Types of Network Servers: A Comprehensive Guide

In today’s era of global digital transformation, emerging technologies such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data are undeniably at the forefront of driving digital transformation for businesses. However, the implementation and application of these innovative technologies rely heavily on robust underlying computing support. As the cornerstone of computing, servers play an indispensable role in the digital transformation of enterprises. This article will introduce different types of servers from various perspectives to help you gain a deeper understanding of network servers.

Essential Functions of a Network Server

A network server is a computer system or device that provides services, stores, and shares resources with other devices or users connected to a network. They exist in both hardware and software forms and are responsible for receiving, processing, and responding to requests from other devices on the network. The functions of a network server include, but are not limited to:

Storage and Resource Sharing: Network servers can store data, files, applications, and other resources, sharing them with other devices or users over the network. These resources may include documents, images, videos, and databases.

Providing Services: Network servers can offer various services such as web hosting, email services, file transfer, database management, and remote access. These services enable users to perform various operations and communicate over the network.

Processing Requests: When other devices or users on the network send requests, the network server receives and processes these requests, providing the appropriate services or resources based on the type of request. This may involve data processing, computation, and storage operations.

Maintaining Security: Network servers are responsible for maintaining the security of the system and data. This includes access control, authentication, encrypted transmission, and other measures to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Managing Network Traffic: Network servers can manage and schedule network traffic, ensuring efficient data transmission across the network and optimising network performance to enhance the user experience.

Classification of Network Servers by Form Factor

Network servers can be categorised based on their physical form factor, including rack servers, GPU servers, tower servers, high-density servers, blade servers, and cabinet servers. Each type has unique characteristics and suitable application scenarios.

Rack Servers

Rack servers are designed to be installed in standard 19-inch racks. Typically, they are standalone, rectangular metal enclosures that fit into data centre racks or cabinets, occupying one or more rack units (U) in height. They are suited for various workloads, from network services to database applications.

Rack Servers


  • Space-saving, easily installed in standardised server racks, promoting server consolidation and simplified cabling.
  • High scalability, suitable for server deployments of various sizes.
  • Focused on high-density computing capability, ideal for handling large-scale data and high-concurrency tasks.

Application Scenarios:

  • Data Centres: Widely used due to their high density and performance, supporting cloud computing, big data processing, and virtualisation.
  • Enterprise Computing: Suitable for medium to large enterprise environments, supporting business applications, databases, email servers, and file servers.
  • High-Performance Computing (HPC): Commonly used in HPC clusters, providing powerful computing capabilities and scalability for scientific research, engineering simulations, and financial analysis.

GPU Servers

GPU servers are based on GPUs for rapid, stable, and flexible computing services in scenarios like video encoding/decoding, deep learning, and scientific computing. They are equipped with one or more graphics processing units (GPUs) to handle compute-intensive tasks, benefiting from GPU parallel processing capabilities.

GPU Servers


  • High performance, suitable for compute-intensive tasks and scientific computing.
  • Excellent computing performance through GPU parallel processing.
  • Ideal for fields requiring large-scale parallel computation, such as deep learning and graphics rendering.

Application Scenarios:

  • Massive Data Processing: GPU servers can perform extensive data computations quickly, such as search, big data recommendations, and intelligent input methods, significantly reducing the time required for tasks.
  • Deep Learning Models: Serve as platforms for deep learning training, providing accelerated computing services and cloud storage integration for large datasets.

Tower Servers

Tower servers resemble traditional desktop computers with larger chassis to accommodate multiple hard drives, expansion cards, and other hardware components. They typically feature high-performance processors, ECC memory, and RAID controllers to ensure data integrity and system stability. Tower servers also come with redundant power supplies and cooling systems to prevent downtime due to hardware failures.

Tower Servers


  • Lower purchase and maintenance costs, ideal for small to medium-sized enterprises focusing on budget control.
  • Low space requirements, with independent active cooling solutions and low noise levels, are suitable for office environments.
  • High versatility and strong expansion capabilities with many slots and ample internal space for hardware redundancy.

Application Scenarios:

  • Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises: Meet certain computing needs without requiring large server clusters, offering flexibility in hardware configuration and easy placement in office environments.
  • Office Environments: Suitable for office use due to low noise levels and a design that fits well within the office setting.

High-Density Servers

High-density servers pack numerous processing cores or nodes into relatively small physical enclosures or rack spaces to maximise computing power while saving space and power consumption.

High-Density Servers

Features and Applications:

  • Maximise processing capability with minimal physical space and power consumption.
  • Suitable for data centres and large-scale server deployments.
  • Highly efficient with excellent resource utilisation, ideal for large-scale data centres, cloud computing infrastructure, and supercomputers.

Blade Servers

Blade servers are compact servers designed to minimise physical space and energy consumption. Unlike traditional rack servers, blade servers integrate multiple server modules into a single chassis, each module acting as an independent server.

Blade Servers


  • High Server Density: Known for high server density, optimising data centre space usage, and maximising computing power.
  • Reduced Power and Cooling Requirements: Designed for energy efficiency with shared resources, reducing operational costs and supporting greener data centres.
  • Simplified Management and Scalability: Centralised management interface for easy configuration, monitoring, and maintenance, with high scalability to adapt to changing workloads.
  • Cost-Effective and Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Despite higher initial investment, lower TCO due to reduced power consumption, simplified management, and space optimisation.
  • Optimised Network and Storage Connections: Integrated high-speed network and storage options like 10GbE for efficient cable management.
  • Flexible Blade Configuration: Allows configuration to meet specific workload needs, making it versatile for different applications.
  • Simplified Hardware Maintenance: Hot-swappable blade modules for hardware upgrades or replacements without downtime, enhancing system uptime.
  • Space Efficiency in Data Centres: Compact form factor optimises physical space, providing room for additional infrastructure or future expansion.

Application Scenarios:

  • Data Centres and Enterprise Environments: General computing workloads, virtualisation environments, private cloud infrastructure.
  • High-Performance Computing (HPC): Computationally intensive tasks in scientific research, engineering simulations, and financial analysis.
  • Edge Computing and IoT: Real-time data processing and analysis in edge computing and Industrial IoT scenarios.
  • Telecom Infrastructure: Supporting telecom infrastructure, network function virtualisation (NFV), and telco data centres.
  • Specialised Applications: Graphics and media processing, big data analytics, healthcare IT systems, educational and research institutions.
  • Public Cloud Infrastructure: Used by cloud service providers for scalable and efficient cloud computing services.

Cabinet Servers

Cabinet servers represent the core infrastructure of future data centres, integrating computing, networking, and storage into a unified system. They provide comprehensive solutions with software deployment for different applications.

Cabinet Servers

Features and Application Scenarios:

  • Integrated Design: Simplifies deployment and management with an all-in-one approach.
  • Multi-Functionality: Supports automated deployment across various applications.
  • Ease of Management and Maintenance: Reduces operational costs with straightforward management.
  • Ideal for: Enterprise data centres, small to medium cloud service providers, and virtualisation environments.

Exploring the Diverse World of Server Types

In addition to the previously mentioned network servers categorised by form factor, there are other types of servers based on different classification criteria. This section provides a brief introduction to these types.

Network Servers by Application

File Servers

File servers specialise in storing and retrieving data files, making them accessible over a network. They act as central nodes for data storage and sharing, providing users with convenient file access services. File servers offer file storage and sharing capabilities, allowing users to access and manage files via the network. Hardware configurations typically focus on storage capacity and data transfer speed, supporting multi-user access with robust security and permissions management. They are suitable for enterprise file sharing and collaboration, educational institutions’ teaching material sharing, and media file sharing in home networks.

Database Servers

Database servers are dedicated to managing and querying databases, offering simplified data access and operations for authorised users. They serve as central nodes for data storage and processing, supporting persistent storage and efficient data retrieval. Database servers are used to store and manage large volumes of structured data, supporting efficient data queries and operations. They provide database management system (DBMS) software such as MySQL, Oracle, and SQL Server, featuring high availability and fault tolerance to ensure data security and integrity. Applications include internal data management and business applications for enterprises, product information and order management for e-commerce websites, and experimental data recording and analysis for scientific research institutions.

Application Servers

Application servers provide business logic for a range of programs, facilitating data access and processing over a network. They act as intermediaries between applications and users, handling user requests and interacting with database servers. Application servers offer an execution environment for applications, supporting various programming languages and frameworks. They handle user requests, execute business logic, and perform data processing operations. Typically integrated with web servers, they provide services through APIs or web service interfaces. Suitable for internal business application systems such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), as well as internet applications like social media, email services, and online shopping.

Network Servers by Processor Count

Single-Processor Servers

Single-processor servers are equipped with one processor, suitable for small-scale and small-to-medium applications, such as small business networks and personal website hosting. They have limited processing capacity but are cost-effective for budget-conscious scenarios.

Dual-Processor Servers

Dual-processor servers feature two processors, offering higher processing power and performance, making them a common choice in commercial environments. They support greater processing capacity and larger workloads, suitable for medium-sized enterprises, data centres, and other scenarios requiring higher performance.

Multi-Processor Servers

Multi-processor servers come with more than two processors, often four or more, providing superior processing power and performance. They are ideal for large-scale data processing and high-performance computing tasks, commonly used in large enterprises and scientific research institutions with high-performance requirements.

Network Servers by Instruction Set

CISC Servers (x86 Servers)

CISC servers are based on Complex Instruction Set Computer (CISC) architecture, with the x86 architecture being the most typical example. This architecture has a long history and is characterised by a complex instruction set capable of executing various types of operations, offering rich functionality. It boasts strong compatibility, supporting a wide range of software and operating systems, and is user-friendly, with relatively simple development and programming.

RISC Servers

RISC servers use Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) architecture, focusing on improving the efficiency of executing common tasks, typically used in scenarios requiring high performance and low power consumption. They enhance execution efficiency for common operations, suitable for processing large-scale data and high-concurrency tasks.

VLIW Servers

VLIW servers utilise Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) architecture, employing Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC) technology to achieve high levels of parallel processing. This improves computational efficiency and performance, offering better cost-effectiveness and power control compared to traditional architectures. VLIW servers are suitable for tasks requiring extensive parallel computation.

Finding the Ideal Server: Key Considerations and Tips

After understanding the various types of servers, the wide range of options can make it challenging for buyers to decide. This section outlines some principles or factors to help buyers choose the most suitable server.

Stability Principle

Stability is the most crucial aspect of a server. To ensure the normal operation of the network, it is essential to guarantee the stable running of the server. If the server fails to operate correctly, it can result in irreparable losses.

Specificity Principle

Different network services have varying requirements for server configurations. For instance, file servers, FTP servers, and video-on-demand servers require large memory, high-capacity, and high read-rate disks, as well as sufficient network bandwidth, but do not need high CPU clock speeds. Conversely, database servers require high-performance CPUs and large memory, preferably with a multi-CPU architecture, but do not have high demands for hard disk capacity. Web servers also require large memory but do not need high disk capacity or CPU clock speeds. Therefore, users should choose server configurations based on the specific network applications they intend to use.

Miniaturisation Principle

Except for providing advanced network services that necessitate high-performance servers, it is advisable not to purchase high-performance servers just to host all services on a single server. Firstly, higher-performance servers are more expensive and offer lower cost-effectiveness. Secondly, despite a certain level of stability, if a server fails, it will disrupt all services. Thirdly, when multiple services experience high concurrent access, it can significantly affect response speed and even cause system crashes. Therefore, it is recommended to configure different servers for different network services to distribute access pressure. Alternatively, purchasing several lower-spec servers and using load balancing or clustering can meet network service needs, saving on costs while greatly improving network stability.

Sufficiency Principle

Server configurations are continually improving, and prices are constantly decreasing. Therefore, it is essential to meet current service needs with a slightly forward-looking approach. When existing servers can no longer meet network demands, they can be repurposed for services with lower performance requirements (such as DNS or FTP servers), appropriately expanded, or used in a cluster to enhance performance. New servers can then be purchased for new network needs.

Rack Principle

When a network requires multiple servers, it is advisable to consider rack-mounted servers. Rack-mounted servers can be uniformly installed in standard cabinets, reducing space occupancy and eliminating the need for multiple monitors and keyboards. More importantly, they facilitate power management and clustering operations.


Choosing the right server architecture is a strategic decision tailored to specific needs. Each type of server has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on an organisation’s particular circumstances and goals. In practice, some organisations opt for a hybrid deployment, utilising different server architectures based on workload requirements. This hybrid model can maximise the strengths of various architectures, providing more flexible solutions. We hope this article helps readers gain a comprehensive understanding of different server types to better meet their business needs.

As a network solutions provider, FS offers a variety of products and custom solutions to help you build high-quality data centres. Visit the FS website to explore more products and solutions, and our professionals are available 24/7 to assist you.

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