The Essential Guide to Server Components

The server is the central hub of communication and essential function in most of our business computing. Whether it’s serving for basic mail exchanges, providing large scale storage for our databases, or hosting applications for networked users, much of a business’s mission critical applications hinge on the server. Because a server serves such an important role, it is important that you be familiar with its functional role, but in addition to that, its internal architecture. Whether you’re troubleshooting potential problems, checking out your options for your next upgrade, or conducting a basic hardware cleaning, knowing your components is essential. Here, we will take a part by part approach to the essential components housed in your server, along with a basic description of each. Check it out below. Basics First: The Motherboard The motherboard of any computer system can be thought of as the foundation upon which everything else is built. The motherboard is the printed circuit board which interfaces all of the other components. From the power supply to the processor, the motherboard relays electrical signals in an appropriate manner, and provides a point of access for all internal and peripheral devices. Note the motherboard’s north bridge, which refers to the connection between the computer’s processor and its memory, and the south bridge, which refers to the connections between all extended and “slow” components. The motherboard also houses all DIMM slots for memory, cabling for storage and optical drives, and external interface panels (such as USB, HDMI, etc.). The Processor The processor is the “thinking” component of the computer, and handles every mathematical and logical operation you task it with. For this reason, the processor is the key component in any true computing, and provides key functionality for servers. Processors, in executing lines or instructions, receive an input and produce an output. The rate at which a processor can perform these calculations is called the Clock Speed, and refers to the frequency at which the processor’s clock executes lines or commands. In general, a higher clock speed is advantageous for a processor, all else considered equal. The Storage Drive Be it a hard disk drive or a solid state drive, the storage drive allows for the server’s long term storage. As business data management is so often a key consideration in server applications, servers usually allow for numerous storage bays. Additional performance and usage benefits are available through RAID levels of storage, which allow data to be “striped” across multiple disks (allowing for faster performance) or to be backed up automatically onto redundant disks. Memory, Power, and More Memory refers to Random Access Memory, a type of high speed and short term storage which your server utilizes whenever programs are active and in need of storage. Memory typically comes in “sticks”, where individual modules are plugged into the motherboard to provide an integrated circuit based memory. Power supplies are yet another essential component; a metered power supply provides the requisite amount of electricity to all interconnected components, for instance. While the power supply’s function is immediately evident, it’s important to note that power supplies must provide requisite measured wattage to ensure proper server functionality. These are the core components of a server’s configuration, and in learning more about your server’s architecture, you allow yourself greater potential in its use.