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Fastest £1,000 server – what happened? July 12, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in One Grand Server, performance.
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A couple of people have asked me recently what happened to that “fastest Oracle server for a grand” idea I had last year, after all I did announce I had bought the machine.

{Update – it came back.}
Well, a couple of things happened. Firstly, what was a small job for a client turned into a much more demanding job for a client – not so much mentally harder as time-consuming harder and very time consuming it was. So the playing had to go on hold, the client comes first. The server sat in the corner of the study, nagging me to play with it, but it remained powered down.
Secondly, when the work life quietened down last month and I decided to spend a weekend getting that server set up I hit an issue. I turned on the server and it turned itself straight off. It than rested for 5 seconds and turned itself back on for half a second – and then straight off. It would cycle like that for as long as I was willing to let it.

OK, duff power switch, mother board fault, something not plugged in right, PSU not reaching stable voltage… I opened the case and checked everything was plugged in OK and found the manufacturer had covered everything with that soft resin to hold things in place. I pressed on all the cards etc in hope but no, it was probably going to have to go back. It is still in warranty, the manufacturer can fix it.

So I rang the manufacturer and had the conversation. They were not willing to try and diagnose over the phone so I had to agree to ship it back to them to be fixed {I did not go for on-site support as the only time I did, with Evesham Micros, they utterly refused to come out to fix the problem. Mind you, it turns out they were counting down the last week or two before going bust and, I suspect, knew this}. I shipped it back and the waiting began. Emails ignored, hard to get on touch over the phone. Over three weeks on and they only started looking at the machine last Friday (they claim).

On the positive side, this delay means that solid state storage is becoming very affordable and I might be able to do some more interesting things within my budget.
On the bad side the technology has moved on and I could get a better server for the same money now, but that is always the case. Mine does not have the latest Sandy Bridge Intel processor for example. Also, I have time now to work on it, I hope not to have time next month as I’d like to find some clients to employ me for a bit!

I better go chase the manufacturer. If it is not fixed and on its way back very, very soon then they will be off my list of suppliers and I’ll be letting everyone know how good their support isn’t.

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Comments»

1. rnm1978 - July 12, 2011

Good to see an update, I’d been wondering about this.
The delay playing with it must have only amplified the frustration one gets in kit being out of date as soon as it’s purchased.

Name and shame bad customer service I say!

mwidlake - July 13, 2011

Well yesterday they said they had finally looked at the machine and replaced the faulty motherboard. All in all they are currently no where good enough to recommend and just about not poor enough to name and shame. So I’ll hold off.

2. Michael Cox - July 12, 2011

Read this with a wry smile, there’s never enough time to fit it all in.

I was planning a decent piece of kit with virtualization but work keeps getting in the way !

I tried to get a full OBIEE setup going but never got round to finishing it and my list of ‘homework’ from my day job never mind about topics from ICC or the Unix sig grows by the week.

Of course if I retired I have plenty of time to get it all done !

mwidlake - July 13, 2011

You are right Mike, I am struggling to keep up on all the things I want to do and I am spending all day at it this week!

Onthe vurtualization side, I had Laptop Envy last week. A friend had a new machine with an Intel i7 in it, four cores and hyperthreading so it showed as 8 cpus. Add on the two 1TB hard discs and the 16GB of memory (or was it 32?) and he was able to run several version of Oracle at the same time under VM and the machine coped just fine. Potential for a serious RAC setup in a bag. Having said that, his power brick was so massive we joked it was actually a UPS and the machine looked to weigh a few kg too… still, I wanted one.

3. David Harper - July 13, 2011

You might want to buy your next machine from World of Computers in Milton. Their prices are very reasonable, they have excellent customer service, and they’re local to you. I’ve bought my last four machines from them, and I plan to buy the next four there too.

Oh, and I’m *not* being paid to say that. ;-)

mwidlake - July 13, 2011

I remember you mentioning them to me a few years back David, so you are constant in your appreciation of their services. I was going to argue that I was after the best possible price as part of my little project, but on all of 10 seconds of reflection I can see that if this local company was within 10% of the price and provided the level of service you suggest, I would come out on top. Having a faulty component or machine fixed in a few days as opposed to a few weeks and maybe getting more advice on components etc, after they are experts in building machines and I am not :-)

4. Log Buffer #229, A Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs | The Pythian Blog - July 15, 2011

[...] Martin Widlake shares the story of fastest Oracle server for a grand. [...]


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