PowerEdge SC1425 #1 – First Look and First Boot

Hello everyone, for this first real blog post about homelabs I can see nothing better but a new hardware acquisition. I recently got a Dell PowerEdge SC1425 for free, this is a pretty old hardware but I’m sure it will teach me a lot of things! So this is the first post of a multiple series of blog post about this server and my experimentations with it ! Take a seat and let’s see what this thing can offer (Well, was able to offer back in the day..) !

Table of Contents

First Look

The Outside

Dell PowerEdge SC1425 Front

When I got this server back home, I noticed something that scared me for a few seconds, the front cover was on and no keys on it! So I was scared that I had to hack my way in the front panel, but after further inspection, it wasn’t locked and I just had to push a little clip on the side and the panel came right out.

Lock of the front panel cover

Right after opening it I even found the keys in a little space inside the front cover. I just find these little things really interesting! The keys were really hard to get back from the front panel cover, I was able to get them out with a pair of scissors and a bit of force, and it didn’t break anything, so it’s all good!

Dell PowerEdge SC1425 Front Panel

As we can see, the frond panel doesn’t have much on it, from left to right we have a power button, some LEDs (System status and Hard-Drive activity), some ABCD markings (I don’t know what it is at all, we’ll see later maybe!), next we have an informations button and finally 2 USB 2.0 ports. It doesn’t have any front VGA connector like in newer servers, so we’ll be stuck with the VGA on the back!

As for the back side, it is pretty standard for the time, with only 1 power supply unit, 2 PS/2 connector (keyboard and mouse), a DB9 console port, a VGA port, 2 more USB 2.0 ports, two ethernet gigabits ports (I suppose 1 is for management and the other for standard network access, because the first port have a wrench icon beside it, but we will see later!) and finally a information button with its accompanying LED.

Back side of the server

The Inside

Okay, now let’s dive inside this beast! To open the server we just need to unscrew the two screws in the back and then push (really hard) the top plate to the back of the server, then it can be removed and it will reveal some really well-conserved parts!

Inside the Dell PowerEdge SC1425

At first, I was quite surprised of the state of this server, it’s really clean, almost no dust inside, no major scratch marks or anything.

I then saw that this server does have two CPUs! I have no idea about the CPU models on this thing but after looking at some specs online it seems to be two Intel Xeon CPU from the Irwindale or Nocona series. Those are all 1core chips with multi-threading, it is some of the first 64 bits Xeon CPUs from Intel. To feed all this incredible power, comes a single 450 Watts PSU. and also 4 fans for the CPU and a single fan on the side to any PCI card we can fit inside this.

With this CPU pair, we got 6 sticks of 512MB DDR2 ECC memory, for a totally whapping 3GB of RAM! We can go up to 12 GB of RAM with 6x 2GB sticks, this information is from a random page I came across when looking for more infos on this server.

The PCI port caught my eyes as I never seen anything quite like it, and after some digging on Wikipedia (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/PCI_Keying.svg), it seems to be a 64bit PCI connector as the “normal” PCI port were 32bits only I believe (Imagine having this connector instead of the PCI express we now have!)

A 64bit PCI connector with a PCI riser

At the front of the server there’s something that really caught my eyes as well and it is 2 HDD bays that can fit any 3.5″ HDD, I will definitely try to do some software RAID, or even LVM, on this thing! There’s also 2 SATA (probably SATA I) connectors on the motherboard and even an IDE connector, which I find quite weird because there isn’t any Molex connector to plug IDE HDD or IDE optical drive. (Does IDE optical drive need Molex, or can they pull power from the small 4 pin white connector that we see in the picture below ? Genuine question as I don’t really know)

Picture of both SATA port on the motherboard with a bonus IDE port

Also, speaking of optical drive, there is a place to put one inside the server at the front, this server doesn’t come with one sadly so I really hope we can install an OS with an USB drive on this thing!

First Boot

Okay, so before turning it on, I’ll make an Arch Linux boot USB stick to try to boot the server. I’ll also plug a monitor and keyboard and enter the BIOS!

The Setup

Dell PowerEdge SC1425 with a 24″ monitor and a PS/2 gray keyboard on top.

The only monitor I had on hand is this 24″ iiyama 1080p monitor, so this will have to do! I also have this wonderful PS/2 keyboard, I wanted to try a USB keyboard but I couldn’t resist the look of this one. You might also notice the LEDs being ON! This is because right when I plugged the server in, it turned back on instantly! Also, you can see the Orange LED at the front, this indicate there is a fault somewhere. Though, I dont know where this comes from for the moment, maybe just because there is no SATA drive plugged into the sata cable?

But beside this, the server booted perfectly fine and quite quickly too! Fans spined up to 100% for the first few seconds, then calmed down a bit. The server is really noisy tho, I don’t have anything to measure sounds sadly, so I cannot give any data about this to you guys.


Well, the server is now ON, and I have no other choice than to wait for it to boot up and go into the BIOS (I could remove the power plug of course, but I don’t do that here, unless absolutely necessary!).

This first menu is quite basic with the BIOS revision and the server model written in the bottom of the screen and also some options to enter BIOS, Utility Mode and PXE Boot. Not seeing any Boot Menu option here, so at first I thought “bollocks, no boot menu, maybe no USB boot then ?”, but we’ll see that in a minute!

I was also actually surprised that the onboard video adapted and managed to display on the 1080p screen with no black border!

Dell server booting up with some options on screen.

Next, I clicked F2 to enter the Setup and waited for it to enter the BIOS for me.. then another screen popped up! On here we can see some more information already! We do indeed have two CPUs and they seems to be the 3GHz Xeon, with 2MB of cache and this indicate two Xeon from the Irwindale series. Nocona series only had 1MB of L2 cache. These CPUs were released back in 2005 and are the successors to the Nocona series that we talk about previously. We also see an “invalid configuration” message at the top, which, to be frank, I do not know where the faulty config is. And at the bottom we have the IPMI Server that we’ll take a look in a bit, after that we end up right into the BIOS!

The BIOS is quite normal looking for a Dell server from this era, with less options compared to later servers. So I could see the CPUs, I was also able to see all 3072MB of RAM which is a good sign! Hyper-threading is enabled already and we are reminded that this is a 64bit CPU too!

CPU Informations inside the BIOS

I also took a look to the Integrated devices settings and as we can see, we can disable PXE per-interface. There is also a speaker, it was enabled by default but I turned it off even tho the server didn’t use the speaker at all during boot. We do see the IDE connector being marked as “CD ROM” so if I find a CD drive to put in that thing, it better be IDE!

Integrated Devices settings in the BIOS

I then saved everything and rebooted and got myself inside the IPMI settings. IPMI over LAN was OFF, so I turned it ON so that I could use it later! A warning popped out saying that we wont be able to use the port 1 as a regular network port anymore, so it seems I was right when I said this port was for the IPMI/Management stuff in the previous section! I set up an IP address, changed the root password and added a hostname string. I decided to name this server “Neptune”, so I’ll refer it as Neptune from now on!

IPMI Server Management settings of the Dell PowerEdge SC1425 now named Neptune.

Loading an OS

And now, it’s time to boot an OS on it! Although I don’t even know if it would work, as the only USB mention in the BIOS was “USB Controller – ON with BIOS Support”. I plugged my Arch Linux 2023.01.01 USB at the back, saved the IPMI settings and rebooted. A messaged asked me to “Press F1 to continue or press F2 to enter Setup”. I pressed F1 and to my surprise, it booted right away!

Welcome to Arch Linux!

Okay, so it detected my USB and booted of it, but now, will it boot completely ? And boot it did! Here I am in a Linux bash terminal looking at the CPU and PCI informations!

Bash Terminal with the output of lscpu and lspci.

Nothing too much interesting in this last screenshot we can see all devices detected correctly, but we still don’t know exactly what CPUs are inside this, and Intel doesn’t help us much, these naming schemes where horrible and I’m quite thankful for the, still horrible naming scheme of today, but at least we know exactly what CPUs we are talking about after a bit of research. As for my server I believe I have two of these CPUs: https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/28015/64bit-intel-xeon-processor-3-00-ghz-2m-cache-800-mhz-fsb.html

I did find something quite interesting, these CPUs are the only ones with a TDP of 55 watts, as all the others of this series are 110 watts, at least according to the Intel website here: https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/codename/5960/products-formerly-irwindale.html

Power Usage

The last thing I’d like to talk about is the power this server draws from the wall. I have a handy wattmeter (the same thing as a Kill-a-watt for our fellow americans!)

A wattmeter displaying 130.7 Watts

At idle it draws around 5 to 6 Watts which isn’t a lot but necessary to make the IPMI function correctly I suppose. As for the power draw during operations, it peeked during the first seconds of boot at 200 Watts, then it went down to a steady 180 to 170 Watts until the Linux OS loaded, when it loaded the server was around 130 Watts, which is a lot compared to today’s efficiency standards. But what can you expect from a server from around 2005 ?

Ending Note

Okay so I learned a thing or two about this old Dell PowerEdge, and I hope you like reading this (or you maybe just looked at the picture because “pretty hardware”). I do have plan to make other blog posts about this server, the next one will probably be about installing an OS on this thing on one hard drive (which won’t be that hard I’m sure) and also looking at the IPMI and networking stuff.

Please let me know how can I improve at all this blogging stuff (despite the obvious grammar errors I’m sure a lot of you will spot!). I’ll also try to make a comment system under my posts that suits my need later, so for now, give me your feedback on Mastodon! (Link)

Thanks for everyone reading this and I wish you all a lovely day!

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