Author Topic: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers  (Read 11982 times)

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Online EEVblog

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EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« on: May 20, 2016, 02:24:07 pm »
Dumpster diving time!
Dave fishes out some Apple Xserve rack mount server computers and tears them down.

 

Offline kc8apf

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2016, 02:45:03 pm »
Ah, the memories of prototype Xserves with _no_ fan control and the bridge board coming loose before they added the clips.  At one point during that internship, I assembled 12 of them out of junk prototype parts and then used them to run memory controller simulations.  Please destroy those things in a fiery death for me.
 

Offline uncle_bob

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2016, 04:08:23 pm »
Hi

At least in this part of the world, much newer servers go for around $100 or less. Even there, each time a new batch comes out of the local prison (no that's not a typo), it's power consumption numbers push the previous generation right into the mud price wise. More or less ... hmmm ... old one costs me >$10 a month to run ... new one costs ~$4. For what ever reason (likely the power math) the Federal IT empire dumps them on the market after about 4 to 6 years of use.

Bob
 

Offline davidmc

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2016, 06:04:22 pm »
Just happened to see this photo same day as the Video, but a pair of XServes very much like this are in the OpenBSD test rack for testing their powerpc port.
(middle on left, 3rd from bottom on right)

http://www.openbsd.org/images/rack2009.jpg
 

Offline stmdude

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2016, 06:55:07 pm »
For what ever reason (likely the power math) the Federal IT empire dumps them on the market after about 4 to 6 years of use.

Most likely because the support contracts ran out. Getting new contracts for old hardware is about the same price as getting new hardware with support contracts.

Power is sometimes a factor, but not really electricity bill related. All that power goes into heat (in one way or another), which taxes the AC in the server-rooms. Cooling datacenters is _expensive_.
 

Offline Markybhoy

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2016, 07:20:45 pm »
Shame it wasnt the intel cpu's seen a few people using them as a poor mans mac pro.

https://youtu.be/XUbCywNtyF0
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2016, 07:58:22 pm »
I'm guessing they slide out of the cover like that so you can do basic service jobs without taking them out of the rack.

 

Offline sync

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2016, 08:27:37 pm »
I'm guessing they slide out of the cover like that so you can do basic service jobs without taking them out of the rack.
Looking at the video it's really cumbersome to open.
With a decent server you pull it out of the rack. Still on it's rails. Open the latch on the top. Slide the top panel a few cm back and lift it. Done! No Screws.
 

Offline The Soulman

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2016, 09:04:09 pm »
Why are those centrifugal fans even there?? There isn't much if any airflow when the air inlet is pressed against the bottom..  :palm:
 

Offline uncle_bob

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2016, 11:59:14 pm »
For what ever reason (likely the power math) the Federal IT empire dumps them on the market after about 4 to 6 years of use.

Most likely because the support contracts ran out. Getting new contracts for old hardware is about the same price as getting new hardware with support contracts.

Power is sometimes a factor, but not really electricity bill related. All that power goes into heat (in one way or another), which taxes the AC in the server-rooms. Cooling datacenters is _expensive_.

Hi

The fun of buying these servers is that you can look up all the data on them. Needless to say they are a staple item around here. Quite a few of us seem to have several of them. Based on the records on the individual machines, it is rare to find one that had any sort of extended support on it. I'd say out of a sample of  .... errr .... 40 or so .... you find two or three that had an extended service plan on them. There might have been some sort of site support, but I think that's unlikely.

If you dig into it, the power per core / capacity to do "stuff" per core has gone down on the power side and up on the work side quite a bit. If you have any sort of real load, there is a ton of money to be saved on datacenter cooling and the like. There's also the savings of condensing ten racks into two or three while handling a bigger load. If you own about as many datacenters as McDonalds has locations, closing down a few hundred of them might save a bit ...

Bob
 

Offline Bud

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2016, 12:22:13 am »
Looking at the video it's really cumbersome to open.
With a decent server you pull it out of the rack. Still on it's rails. Open the latch on the top. Slide the top panel a few cm back and lift it. Done! No Screws.

That is because it was dedigned before Jony Ive's time. Otherwise you'd need a hair dryer to heat it around the perimeter  and use a suction cup to lift the cover.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2016, 02:43:19 am by Bud »
Facebook-free life and Rigol-free shack.
 

Offline kc8apf

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2016, 03:18:02 am »
I'm guessing they slide out of the cover like that so you can do basic service jobs without taking them out of the rack.
Looking at the video it's really cumbersome to open.
With a decent server you pull it out of the rack. Still on it's rails. Open the latch on the top. Slide the top panel a few cm back and lift it. Done! No Screws.

The product designers wanted to avoid full-length rails not only due to extra cost but also because rack depth varies.  Instead, they shipped a set of short rails that attached to the back of the rack.  In the video, you can see a small metal rectangle with two pins with one of the pins in a hole in the lid and the other extending out the back.  Those pins slide into the back rails and the lid gets screwed into the front of the rack.  Then the chassis slides in and out of the lid.  It turned out to be a horrible design.  It constantly jammed.  The little rectangles were a pain to install.  For the Xserve G5, they switched to set of adjustable, full-length rails like everyone else.
 

Offline bitwelder

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2016, 06:37:43 am »
Why are those centrifugal fans even there?? There isn't much if any airflow when the air inlet is pressed against the bottom..  :palm:
Too bad that when Dave powered on the server with the cover on didn't check how much air was the centrifugal pushing out. If there is really little gap on the bottom side of the fans I'd expect them to have an horrible whining sound, more than what it looked like in the video.
 

Offline kc8apf

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2016, 06:41:35 am »
Why are those centrifugal fans even there?? There isn't much if any airflow when the air inlet is pressed against the bottom..  :palm:
Too bad that when Dave powered on the server with the cover on didn't check how much air was the centrifugal pushing out. If there is really little gap on the bottom side of the fans I'd expect them to have an horrible whining sound, more than what it looked like in the video.

There is a gap and they do whine horribly.  There is some rudimentary fan control but that generation of Xserves was ridiculously loud.
 

Offline uncle_bob

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2016, 12:40:32 pm »
Why are those centrifugal fans even there?? There isn't much if any airflow when the air inlet is pressed against the bottom..  :palm:
Too bad that when Dave powered on the server with the cover on didn't check how much air was the centrifugal pushing out. If there is really little gap on the bottom side of the fans I'd expect them to have an horrible whining sound, more than what it looked like in the video.

There is a gap and they do whine horribly.  There is some rudimentary fan control but that generation of Xserves was ridiculously loud.

Hi

It's rare to find a lot of attention paid to fan noise on a server. Most of them seem to be benchmarked against a rack full of PDP-11/45 gear ...

Bob
 

Offline kc8apf

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2016, 01:22:56 pm »
Later models found a home in sound dampened racks in recording studios. They put a lot more care into fan control then.

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk

 

Offline Hypernova

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2016, 05:22:18 am »
I am assuming who ever threw this out is that same company that dumped the Macs, especially since they were also around 2003 vintage.
 

Offline uncle_bob

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2016, 01:04:29 pm »
I am assuming who ever threw this out is that same company that dumped the Macs, especially since they were also around 2003 vintage.

Hi

The utility of non-Intel Mac's has been dropping year after year. They may have been sitting in somebodies inventory for the last decade with a real high price tag on them. At some point the guy woke up and realized they were actually costly hazardous waste rather than an asset. Quietly off to the dumpster they go ....

Bob
 

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2016, 11:44:46 am »
I am assuming who ever threw this out is that same company that dumped the Macs, especially since they were also around 2003 vintage.

Hi

The utility of non-Intel Mac's has been dropping year after year. They may have been sitting in somebodies inventory for the last decade with a real high price tag on them. At some point the guy woke up and realized they were actually costly hazardous waste rather than an asset. Quietly off to the dumpster they go ....

Bob
Not to mention you have smartwatches (meh) with more computing power and memory than these old servers.
 

Offline uncle_bob

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2016, 11:55:18 am »
I am assuming who ever threw this out is that same company that dumped the Macs, especially since they were also around 2003 vintage.

Hi

The utility of non-Intel Mac's has been dropping year after year. They may have been sitting in somebodies inventory for the last decade with a real high price tag on them. At some point the guy woke up and realized they were actually costly hazardous waste rather than an asset. Quietly off to the dumpster they go ....

Bob
Not to mention you have smartwatches (meh) with more computing power and memory than these old servers.

Hi

If you are running them 24/7, those old servers (from anybody) are costing you a lot of money. That smart watch running on a solar cell will pay for it's self mighty fast ... Of course there is the minor point that you can get a chunk of "cloud machine" for free that does quite a bit and also likely blows away some of the old stuff. That's even cheaper still ...

Bob
 

Offline Fungus

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2016, 05:39:07 pm »
If you are running them 24/7, those old servers (from anybody) are costing you a lot of money. That smart watch running on a solar cell will pay for it's self mighty fast ...

I dunno about a watch but you could probably replace them with a small, fanless Intel Atom Box. I would pay for itself in a few months via the reduced electricity bill.
 

Offline ConKbot

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2016, 11:11:58 am »
Apple with dubious or worse cooling? color me surprised :P Also, hope that non-ECC ram wasnt standard and was someone upgrading it to more ram for cheap in the past.
 

Offline dom0

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2016, 02:10:52 pm »
If you are running them 24/7, those old servers (from anybody) are costing you a lot of money. That smart watch running on a solar cell will pay for it's self mighty fast ...

I dunno about a watch but you could probably replace them with a small, fanless Intel Atom Box. I would pay for itself in a few months via the reduced electricity bill.


G5s are actually not that slow. Very, very generalized statement: maybe ~1/4 the processing power per core of a today's mid-range Intel desktop CPU. Still faster than (almost? -- maybe the A53 at 2 GHz can beat them) all ARMs. Of course, their power usage is absolutely ridiculous and was already ridiculous back in the day. Plus, the poor power management either has them make annoying noises or lets them run at 150+ W idle.

(Edit: ^-- true for any G5, v-- talking about Powermac G5s here)

For todays standards they are pretty loud, back then it was okay I guess. But only because the CPU(s) have truly massive heatsinks sandwiched between no less than four fans. I have never seen a CPU heatsink that large. Fans included they are the length of a grown man's forearm, about 20x20 cm in cross-section.

And when the fan management thinks it has to turn the fans up... well. Most vacuum cleaners are less noisy. (No irony)

Really the only reason to spring 10-20 USD / EUR for a Powermac G5 is if you have a need to test software on a big-endian architecture, or if you want a difficult to mod case (get a Mac Pro instead, or a proper case FFS).
« Last Edit: May 25, 2016, 11:02:09 pm by dom0 »
,
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #23 on: May 25, 2016, 11:00:26 pm »
 Even modern servers can be noisy at power on. The latest Cisco UCS blades have no less than 16 fans sandwiching the CPU heatsinks, a double row in front and a double row behind. It's not that it needs that many fans for airflow, it's for redundancy. There's also at least 2 in each power supply. On initial powerup, they ALL come on at max speed - sounds like a jetliner taking off, and if you set the thing on some rollers it might be enough to make it move. Then it settles down and in normal operation it never gets that loud again. It doesn't help that for a 1U design the only real option are teeny tiny fans that need to run fast to get any reasonable amount of airflow, whereas with a full size desktop PC you can stick a monster 200mm fan in there that moves twice the air while turning 1/8 of the speed.

 

Offline dom0

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Re: EEVblog #882 - Dumpster Dive Apple Xserve Computers
« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2016, 11:01:35 pm »
(I was mainly referring to PowerMac G5s in my post there, not the XServe variety - my bad, I edited my post to clarify)
,
 


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