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Dell Revisits Blades

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Dell Revisits Blades

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The third time, they say, is the charm.

Dell has just taken its third swing at blades, a field on which it’s struck out before, leaving IBM and HP to clean up.

This time, of course, is supposed to be different.

Among other things, Dell recruited one of HP’s finest to preside over development, the erstwhile general manager of HP’s BladeSystems business and CTO of its industry standard servers, Rick Becker – so if Dell’s latest entry looks kinda like its HP c-Class rival don’t be too surprised.

Becker must have given Dell a dose of HP’s R&D elixir and pried Dell’s cold dead fingers off its checkbook ‘cause Dell says it spent two years and 55,000 man-hours on the thing and applied for 30 patents.

What it got for its trouble is called the PowerEdge M-Series, a 10U that, it claims, uses 19% less energy than HP and delivers 28% better performance than IBM.

And claims of power and cooling savings – think maybe $2,600 a year per rack – get heard these days. Dell lays it down to efficient power supplies, clever component layout and air flow.

Anyway, the new M1000e chassis, which starts at $5,999 – which again is a little bit out of Dell’s classic price range – holds 16 half-high blades like the c-Class.

The blades currently on offer – starting at $1,849 – are the M600, which uses Intel’s 45nm and 65nm dual- and quad-core Xeons, and the M605, fitted for the moment with just AMD's dual-core Opterons.

Once AMD can supply quads that aren’t bedeviled it’ll have them too. Eventually Dell expects to offer full-sized blades.

The blades have eight DIMM slots or potentially 64GB of memory (if you can afford it). And they’ll support two SATA or SAS drives and a possible two dual-port mezzanine cards – Fibre Channel, gigabit Ethernet and 4x DDR Infiniband with 10 gigE down the road.

There’s also an integrated management controller and dual-gigabit Ethernet NICs embedded on the blades with integrated iSCSI and RDMA offload capabilities. .

Dell apparently saved a few bucks on the good-enough management software that comes bundled with the kit. Reviewers, however, like Illuminata’s Gordon Half, say the frill-less, “simple but straightforward” software does “a reasonable job covering the basics.”

And unlike either HP or IBM the thing is turnkey, amking it instantly more lovable.

It supports Windows and Linux and Solaris, if you must.

Since Dell doesn’t create markets, the M-Series probably says something about the maturing or mainstreaming of blades, the larger market, increased demand and greater revenue opportunities.


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