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Has anyone purchased and managed servers from SiliconMechanics.

I absolutely love the huge number of system configuration they offer and they unbelievable low cost.

Are the servers designed well?

Anyone have any experience using SiliconMechanics?

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3 Answers 3

I manage a small cluster of 6 R266-SAS and 4 R257 machines, all purchased in December 2007. During that time, I've had only one hardware failure - an while upgrading IPMI firmware on one unit, it became unresponsive and after rebooting the physical machine it wouldn't start up without removing the IPMI daughtercard. So far in 18 months, I haven't had a single power supply or disk fail. (I'm probably cursing myself by writing that!) They've still got a fair amount of service life left in them, but I've been very pleased with the burn-in testing making sure everything I received hasn't had a single early death.

From a support perspective, I've been happy with Silicon Mechanics. I'm based in Seattle and they're about a 40 minute drive north, so I actually visited their offices before purchasing. The R266 units were very new and at the time of our order, they didn't have battery backup units for the RAID card that fit in the case, so they offered to complete the order, and meet us in our datacenter a few weeks later to install the batteries and reconfigure the RAID cards to allow write-back caching. I don't think you'll get that kind of support if you're not local with a decent-sized order, but I can say their email and phone support is also great.

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Will you continue to purchase from SiliconMechanics? Who else do you purchase hardware from? –  AbLincon Jun 1 '09 at 12:27
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Yes, we'll probably continue to purchase from them. That's the majority of our hardware; the not-Silicon Mechanics components of our infrastructure include some Cisco, Foundry (now Broadcom), and CoyotePoint gear, most of which were purchased through resellers like CDW. Like many, we're taking a hard look at AWS and seeing if it's a better deal for some of our usage, but I strongly suspect we'll have some physical hardware presence for the quite a while. –  natacado Jun 1 '09 at 23:39

I know a few folks who swear by them, and for my next round of server purchases, it's who I'm planning to use.

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I had a bad experience with them. The rabbit ears broke off of both my servers since they were made of plastic.

Also, the "hardware raid" was actually software raid. I had an unhappy exchange with their tech support about that.

This was a few years back, and I have heard that they are better now. I don't know, because I stopped buying their stuff.

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rabbit ear on a server? Also, you mention that their hardware raid is actually software raid - how is that possible. you get to select the hardware raid controller to be installed. did they not provide the hardware raid controller you selected in your purchase? –  AbLincon Jun 1 '09 at 12:25
    
This was several years ago. If I had the server model numbers handy, I'd give them to you, but yes, it came with hardware raid that was really software raid. The SM tech and I decided that using Linux MD devices would be better than addressing non-mirrored disks. –  Matt Simmons Jun 1 '09 at 14:45
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my google-fu is weak.. what are "rabbit ears" in the context of a server? –  warren Sep 28 '09 at 16:03
    
"rabbit ears" are the (hopefully) metal clips on the sides of the front of the case that contain screw holes for mounting in a rack. They're more common on smaller network equipment, but some servers have them too. –  Matt Simmons Sep 28 '09 at 21:19
    
It also appears that none of their storage server config options support 10GE or FC. That's a bit of a deal breaker. Now i'm not so peeved at not being able to find a UK reseller. –  Tom O'Connor Apr 6 '10 at 13:35