As you might know, Computer Servers are powerful computers which are accessed by multiple users. But, what exactly are the advantages of a Server over a desktop? Why should one buy a Server instead of a PC? Let us look at some of the major advantages of a Computer Server (over a computer), in this article. We are primarily interested in the hardware level differences.
Advantages of a Server over a desktop computer:
- Servers contain more powerful processors than a desktop computer. They support multiple processors, multiple cores and multiple threads. So, a lot of virtual machines can reside in a single server without any compromise in performance.
- Servers support advanced RAM technologies like DDR3 SDRAM that is scalable, gives a better performance and more secure. In general, the capacity of RAM supported by servers are higher (per server) and they also come with ECC technology, which automatically checks for and corrects single bit errors during read/write sequences of the RAM.
- Since servers support larger cache memories in their CPU’s, they can fetch frequently requested data faster than desktop computers.
- Servers generally have a higher storage capacity as multiple disks can be inserted into them. All these disks can be configured to look like a single disk to the user and protection against failure of single disks is provided by a technology called RAID. RAID technology stores the same data in multiple disks and can reconstruct individual disks upon failure.
- Hard-disks can spin faster in some servers and hence the data storing/fetching rate is higher.
- Servers support advanced storage interconnect technologies like SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) which offer a much higher performance when compared to SATA, which is the primary storage interconnect technology in desktops.
- Servers are manufactured and optimized for 24 x 7 operation, while desktops are not.
- Servers have redundant power supplies and redundant fan (cooling) modules that are often hot-swappable (field replaceable). So, a failure of any of these components do not affect the working of a server.
- It is not required for each server to have a keyboard, mouse and monitor. Multiple servers can share these components.
- A server is built to support multiple user applications and multiple user access. Desktops generally support single users.
- Servers generally have multiple Network Interface Cards and support technologies like Adapter teaming and link aggregation. So, multiple interfaces can be bonded together to achieve a higher throughput and traffic can fail-over to adjacent adapters.
- Graphical capabilities of servers are generally very basic as they are not expected to give graphical outputs themselves but servers are optimized for multi-user applications like database access.
- Some servers support hot-swappable hard disks.
- Servers are mostly rack-mountable. They are compact (1U/2U) in size and hence don’t take up much space (unlike the tower based desktop CPU’s). Since servers are rack mountable, they can take advantage of structured cabling.
- Servers can be used with software based health monitoring tools that monitor the health of individual components in a server. They can pin-point which part is down, which part requires maintenance and they can even anticipate a component failure.
- Servers are maintained by a system administrator from a central location (like a data center). So, it is easier to apply security policies to the server and back-up all critical data. With individual desktops, these things are up to the users.
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