Dell Launches Low-Maintenance x86 Servers

by Andy Patrizio

Dell wants to help admins spend less time keeping x86 servers running. A new crop of Westmere-processor-based, self-healing machines are designed to be deployed and ignored.

Dell is leading the parade of x86 server vendors rolling out new hardware to coincide with the launch of Intel's Xeon 5600 processor dubbed "Westmere." The 32 nanometer server processor design runs faster and adds two more cores, yielding as much as a 60 percent performance improvement over the previous generation of Xeon chips.

However, server firms need more than speeds and feeds to compete, since they all have that selling point. In the case of Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), the company is pushing the ease of management with its servers, offering equipment administrators can deploy and not have to spend hours every day to keep it running.

That's Dell's pitch for its new PowerEdge server. The firm is introducing nine new blade, rack-mount and tower servers and three Dell Precision tower workstations on Tuesday, all running the new Xeon 5600. All come with the Dell Lifecycle Controller and Dell Management Console (DMC), which are designed to simplify management of the hardware.

"The CPU is an important ingredient to a server, but designing the right technologies around it are also important," Bryan Payne, senior manager for PowerEdge product planning at Dell, told InternetNews.com. "Another issue customers tell us about is just managing their server environment is time-consuming and complex. From server management to updates to retirement, each step along the way has a lot of steps and takes people away from broader imperatives and serving their business."

The Lifecycle Controller has been around for previous generations of Dell's servers. Now at version 1.3, this embedded technology is based on helping with system deployment, system updates, workload migration, hardware configuration and diagnostics from the desktop to the data center.

DMC provides an overview of the systems in a datacenter and monitors each system's power consumption for more accurate power management. It also performs "out-of-band" BIOS and firmware updates automatically so they are handled with one reboot.

Dell claims an overall performance improvement of up to 69 percent thanks to the increased clock speed and six-core design, compared to the four cores in the older Nehalem-generation Xeon 5500. Dell also boasts a 47 percent improvement in performance per watt.

In addition to updating the existing models, Dell is also introducing the PowerEdge R310, due to ship in early April. This is a single-socket 1U rack server designed for energy efficiency running the Xeon 3400, a low-power Xeon. Though it's powered by a low-end Xeon, the PowerEdge R130 has many features found in advanced servers, like RAID support, hot swappable hard drives, virtualization and lower wattage power supplies.

The new Xeon 5600 servers will begin shipping by March 23.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Mar 16th 2010
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