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Next Generation Server Technologies

Next Generation Server Technologies

The newest generation of DellTM PowerEdgeTM  servers feature the latest technology advancements for industry-standard servers. By integrating these new technologies, Dell has designed servers for high performance, scalability and high availability. In addition, these are the most manageable PowerEdge servers ever.

Intel Xeon Processors with EM64T

8G Processor

Intel's latest Xeon processors feature EM64T technology which breaks the previous 4GB memory limit and is designed to provide an almost limitless flat memory addressing capability.

EM64T removes the need to have proprietary or application-specific memory management software manage memory above the 4GB limit. Without this extra layer, the server processor spends cycles managing memory and swapping data in and out of the 4GB limit for 32-bit memory addressability.

Customers that run applications like databases, CRM, ERP or e-commerce that regularly require large amounts of memory will find great scalability for their applications in a 64-bit mode because of the flat memory addressing. In addition, the processors feature a 1MB level 2 cache, which helps provide greater performance than previous generations by doubling the size of the level 2 cache, bringing more data closer to the CPU for even faster access.

Intel 7520 Chipset

The Intel 7520 chipset provides support for the new Xeon processors with EM64T and provides the memory controller management to deal with large amounts of memory. The front side bus, the path between the processor and memory, has been increased from 533MHz on previous models, to 800MHz on the latest generation. This faster front side bus helps move data faster between processor and memory, helping to speed up processing tasks - especially for memory-intensive applications like database, web applications and technical applications. To help provide higher availability, the chipset provides automatic retransmission of failed PCI Express packets, thus helping to reduce the likelihood of system failure based on bad data packets being exchanged over the PCI Express bus. Also focused on higher availability, the memory controller can failover from dual channel mode to single channel mode, which helps the system stay online even in the remote likelihood of a memory controller channel failure. These features are designed into the Intel 7520 chipset to help deliver better performance and higher availability for your server.

PCI Express

PCI Express

The next generation of PCI I/O is PCI Express. PCI Express is available in 4 implementations: x1, x4, x8 and x16, and is expected to provide greater reliability and more flexibility. In its x8 and x16 implementations, PCI Express is capable of delivering three to four times the throughput of PCI-X. PCI-X can handle the bulk of the server I/O peripherals today, but as new technologies like 10 Gigabit Ethernet and increased demands on SAN Host Bus Adapters drive the I/O bus, PCI Express will be able to handle the load: in its x16 implementation, PCI Express can deliver up to 64Gb/s of throughput. Because of the design of the PCI Express connectors, fewer pins are required - this translates into the potential for lower power consumption, lower cost and simplified designs - all leading to the potential for a more reliable server. The PCI Express bus has error checking to help protect it from errors, meaning that a data error may be corrected instead of having your server fail. The PCI Express technology is natively hot-pluggable, and there are no proprietary drivers needed like hot-plug PCI requires (but operating system and peripheral support are required components, however). Dell will support hot-pluggable PCI Express slots on the PowerEdge 2800.

DDR-2 Memory

8G DDR2

DDR-2 memory provides several benefits for customers, the first and most important benefit is higher density than the previous DDR memory. Higher density means greater memory scalability. The PowerEdge servers supporting DDR-2 memory will have support for 8GB of memory at launch. This memory capacity is expected to increase shortly after the launches of the new generation Dell PowerEdge servers, with support for 12GB (with 2GB single rank DIMMs) and then for 16GB (with 4GB DIMMs). In addition to the higher density, DDR-2 memory runs at 1.8V versus DDR which runs at 2.5V, which means your server has the potential to draw less power relative to previous generations. In a world where data center heating and power are becoming more of an issue, this is a welcome addition to the PowerEdge line.

Baseboard Management Controller (BMC)

8G BMC

All of the new PowerEdge servers feature a Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) that is designed to provide remote access to the server either over the network or via a serial cable. Through the BMC, a customer can manage their server remotely as if they were sitting at the console. The BMC allows administrators to monitor, manage and even shutdown/reboot their server if necessary. The BMC provides proactive monitoring and alerting if the system reaches user-defined thresholds for a variety of monitored functions. The management of the BMC is independent of the operating system or even the status of the server, allowing the administrator to access the server over the network even if the server has failed. The BMC is IPMI 1.5 compliant, allowing management by any management application that adheres to the IPMI standard.

Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI)

Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) is a cross-industry management standard that is designed to help improve manageability and drive more management interoperability across server hardware. The IPMI standard enables multi-vendor server management by standardizing management hardware, monitoring, alerting and communications. This helps customers better manage their servers by providing a common interface - administrators can be more productive because they have fewer tools to master. All new PowerEdge servers are IPMI 1.5 compliant.

Dell Remote Access Card

In addition to the standard BMC management controller in all of the latest generation PowerEdge servers, even further management capability can be delivered via the DRAC controllers. The DRAC controller is available in two varieties - a slot-less daughter card for the PowerEdge 1850, PowerEdge 2800 and PowerEdge 2850, and a PCI-based card for the PowerEdge 1800. The DRAC cards allow an administrator to manage the server from anywhere in the world via a serial port or Ethernet connection. Three key new features in the DRAC cards include:
  • Virtual floppy/CD - Administrators no longer need to run from server to server inserting media; they can simply use the DRAC card to redirect the server to a location on the network and the DRAC will access the disk images on the network and present them as an actual floppy or CD disc to the server. This can save countless hours of time updating servers remotely.
  • Continuous Video - The DRAC opens a session with the server and you are able to see everything on the console of the server in real time. If you reboot, you have continuous video, and you never lose your connection with the server. This allows you to see exactly what is happening on the remote console, even during the POST testing and startup screens.
  • Active Directory Integration - For customers using Microsoft®  Active Directory for security and authentication, the DRAC cards can access these network resources and utilize the data in active directory to determine who has access to manage which servers remotely. This streamlined feature helps minimize issues in assigning rights and helps ensure that if a problem does occur, the administrator will have no issues logging in remotely.

Common BIOS and Drivers

The PowerEdge 1850, PowerEdge 2800 and PowerEdge 2850 share a common system board and thus, share a common set of BIOS and driver files.

For customers managing large numbers of servers, it's not the hardware management that is time consuming, it's the software management. Sometimes over to 70% of an administrator's time that is spent managing server is spent dealing with the software and not the hardware. (Source: "Service Centric Computing: An Infrastructure Perspective, Outlook and Analysis," IDC, March 2003)

These 3 PowerEdge models allow you to create your software image and then deploy it in any form factor you like. This can be a source of tremendous time savings for administrators, and when it comes to software updates, they can be easily deployed as a single update to all three models simultaneously.

8G Common Drivers

Common SCSI Drive Carrier

All of Dell's latest generation of tower and rack servers will share a common drive carrier, allowing administrators to easily move data between systems and help minimize the number of spare drives required to be on hand. The drive interoperability, combined with the large 300GB drives that will soon be available, mean that moving large blocks of data will be able to be easily and quickly accomplished at UltraSCSI drive speeds instead of moving data via the network where you could be impacting the performance of the users. In addition, for servicing, only one type of drive is needed as the carrier is interchangeable with other Dell rack and tower servers. With interchangeable carriers, customers increase the odds that should a drive fail they will have the right replacement on hand.

Other New Technologies in PowerEdge Servers

In addition to these new server-specific technologies, you'll also find some more familiar technologies that have been added to the PowerEdge family to ease the tasks of managing and deploying servers. These features include:
  • USB 2.0 for high speed peripheral access; new PowerEdge servers are bootable from the USB port, allowing administrators to boot the server with a USB floppy, CD-ROM or USB memory key.
  • 300GB Ultra320 SCSI hard drives. These massive hard drives will more than double the capacity of the 146GB hard drives, doubling the internal capacity of Dell servers, providing you with the ability to store even more data with more room to grow.

8G Hard Drive

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Common Components Lower TCO
The latest generation of Dell PowerEdge servers help lower TCO by leveraging common components - both hardware and software
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