Intergraph's InterServe Web-300

We tested an InterServe Web-300 in our lab and have another one (an even bigger system: a 200MHz Pentium Pro with a 4GB disk and 64MB of RAM) running the Windows NT Magazine Web site. So far, both have performed remarkably well. The lab system gobbles up our WebStone benchmarks (see "Web Server Software Roundup" on page 57) without complaint, and the Web system barely even ticks over at a load of more than 700,000 hits per week.

If just three of these machines can run the entire Oscar site (last year's film Academy Awards) and still support several million hits per day with video downloads, audio clips, and graphics, then--just maybe--this system can support your site, too.

Please, Sir, Can I Have Some More?
We tested a standard Web-300 configuration with an extra 32MB of Error-Correcting Code (ECC) RAM (64MB total). It has a 150MHz Pentium Pro (all new models come with a 200MHz CPU standard), 2GB of SCSI-2 disk, a built-in 10Mbit (Mb) Ethernet, a 4X CD-ROM drive, and a Matrox Millennium (2MB WRAM) graphics adapter. It also came with the optional 21" Hitachi display ($2195).

You can order the system in any configuration you want and upgrade as your Internet needs grow. The system has a dual-processor board, so you can increase your system performance by adding a second CPU when you need it (just drop it into the ZIF socket), or even pull the 150MHz chip (and voltage regulator) and replace it with two 200MHz chips. The motherboard, which is Intergraph designed and built, can accommodate up to 256MB of RAM, and the Web-300 desktop chassis can hold up to 22GB of disk, as much as the BIOS can address. If this size isn't enough, look at the Web 630, a tower case that can hold up to 1GB of RAM and 4 CPUs and address more than 500GB of hardware-accelerated RAID disk. But, unless you experience, as Carl Sagan would say, billions of hits per day, this configuration might be overkill on a corporate Web server. Consider this system to run a SQL database or other CPU- and disk-intensive tasks on one system.

The desktop case gives you three PCI and two ISA slots on a riser card, and because the motherboard integrates video, SCSI, and Ethernet controllers, all slots are open for peripherals. The system has only one front-accessible 5.25" half-height drive bay with the CD-ROM in it and one internal 3.5" half-height bay. So if you want to add any disk space, you'll have to either replace the internal drive or use the system's external SCSI-2 connector.

On the networking side, the unit's built-in interface is 10Mb and has both unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and thicknet connectors. This setup is fine for any Internet connection up through a T1. Intergraph recommends that you upgrade to 100Mb Fast Ethernet, the standard on the Web 610 and 630, if you connect to a T3 or better.

Features and Functions
The Web-300 goes beyond server functionality. It can be a full multimedia authoring system, thanks to its extensive workstation-style audio and graphics capabilities. The architecture is similar to Intergraph's other desktop systems, such as the TD and TDZ families of graphics workstations.

The InterServe Web family has the same integrated audio features as the workstation families (fully Sound Blaster-compatible 16-bit, CD-quality stereo sound) and comes with a multimedia keyboard with built-in amplified speakers and microphone. The Matrox Millennium graphics adapter is also integrated onto the motherboard, offering enhanced performance for video and 2D/3D rendering applications such as Adobe Photoshop and NewTek's LightWave 3D. This combination, plus a straightforward upgrade path for adding OpenGL accelerators or other performance-enhancing peripherals, will let you use your Web-300 for everything from content authoring (multimedia applications, 3D graphics generation, video editing) to serving pages.

Intergraph markets the Web-300 and its siblings as Web solutions, instead of just boxes. When you order a system, it arrives bundled with software, including Windows NT Server 3.51, Internet Information Server (IIS), and third-party applications from Intergraph and other vendors: Intergraph Transcend, for language translation such as English to German; MetaInfo's DNS and Sendmail with POP3 1.0 for Windows NT; and Microsoft FrontPage for Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) authoring.

Performance
We ran our usual BAPCo workstation benchmark under NT Workstation (instead of NT Server), and the system compared favorably to a 200MHz Pentium Pro clone workstation. We noticed that the graphics adapter driver had a tremendous influence on system performance, resulting in a 10% improvement in the system's score. We expect such results in a test suite that consists mainly of graphical-output packages such as Word and Excel.

In server-focused testing (see "Web Server Software Roundup" on page 57), system performance depended on a properly written Web server application--obviously. Certain Web server packages maxed out the CPU with just a few concurrent connections, whereas applications such as Netscape Enterprise Server, WebSite Professional, and IIS barely ticked over at 30% CPU utilization with 35 active client sessions.

Table 1 compares the Web-300 with an equivalently configured desktop system (a Compaq Deskpro 2000: 200MHz Pentium Pro, 64MB of RAM, 1.6GB EIDE drive, 8X CD-ROM, Matrox graphics, 10Mb Ethernet, priced at $3800) running the same Web server package. The Web-300 performed about 10% better under our NT port of WebStone (this test uses Netscape Enterprise Server running on NT Server 3.51). Because the Web-300 had only a 150MHz CPU, compared to the Compaq's 200MHz, I expect an incremental performance improvement of about 35% for the newer 200MHz Intergraph systems.

Under a load of 500 simultaneous user connections performing small-file downloads, the Web-300 and the Compaq both leveled off at about 40% CPU utilization (average). Though these numbers don't show a tremendous difference between the two systems, they show that, for ordinary HTML page serving, you will have a very difficult time maxing out the Web-300.

And More
I found the Web-300 to be a good, solid performer. It costs more than your garden-variety clone, which you can use as a Web server if it has enough disk and memory. However, the Web-300 offers features and upgradeability that most clones don't, and it performs better. Plus, you get 24 X 7 vendor services such as one day of free onsite technical support and consulting or installation and 90 days of free phone support for installation, operation, and administration problems.

Although this system is in a desktop case with workstation features, it is still a server. For the price, you'll be hard-pressed to beat it.

InterServe Web-300
System Test Configuration: 150MHz Pentium Pro; 256KB Level 2 cache; 64MB of RAM; 2GB Fast SCSI-2 disk; 4X CD-ROM; 10 Base T Ethernet; Matrox Millennium graphics adapter
Intergraph Computer * 800-763-0242
Web: www.intergraph.com/ics
Price: 200MHz, 32MB of RAM, 2GB disk: $9500
Corrections to this Article:
  • There was an error in the Web information we gave for Survey Said for the Web. the correct Web site address is http://surveysaid.ostech.com:8080.