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Dell does four-core Xeons and Opterons with new blade box

Project 'Copy HP' nears completion

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Dell once hoped to put its revamped blade platform in customers' hands during the fourth quarter of 2007. The hardware maker missed that goal but does appear to have an imminent blade dump on tap, The Register has learned.

We've discovered the most detailed specs to date on the hardware we first revealed way back in March. Dell, any day now, will hand customers the new 10U M1000e chassis along with a pair of fresh blades - the Xeon-based M600 and Opteron-based M605. As reported long ago, the M1000e will hold 16 half-height blades.

The M1000e seems to be almost an exact replica of HP's c-Class chassis. Dell, for example, will support the half height blades along with full height systems and double wides.

Dell, however, thinks it has an edge over HP - or at least over itself - on the power and management fronts. The M1000e, for example, has 3 "super efficient" redundant power supplies that result in a system 20 per cent more power efficient than Dell's existing, slow-selling blades. In addition, Dell has popped in dynamic speed fans and re-architected the air flow patterns within its blade box.

For management, Dell is touting "tool less" - that means you, Scoble - component removal and a convenient chassis management console. Please rejoice if convenient chassis management consoles move you.

As you might expect, the blade supports a variety of networking options including 4Gb Fibre Channel and Infiniband modules. We also saw the words "3 redundant multi-lane fabrics," which will move some and not others.

The new blades share the same basic components. You get quad-core chips, dual Gigabit NICs, 2 PCIe mezzanine card slots, support for up to 64GB of memory and up to 2 SAS or SATA (2.5 inch) disks.

Dell will support Windows Server 2003 R2, Red Hat v4 and v5, SuSE 9 and 10 and VMware ESX 3.0 with the new servers. The Xeon box will also have support for ESX 3.1, while the Opteron box will have support for ESX 3.5 - or so we understand it.

Who already has a unit? Well, it looks like Cisco has been testing away. (Don't expect that link to work for too long.)

Dell could use an HP copy in the blade market. It's way, way behind HP and IBM, holding less than 10 per cent of the fast growing space. Meanwhile, HP and IBM eat up more than 70 per cent of the blade market together. ®

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