I'll be going into this into a bit more detail in a later posting but first a few observations:
- The BIOS was rather old and Lenovo has done quite a good job at releasing regular updates to cover Intel's security holes - both in the Management Engine firmware and the whole Meltdown/Spectre debacle. However, the CDROM-based EFI BIOS update failed - judging from the error message, the EFI code on the board was too old to run the update script. So I go to use the DOS update using a Rufus generated bootable USB key - I'm running Linux on this so the Windows update was not an option. This gave me an out-of-memory error which was somewhat annoying - fortunately the error message was accompanied by the command line that flash.bat was trying to execute. Entering this manually, without the overhead of command.com and Lenovo's wrapper code, worked fine.
- The motherboard is identical to the considerably larger Lenovo D30 but with half the RAM slots missing (8 instead of 16) to allow better airflow - the D30 has RAM cooling fans but the S30 relies on passive airflow. However, I think that a D30 motherboard would work fine with all the slots if I stick to low voltage DDR3L. If one comes up for a good price I may try that. As it is, 16GB DDR3 DIMMS are getting quite cheap on ebay and 128GB is probably enough.
- The C30 is quiet - even with all the cores maxed out running SETI it hardly makes any sound.
- There are several versions of the C30 and early ones, the 10xx series, don't support Ivy-Bridge Xeons but the 13xx series do. Most sellers don't distinguish and, frankly, if they're just shifting the boxes that they have, then I wouldn't expect them to know. Lenovo's documentation isn't the clearest on this either. I bought one with dual E5-2609 v2 chips to ensure that it was the right version - and then promptly swapped the CPU's for something less feeble.
- I'm waiting for the more beastly e5 v2 Xeons to come down a bit in price. In pairs, they hold their own against current single socket cpu's in multithreaded benchmarks rather well. I suspect that this is because multithreading tends to be memory constrained and a dual 2011 platform has 8 channels of DDR3 which isn't bettered by todays Epyc and Xeon Gold's. While they do give up a bit in bandwidth (DDR3 1866 vs DDR4 2666) the latency is amost the same - which counts for a lot as thread numbers and consequent randomness of memory accesses rise.