Silicon Mechanics: 'Wow'ing the Customer

Silicon Mechanics is building a new server for my company right now. They advertise 'Expert Included', implying you will receive top-notch support along with an excellent server. What that fails to imply is the amazing support you'll get before you order.

I submitted a quote through their web site, and requested the idle noise level of the server: something they're not currently publishing. Within 48 hours I got an email from Tim Groen, a member of their sales team, apologizing for the delay. In the meantime they had pulled a server, ordered a sound level meter, found a quiet room and tested the server. Wow #1.

Unfortunately, the server as quoted was louder than I was willing to tolerate (I work in the same room as our server rack). Tim asked a few questions about my priorities on the system, and what I would be willing to give up to get it quieter.

Shortly thereafter, I got another quote via email. Same system, but labeled 'quiet cousin'. Instead of chopping out any of my requested features, they opted to custom tune the system, with a guaranteed maximum SPL within my tolerances. Wow #2.

I got a call from Tim today, informing be the system was going to be a tad more expensive than originally quoted, as they were replacing the standard fans with something quieter. I approved the price change and got another email, which showed the fans they were including: maglev fans. Wow #3. I had no idea there were such things, but having experienced a maglev train I am expecting a rather quiet server.

Tim also told me to expect delivery next week; a full week ahead of their original estimate. Wow #4.


The server was delivered today, and unwrapped Christmas-morning-style. My co-hort and I bench-tested the server, and were very pleased with the noise level. Then the fans spun down after POST. I admit it; we giggled. The system is quieter than we expected, by far. Wow #5.

In the rack, compared to the rest of the noisemakers, I can't tell the server is running, save for a subtle low-frequency hum. Now to get openSUSE running on it, and start virtualizing (noisy boxes go first)!

Full disclosure: Silicon Mechanics sponsors my local Linux event, Linuxfest Northwest.