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hardware Archives - AWS Managed Services by Anchor

How hard is it to set the service tag on a Dell motherboard?

By | Technical | 4 Comments

Dell is a weird, weird place. A little while ago we had a server with a bad motherboard, one of the 5-volt lines was out of whack. No big deal, we’d just get a replacement part and swap it out (getting a Dell technician into Globalswitch datacentre is more hassle than it’s worth). Our datacentre monkeytechnician replaced the motherboard without incident, but they did notice that there was now no service tag attached to the motherboard. This isn’t a problem, but it means the DRAC card can’t report its identity properly. We asked Dell for advice on writing the service tag to the new hardware, and they promised to send through details. That evening we received two emails from two different Dell support staff, each with very different instructions on…

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Shiny new hardware: Dell R720xd

By | Technical | No Comments

We just received a shipment from Dell, it’s our new VPS hardware! Even the once-mighty leviathan is feeling rather humble these days. She’s got a pair of hyperthreaded octo-core Xeons (32 logical cores, rawr!), 384GiB RAM and 15.6TB of bare disk capacity! Team that with a pair of 10Gbps network ports, a pair of 1Gbps ports, H710 RAID card and the latest iDRAC 7 for management (much improved over the iDRAC 6), and you’ve got one hell of a machine. Unlike most of our servers, which come in pairs, this one was received as a single unit. Once our usual burn-in process has been done (expected to take quite a while), it’ll be evaluated for suitability as a replacement for the R510 chassis model that we currently use for VPS…

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Noop I/O scheduling with SSD storage

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Solid State Drives (SSDs) are not new in the server world, but they’re seen a somewhat limited takeup due to their high cost per gigabyte of storage. This has been changing as prices continue to drop, and we’re now at the point where SSDs represent a viable option for primary storage of high-value data that is read and written heavily. While SSDs are a drop-in replacement for traditional hard drives (HDDs) when it comes to servers, their behaviour and performance characteristics are fundamentally different. This means that the disk-access scheduling algorithms that we’ve developed over time, originally designed for rotational media, simply don’t work for SSDs. We recently observed some interesting behaviour as a result of changing disk access schedulers, which we thought we’d share with you here. The difference…

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An introduction to hardware-assisted virtualisation techniques

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Our last post on the benefits of virtualisation technology raised hackles with some readers in discussion forums, particularly regarding flexibility and performance. The flexibility that we talk about is purely in the context of being a service provider – that you can use all your resources immediately when you have a bare-metal box is missing the point. We sell virtual private servers, so it’s VPS upgrades that matter. That’s not really interesting though, we’re going to talk about performance optimisations for virtual machines (VMs) instead. In recent years we’ve seen various hardware extensions introduced to reduce the overheads incurred by virtualisation, with the trend being to push virtualisation functionality into the CPU and hardware subsystems, relieving the hypervisor of much of the magic required to make things work transparently. We’ll…

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Supermicro hardware up for grabs

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In the last year or so Anchor has been making a strong push towards energy-efficient Dell hardware and VPSes. As a result, we find ourselves with a collection of older Supermicro servers on our hands that still perform well, but aren’t viable to sell to customers any more. Rather than scrapping them and foisting more e-waste on the environment, we’d prefer to send them to a good home where a geek or hacker can make use of them. If this sounds like you, we’d love you to have a gander at our ebay listings. To whet your appetite, here’s a sample of what you can expect. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the hardware. N.B. Nyanserver may not be as nyan as shown, photograph…

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Tales of Hardware – IBM x3650

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All the servers Anchor buys are from Supermicro. Most people won’t have heard of them, but they’re a sizeable hardware vendor that also does some OEM gear. Supermicro certainly doesn’t carry the mindshare of other big brands like HP, Dell, et al., but we chose them because their stuff is reliable and affordable – we focus on the things that actually matter, rather than some enterprise-y idea of sticking with big brands that you trust – “noone ever got fired for buying IBM” they say. Actually, hold that thought for a moment.

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