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Dell girds iron from the tower to the blade

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On the rack

The PowerEdge R710 server kicks the Nehalem EP rack box up another notch, boosting the DDR3 memory slot count up to eighteen (for a maximum of 144 GB of memory capacity) and putting this new mobo into a 2U rack box that has more room for expansion and more air flow to cool it all. The DDR3 memory runs at the full range of speeds on the R710 (800 MHz, 1.07 GHz, and 1.33GHz), but Dell warns that using 8 GB DIMMs on this server requires the memory modules to be clocked down to 533 MHz.

The R710 server has room for eight 2.5-inch SAS or SATA drives or six 3.5-inch SAS or SATA drives. The machine comes with different I/O configurations, including one that puts two PCI-Express x8 slots and two PCI-Express 2.0 x4 slots in the box and another that puts one x16 and two x4 2.0 slots in the box. The machine has four Gigabit Ethernet ports with failover and offload capabilities built in, and comes with an efficient 570-watt or a regular 870-watt power supply.

The R710 supports the same operating systems and hypervisors as the R610 outlined above.

On to the PowerEdge Nehalem EP blade servers. The M610 is a half-height blade and the M710 is a full-height blade. The M610 blade supports the 60-watt, 80-watt, and 95-watt variants of the Nehalem processors, while the M710 supports 55-watt and 75-watt options (the first I have heard of these chips). The M610 has a dozen DDR3 slots, for a total of 96 GB, while the M710 has eighteen slots for a maximum of 144 GB.

The M610 has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, while the M710 doubles that up to four ports. Both machines use the Intel 5520 chipset, and both have two 2.5-inch drive bays that can use a variety of SAS, SATA, or SSD drives. The blades can have a variety of mezzanine cards plugged into their motherboards to add Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and InfiniBand (both DDR and QDR speeds) networking above and beyond that which is integrated into the blade board.

The operating system support on these blades is broader than with the rack and tower machines, and that may simply be a matter of which ones have been put through the certification process first. Dell is preloading Windows Server 2008 in all of its incarnations on these two PowerEdge blades as well as Windows Server 2003, RHEL 4 and 5, and SLES 10. SLES 9 and Solaris 10 are supported, but not preinstalled. In terms of hypervisors, Dell is supporting ESX Server 3.5 or ESXi 3.5 (the latter embedded on a flash drive) as well as XenServer Express or Enterprise on the M610 or M710; customers can run ESX Server 3.0 on the box, but it doesn't come preinstalled.

The servers are all shipping now, according to Dell. Pricing information was not available at press time, but within the next couple, we'll be doing a big, ol' Nehalem Throwdown to see how everyone stacks up of days as pricing information trickles forth. ®

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