From the AMI Archives: MegaRAC G-Series Remote Access PCI Cards

From the AMI Archives: MegaRAC G-Series Remote Access PCI Cards

In one of our Tech Blog posts last week, we offered an overview of past and present MegaRAC® remote and BMC management products and solutions. In today's post, we will continue the discussion by taking a closer look at one particular product type that was a great success for AMI for many years, helping to establish our reputation as a leader in remote management: the MegaRAC G Series Remote Access PCI Cards. To begin, we focus our attention on the MegaRAC G2 and G3 Remote Access PCI Cards, both of which are shown in the photos below:

Above: MegaRAC G2 Remote Access PCI Card

Above: MegaRAC G3 Remote Access PCI Card

The MegaRAC G2 and G3 represented the second and third generation of AMI remote server / platform management PCI plug-in cards. These were fully integrated PCI Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) with a number of features that were considered highly advanced for the time and provided out-of-band, lights-out server management over LAN or modem.

Both cards were half-sized PCI cards meant to slot into a server chassis to provide network and keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) redirection to a remote system. They both featured an on-board modem and Ethernet port for network communication, a VGA port for video/graphical redirection, battery backup, virtual boot and auto server recovery capability, and event logging among other key features.

They were both also completely system independent, not having any dependencies on a particular operating system, BIOS or hardware components, making them extremely versatile and cost-effective solutions.

The MegaRAC G2 in particular was well-received by the industry from the time of its debut in 2002, the subject of a great deal of favorable attention in reviews and tests. It was a finalist in at Networld+ Interop Las Vegas that year in the "Best of Interop Awards" for Network Servers and Periperhals, and was named an "Ultimate Solution Winner" in the Ultime White Box Server category at Tech Builder XChange in 2003. It also received a maximum of five-stars in a review by SC Magazine in 2003, underscoring its acceptance as a cost-effective yet powerful solution for out-of-band remote management.

As they were released to the market, each of these cards represented a significant improvement in performance and utility from its predecessor. For example, from the images below, we see that the G2 card has an input for an external power source, while the G3 did not:

Above: MegaRAC G2 Remote Access PCI Card, Side View

Above: MegaRAC G3 Remote Access PCI Card, Side View

The G3 also added a number of useful features like a USB hub, secure SSH-based command line interface, simultaneous console redirection for multiple systems, an increase in jump from 16 to 64 users, double the ROM and RAM memory (at 8 MB and 32 MB respectively), and most importantly, a bump in processor speed from 66 MHz to 266 MHz. It also added the capability for firmware upgrade, both remotely or locally, to give it extra flexibility and longevity.

The MegaRAC G3 was followed by one last iteration of the product – the MegaRAC G4 card, shown in the image below – before finally being phased out in favor of fully software/firmware-based products like MegaRAC SPX and similar solutions as those became more economical, powerful and useful. However, each of these products represent important steps in our journey to become a respected leader in remote management and as such hold an important place in the history of MegaRAC and our company.

Above: MegaRAC G4 Remote Access PCI Card

Thanks for reading today’s Tech Blog! Do you have any experience using any of the MegaRAC G Series PCI cards? Are any of them still in use or hanging around your server room? Feel free to drop us a line via social media or our Contact Us form and let us know how you like it – and what you might like to see in future posts!