Dell goes swimming in Skylake to source 14G server line

Blasts out 7 new PowerEdge products with better stuff inside

By Chris Mellor

Posted in Servers, 11th July 2017 16:17 GMT

Dell is announcing a set of 14G servers, using new Intel processor chips, and replacing the equivalent 13G server line products.

Customers will get better automated server setup and security plus more performance, and more and faster-access storage capacity – Dell being convinced that software-defined and virtual SAN storage using commodity servers and drives instead of proprietary arrays is going to become a major part of enterprise data centres.

The Austin powerhouse's 13G servers typically used Broadwell Xeon E-2600 v4 processors whereas these 14G jobs have settled on Skylake CPUs, Xeon v5s, otherwise known as the Scalable Xeon family (Xeon SP), with bronze, silver, gold and platinum models, such as the Platinum 8100, and Gold 6100 CPUs.

However, Intel hasn't yet formally launched its Purley server product line so Dell can't say which Skylake processors go in which 14G servers. Intel hasn't formally announced individual Skylake Xeon SP products - such as Xeon SP 8170 (which has been leaked). Chipzilla will spill its Purley and Xeon SP beans at 1715pm BST (1200 ET, 0915 Pacific, 1815 CEST) today.

Through using Skylake Xeon SP processors, Dell is claiming up to 34 per cent more VMs per node and 250 per cent more bandwidth for ScaleIO, 12x improved IOPS in vSAN clusters, and up to $600k Oracle licensing savings with 9 per cent more OLAP performance using Xeon SP processors, meaning fewer cores (R940 server).

There is a good SAP HANA benchmark due to using the new R940 server as well – also not public yet.

In general, Dell says it gets 27 per cent more cores and 50 per cent more memory bandwidth with Xeon SPs.

There are seven 14G servers being announced:

13G Servers 14G Servers Notes
R630 R640 Dual-socket server for dense scale-out data centre computing and storage
R730 R740 General purpose workhorse with superior configuration flexibility
  R740xd High-performance software-defined storage server
R930 R940 4-socket powerhouse for large scale-up analytics
M630 M640 Server blade
FC630 FC640 Server blade
  C6420 Capable of direct liquid cooling

Here's a list of the new servers' features:

R640 - dense, scale-out computing server

R640 2-socket server for dense scale-out data centre computing and storage

R740 - general server workhorse

Dell R740 - general server workhorse

R740xd - storage server

Dell R740xd - storage server

R940 - mission-critical workload server

Dell R940 servers – for mission-critical database, realtime data, and analytics

M640 - modular server

FC640 - modular server

C6420 - for high-performance computing

The R740xd provides the server base for ScaleIO, VMWare VSAN and Storage Spaces Direct Ready Nodes, as well as VxRack and Rail, and Nutanix XC hyperconverged appliances. It also features in so-called Ready Solutions for Azure Stack and Hadoop.

We're told that 14G servers will be ready for the M1000e, FX2 and Vertex (shared infrastructure server system for remote/branch offices) chassis later this quarter.

iDell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC), automation, and security

Where the 13G server generation used v8 of the iDRAC subsystem, the 14G ones use v9. It has a RESTFul API with Redfish support. This system can look at a server's ports and recognise what's plugged into them.

Joe Wiese, systems design engineer at Rackspace Hosting, was enthusiastic. "The web front-end can view and edit the iDRAC, the PERC, the NICs, and the BIOS all through a single web interface that is also Redfish compliant for scripting via API calls. It is hands-down the single greatest addition to PowerEdge that I have encountered."

With data centres expected to deploy more and more servers automating the processes, this is more important. The 14G servers come with OpenManage Enterprise, an automation management facility building on the prior OpenManage product. This adds auto-discovery of Nutanix XC, VxRack and VxRail nodes, characterising servers in these roles and managing appropriately.

You can push out profiles pertinent to these roles and build hundreds or thousands of servers at a time using this console.

It has tablet and smartphone integration via OpenManage Mobile. Previously 13G's QuickSync was limited to Android. QuickSync 2 has multiple connections to the system.

There is also scripting support via the API.

On the security side iDRAC 9 has a hardware root of trust feature. Firmware updates are authenticated, there is PowerEdge Secure Boot and the system configuration can be locked down, preventing BIOS and firmware updates. An iDRAC 9 login is needed to reverse the lockdown. Servers can also be repurposed or retired safely with Instant Secure Erase.

Ready Nodes

Dell EMC ready Nodes roadmap

The R640 and R740xd ScaleIO Ready Nodes have, we understand, NVDIMM-Ns to enable compression and metadata acceleration, plus GPU support for VDI workloads and 25GbitE networking options. Storage has been enhanced with new NVMe options and higher capacities in hybrid and all-flash configs.

The R740xd is used for a Storage Spaces Ready Node, and features GPU support for VDI Workloads, 25GbitE networking options, and support for both RoCE and iWARP. It also has more NVMe options and the higher capacities in hybrid and all flash, plus more storage flexibility.

Availability

PowerEdge R940, R740, R740xd, R640, and C6420 servers are now available worldwide. The FC640 and M640 and Dell EMC products (including Data Domain Appliance, CloudArray, Ready Bundles, Ready Systems, Dell EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, Dell EMC Native Hybrid Cloud and Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack) using these 14G servers swill be available later in 2017. ®

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