Dell SC420 and digium tdm400P compatibility?


#1

Hello,

Have done quite a bit of research on the Dell SC420 and its compaibility with digium products such as the TDM400P.

The digium website does not recomend using the Dell Poweredge SC420 with the TDM400P but does not say why. Other posts suggest its because you cannot change the interrupts in the bios, but you can chnage the pci slot the tdm400p is in to counter this irq sharing conflict.

However from doing searches on this forum, digium mailing lists and the net in general it appears that the majority of people find this server reliable and good value.

Any comments, good or bad about the SC420? Its going cheap in the UK and I am tempted to buy it…

Thanks for your consideration.

Alec


#2

The key word in your statement is “cheap”. The SC420 is apparently very cheaply built. I don’t have any direct experience with it. I believe that Fonality sells it as part of their Asterisk based solution.

I think it has a lot to do with the BIOS as you stated.


#3

Thanks for the fedback mustardman, can you advise what servers you use for asterisk?

Any one else had any experience with the SC420 that they would like to share?


#4

If I think it will give the customer a warm and fuzzy by using Dell, I like the PowerEdge 1800. It’s nothing special but has a 3 year next business day warranty on the hardware. Digium uses the PowerEdge 2850 for Asterisk Business Edition which they have extensively tested. I believe the 2850 uses the same chipset and similar motherboard as the PowerEdge 1800 so I figure it’s a safe bet.

For non-dell, I like any of the SuperMicro servers that use the P4SCE motherboard.


#5

Thanks for the feedback mustardman, appreciated. Its a shame the sc420 has issues as its a nice price all be it not as redundant. Is the only issue with the sc420 the interrupt problem? I hear this can be fixed by usig a lower down (away from agp) pci slot?

The Poweredge 1800 is £559.00 where as the SC420 is £199.99 :cry:

I appreciate we are not campairing apples wqith apples but its quite a bit more…

Also any particular SuperMicro that you use?

Thanks for your time.


#6

[quote=“AlecUK”]Thanks for the feedback mustardman, appreciated. Its a shame the sc420 has issues as its a nice price all be it not as redundant. Is the only issue with the sc420 the interrupt problem? I hear this can be fixed by usig a lower down (away from agp) pci slot?

The Poweredge 1800 is £559.00 where as the SC420 is £199.99 :cry:

I appreciate we are not campairing apples wqith apples but its quite a bit more…

Also any particular SuperMicro that you use?

Thanks for your time.[/quote]

You get what you pay for. That price differential does not look right though. You should be able to get the 1800 with basic features for less. That price on the SC420 seems awfully low. Does that even include a CPU and Hard Drive?

I am not sure of the issues with the SC420 but if fonality is using it it can probably be made to work. I phoned Digium once with a few general hardware compatibility questions and the tech I spoke to specifically warned me to stay away from the SC420. To quote him, “It is cheap junk”. I doubt the SC420 has that many slots to swap at that price. If you really need to get the cost lower I would consider a generic PC with a decent quality motherboard before I would consider cheap Dell stuff.

Anything from Dell that is cheap will cut corners on the two most important things, Motherboard and power supply. That is not a good thing to be doing with PBX phone systems IMHO.


#7

[quote=“AlecUK”]Hello,

Have done quite a bit of research on the Dell SC420 and its compaibility with digium products such as the TDM400P.

Any comments, good or bad about the SC420? Its going cheap in the UK and I am tempted to buy it…

Thanks for your consideration.

Alec[/quote]

I am running Asterisk on a Dell SC420 (Celeron D) with no issues. The TDM400P card is on a separate interrupt (adjusted by changing slots until I got a private IRQ) and working just fine. The system is so quiet you don’t notice its running unless you put your ear near it.

I disabled USB and serial ports on the PC to free up unused interrupts.

I also have two X100P clone cards which share the interrupt with the ethernet port but have not had issues with them either.

I’m running Sipura SPA-2000’s, SPA-3000’s, Aastra 9133i SIP phones, and off-LAN SIP devices via NAT over a cable modem to a location in another part of the country. I have an assortment of IAX and SIP VOIP providers connected as well. I use Aastra PT390 ADSI phones on the TDM400P card with all four ports of it as FXS ports.

So your mileage may vary but I am quite happy with my SC420. I only paid $249 US for it during one of Dell’s insane promotions.

I suspect that if you only use one TDM400P card, you won’t encounter any issues.


#8

Thanks kenn10 for the feedback, however i was under the assumption that onboard features such as usb and serial ports could not be turned off? I assume this is incorrect? Which pci slot have you used and how many does the sc420 come with? Also what tdm400p configuration are you using, I will be using a TDM04B. Also how long have you been using the sc420 with asterisk and do you experience any clicks and pops on the fxo lines?

Thanks for your input…

Alec


#9

It might be worth your time to phone Digium and specifically ask them what the problem is. If Digium specifically says on their website and via phone inquirys to stay away from the SC420 they must have a good reason.

My 2 cents.


#10

I asked a tech guy from digium this yesterday but he suggested he did not know and that it was probably an interrupt issue.

However the majority of posts I have read suggest that the SC420 works without any issues providing you use a lower down pci slow. I purchased mjy SC420 today for £238.00 inc VAT and delivery. It arrives in 7 days so will let you guys know how i get on.


#11

Good luck to you Alex.

I just got off the phone with Digium. What the tech told me is that not all SC420s are the same. Some combinations of motherboard/BIOS work ok and some have problems with the TDM400P and TE110P. Basically, he said it is a compatiblity problem between the BIOS and the Digium card that swapping slots and disabling things in the BIOS does NOT seem to solve.

Just repeating what he said. YMMV.

I looked on the Dell website and found that there was a new BIOS released for that server within the past couple months so maybe the problems with the previous BIOS have been resolved. Here are the revision notes for the new BIOS.

The following changes have been made to the A00 to create the A01:

  1. Corrected SMBIOS reporting of high speed CPUs
  2. Improved boot list management
  3. Improved setup handling of ‘ESC’ key
  4. Added a warning when changing the SATA controller mode
  5. Corrected password entry on international keyboards
  6. Corrected SMBIOS reporting of PCI-Express slots
  7. Added support for newer CPUs
  8. Improved USB hotplug detection
  9. Clarified diskette drive failure message
  10. Improved remote wake support
  11. Added support for USB remote control devices that respond as keyboards
  12. Improved PCI address space allocation
  13. Added failure handling if installed video card incompatible with setup
  14. Improved support for PCMCIA devices
  15. Fixed a problem with very small hard drives (under 528MB) not working
  16. Improved detection of PATA optical devices
  17. Improved BIOS flash update support
  18. Corrected parity errors in the simple boot flag byte

#12

thanks for the info mustardman, it appears that the A01 bios update might cause the problem. See this link here:

voip-info.org/tiki-index.php?page=TDM400P - first couple of lines.

Glad I only paid £199.99 for it, i can always return the dell if i experience these problems…but I hope it will not come to that…


#13

[quote=“AlecUK”]thanks for the info mustardman, it appears that the A01 bios update might cause the problem. See this link here:

voip-info.org/tiki-index.php?page=TDM400P - first couple of lines.

Glad I only paid £199.99 for it, i can always return the dell if i experience these problems…but I hope it will not come to that…[/quote]

Hmm…that’s an interesting link you found there. Just when I thought I had it figured out, that link has just made things even more fuzzy for me. Sounds like newer generation Digium cards may work. Please let us know what you find Alex.


#14

Indeed i will, will probably be about a week ebfore i get it installed…


#15

AlecUK,

So what is the status of this?


#16

Hi,

So far so good. The SC420 has been running with no problems for over 3 weeks now so I am happy. No clicks/pops etc.

However I am having trouble loading the zaptel drivers, i.e when i issue the following 2 commands in rc.local, zaptel and hence asterisk fail to start automatically on boot:

touch /var/lock/subsys/local
/sbin/modprobe wctdm
/usr/sbin/asterisk

Consequently I have to ssh in to the box when it has rebooted and run the following 2 commands:

/sbin/ztcfg -vv
/usr/sbin/asterisk

Asterisk then starts. I am running centos 4.1

Any advice on getting zaptel to load correctly first time and hence start asterisk automatically on boot would be helpful.

Cheers,

Alec