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Dell Continues to Rise

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Dec 18, 2009


What a difference a year or two makes. ServerWatch columns from about three years back show Dell in fourth place. Two years ago, the company ran neck and neck with Sun. Now it appears to be no contest for third spot. According to Jed Scaramella, an analyst at IDC, Dell maintained third place with 13.5 percent overall market share in 3Q09 despite experiencing a 6.8 percent revenue decline. Sun, these days, can muster little more than half that percentage.

Server Snapshot: Dell has pushed Sun out of the No. 3 server spot. Given the OEM's new array of products, will it be long before Dell's ascendancy places it at IBM's and HP's backs?

Since our previous snapshot, Dell's biggest development has been the release of the 11th generation of its PowerEdge server line. It all began in March, with the launch of several new models based on the Intel Xeon 5500 Series processor — specifically the M610 and M710 blade servers, the R710 and R610 rack servers, and the T610 tower server.

In the summer, the company added further machines using that same chipset — the T710, R410 and T410 were added to its PowerEdge portfolio. More recently, servers were added based on the new Intel 3400 Series processors — the T110 and T310 tower servers and R210 and R510 rack servers.

"These are equipped with the Intel Xeon 3400 series processor for the performance necessary to run business workloads with the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system," said Sally Stevens, director of Product Group platform marketing at Dell.

According to Stevens, Dell placed an emphasis on increasing virtualization performance when designing these systems. They were configured that way based on feedback from customers to supply the right blend of processor, memory, and I/O scalability. As a result, they streamline deployment of hypervisors from VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft.

Another goal for these 11th-gen servers was to eliminate significant differences between models.

"Once a customer familiarizes themselves with one of our 11th generation, they will know them all," said Stevens. "This is achieved through system commonality throughout the PowerEdge line."

In addition to other improvements, the latest batch of PowerEdge servers has improved cooling and energy efficiency. The Energy Smart Architecture reduces power consumption while increasing performance capacity. Some of enhancements include more efficient power supply units, improved system-level design efficiency, policy-driven power and thermal management, and standard-based Energy Smart Components.

"The engineering of PowerEdge servers functions to improve performance and energy efficiency, simplify data center operations, and lower the total cost of ownership," said Stevens.

She called particular attention to the following units:

M710

The M710 server is a full-height blade designed with large memory capacity and multiple I/O options. It has 18 DIMM slots and can have up to 144GB of RAM. The M710 and Dell EqualLogic storage had a 47.5 percent performance-per-watt advantage over competitor's blade server and storage. The starting price for the M710 is $2,449.

"In total cost of ownership [TCO] comparisons by rack, by chassis and by blade, the Dell PowerEdge M710 blade solution had a lower TCO and yielded significant cost savings over the HP ProLiant BL685c G5 blade solution," said Stevens.

T410

The Dell PowerEdge T410 is Dell's flexible 2-socket tower created for business applications to meet the needs of growing businesses and corporate remote offices. Compared to the HP ProLiant ML150 G6, the T410 provides an average of 11 percent greater performance and is 16 percent more energy efficient (performance/watt).

The T410 can fit in the smallest of places because it's only 24 inches deep and comes with an interactive LCD panel. This makes it quite suitable for many SMBs.

"The PowerEdge T410 is an ideal choice for small businesses looking for technology that fits in tight work spaces," said Stevens. "The T410 also includes a cutting-edge chassis and improved hard drive carriers and fans for exceptional reliability, smooth, quiet operations and ease of use."

The Dell PowerEdge T410 has a starting price of $1,149 USD.

R710 Rack-Mount

The PowerEdge R710 rack-mount was built with virtualization in mind. It blends technology, memory capacity and I/O scalability for optimal virtualization performance. It is a 2-socket, 2U rack server equipped with Intel 5500 Series processor. It has 18 DIMM slots and can hold up to 192GB RAM. It also features four integrated NIC ports and 4 PCIe GEN 2.

Compared to the previous generation PowerEdge 2950 III, the R710 was designed with 125 percent more memory capacity and more integrated I/O. It also supports DDR3 memory, which offers higher bandwidth and lower-power consumption than previous FBD or DDR2 technologies. The increased memory slots allow the use of smaller and cheaper DIMMS to meet computing needs and balance cost.

The R710 has a starting price of $1,998.

Golden Handshake

With the release of Dell's 11th-generation PowerEdge servers, some older models have been retired. These include the 840, T605 and the 1900 tower servers. Also, the 1950 III, 2950 III, SC1435 and the M600 servers are in the process of being phased out

Despite Stevens' focus above on Intel Xeon 5500 and 3400 Series processors, that doesn't mean AMD has been cut off. Dell is still working closely with AMD and has introduced a new batch of Opteron-based PowerEdge servers.

"Dell has introduced new six-core AMD Opteron-based PowerEdge servers to complement its existing line-up of dual and quad-core AMD systems," said Stevens. "We continue to enjoy strong relationships with both Intel and AMD."

Dell PowerEdge Servers, At a Glance

  Towers Rack Servers Blade Servers
Target Deployment General-purpose servers featuring remote manageability, expandability and deployment flexibility. Suitable for SMB and departmental needs as well as databases serving one to 100 users. Also suitable for small workgroups needing high-availability features and memory capacity to drive productivity Departmental needs, ideal for network infrastructure, Web applications, additional storage capacity and high-performing and demanding business applications Environments that need to consolidate computing resources to maximize efficiency, front-end mainstream business applications, virtualized environments demanding the utmost in performance/watt, memory-intensive applications, front-end HPC nodes, server consolidation, high-density environments running network infrastructure, Web applications, compute nodes, HPC applications, and file and print
Processor Types Intel Xeon processor 5500 series, Intel Xeon quad-core and dual-core, Intel Celeron (D), Intel Core Duo 2, Intel Pentium D dual-core, AMD Opteron dual-core and quad-core Intel Xeon processor 5500 series, Intel Xeon quad-core, dual-core and six-core, up to Six-Core AMD Opteron processors Intel Xeon processor 5500 series, Intel Xeon quad-core and dual-core, up to Six-Core AMD Opteron processors
Operating Systems Windows Server, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, Solaris, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer Windows Server, Red Hat Linux, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, Solaris, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer Windows Server, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, Solaris, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer
Servers T110
T310
T410
T610
T710
T105
T100
T300
2900 III
R210
R410
R510
R610
R710
R200
R300
R905
R900
R805
2900 III
2970
M605
M610
M710
M805
M905
M1000e
Entry Price From $478 From $749 From $1429

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he was originally from Scotland where he received a degree in Geology/Geography from the University of Strathcyle. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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