuration, how can I estimate the power consumption? I know that CPUs are 135W each and that SSDs consume 80% lower than HDDs. I also know that a 900W PSU suffices and the minimum requirement for those CPUs is 750W.

 

IS IT WORTH IT?

Today, is it worth it to buy a similar configuration for less than 2000$? I compared Dell R720 and HP Proliant G8 (from the same era and generation) and this IBM model seems the more affordable and valid solution. For the next generation of servers (Intel E5-26xx V2 family) I should add at least 1500$ but RAM goes up to 1866Mhz and cache size to 30MB with better power consumption.

 

Thank you all. Hope to have posted this in the right section of the forum.

 Pietro Pugni

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I don't have any hands on experience with IBM servers. The one thing though with any server is openness if you want to use a variety of drives or add-ons that may not be on the HCL. Kevin would know more but Dell, HP and Lenovo have been pretty good there, and of course the white box guys like Supermicro. We've been very happy with the Dell and HP servers we have. 

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At this pricepoint if budget is a concern I'd lean heavily towards a whitebox server. Go with something that supports newer components and get a bit more life from the system. Also not having to sort out support contracts for software/firmware updates is a huge plus.

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