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Dell used to offer lower-end servers at low cost. In the past decade, it has advanced steadily up the server food chain to be strong in the mid-market and enterprise sectors. It has even released a competitively priced family of high-performance computing (HPC) servers, known as the PowerEdge C Server line.

The C6145, for example, is a two times four-socket (up to 128 processor cores) rack server that comes in a 2U form factor. It contains up to 1TB of RAM per chassis and up to 36TB of storage. According to Dell, the C6145 delivers unmatched performance per U compared to the HP ProLiant DL980 G7 and unmatched performance per dollar compared to the IBM x3850 X. It is aimed at HPC applications that require high core count, a lot of memory and I/O expansion, such as cloud computing solutions and ultra-dense data centers.

While the C6145 sits at the high end of the C Server line, the entry model is the PowerEdge C1100. It comes with 18 DDR3 memory slots for a 2-socket Intel Xeon 5500/5600 processor, which enables up to 144 GB of memory. On the storage side, it provides a choice of 4 inches by 3.5 inches or 10 inches by 2.5 inches hot-plug front-loaded hard drive slots. Enterprise-class single-level cell (SLC) solid-state drives (SSDs) are also available. These servers can offer up to 8 TB of storage. These servers have been optimized to provide only the features specifically needed for such functions as Web 2.0, gaming, HPC and cloud-building environments.

This may be Dell's first excursion into the land of HPC. Based on the company's history, however, expect it to find a way to expand its presence in this segment of the market.

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