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Three Xeon E5 Server Systems From Intel, Tyan, And Supermicro

Intel R2208GZ4GC: Layout And Overview

Third-up is Intel's R2208GZ4GC "Grizzly Pass" kit, which the company touts as being highly customizable. To that end, we see that the front of the chassis is partitioned off into three sections to facilitate different drive options. The kit came with both 10 GbE and LSI RAID controller options, which I removed for testing and price comparisons. Our test mule has eight 2.5" hot-swappable bays, but the chassis does allow for a second block of hot-swappable bays if you want to configure it for 16.

Like Supermicro and Tyan, Intel makes room for a slim optical drive. Most 2U enclosures designed with high density in mind sacrifice this space (along with front-panel I/O) to cram as many as 24 drives into the front of the chassis. All three of the samples sent to us include two front-panel USB ports and a slim optical bay, though. Whereas the Supermicro chassis also features a front-accessible DE-9 serial connector, Intel's solution includes an HD-15 VGA connector. Intel's front-panel connections are tailored for KVM.

It's pretty apparent that Intel is using a heavily customized implementation, and its PCB is absolutely huge. Officially, the S2600GZ4 motherboard is a proprietary 16.5 x 16.5" form factor. Just to give you an idea of this board's size, a typical quad-socket AMD G34-based platform with 32 DIMM slots fits in a 16.5" x 13" form factor. The benefit of such a large PCB is that you can see Intel's enclosure is built to exploit the additional size.

There are five 80 mm fans in the middle of the chassis that blow air through thermally-sensitive components. A clear plastic duct guides air through passive CPU heat sinks. Whereas Supermicro's shroud channeled air all the way through to the back of its enclosure, Intel employs a shorter duct, since its chassis uses much of the space around back for PCIe rises and power supplies.

Two 80 PLUS Platinum-rated 750 W power supplies connect directly to the motherboard. This is a significant difference between Intel's implementation and the competition from Tyan and Supermicro, which utilize an intermediate distribution board for power. 

Both redundant power supplies are removed by pushing on the teal lever and pulling the handle back. Intel uses a side-by-side configuration and does exhaust air from above the PSUs.