Dell's PowerEdge microservers take shape

Dell's new PowerEdge microservers are single-socket, low-power servers aimed at cutting energy bills

Dell on Tuesday is set to announce low-power PowerEdge servers that can quickly band together to execute transactions more efficiently than traditional servers, which use faster, but more power-hungry chips.

The one-socket PowerEdge C5220 and C5125 servers, also called "microservers" by Dell, also share components inside a dense chassis while coalescing to provide better performance-per-watt than traditional servers, company executives said.

The new PowerEdge servers are built for customers looking to host Web, print, content or file servers, said Deania Davidson, product marketing manager at Dell. Davidson said that the servers are suited for Web hosting, where providers will be able to offer dedicated or shared hosting services while sticking within the power and space constraints of a data center.

Dell's Data Center Solutions division already offers a server based on Via's low-power Nano processors, and the new servers are more powerful. The PowerEdge C5220 will run on Intel's recently announced Xeon E3-1260L and Xeon E3-1220L processors, which consume 45 watts and 20 watts of power, respectively. The low-power Xeon chips include features found in traditional server chips including 64-bit support, error correction features and hardware-based virtualization support. The PowerEdge C5125 will run on Advanced Micro Devices' Phenom or Athlon dual- or quad-core chips.

The Intel version of the new servers are Dell's first to use the Xeon E3-1200-series chips, which were unveiled last week at an event where the chip maker outlined its microserver strategy. Intel at the time said microservers would take 10 percent of the server market over the next four to five years.

The servers can share components such as power supplies, fans and network connectors inside a densely packed 3U chassis. Dell's C5000 rackmount enclosure, which has a height of 44.8 centimeters (17.6 inches) and depth of 75 cm, can accommodate up to 12 PowerEdge C5220 or C5125 single-socket servers.

Low-power servers for activities like cloud computing have also been built by companies such as SeaMicro, which recently announced the SM10000-64 server. The server packs 256 Atom N570 dual-core processors, and is being targeted at data centers that handle a large volume of Internet transactions, such as e-mail, search and social networking.

The PowerEdge C5220 will also run on Intel's dual-core Core i3-2120 PC processor, which draws up to 65 watts of power. The server will support up to 32GB of memory and up to 4TB of SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) or 2.4TB of serial-attached SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) storage. Dell said the server would become available worldwide by the end of May, but could not immediately provide pricing.

The PowerEdge C5125 running on AMD chips will support up to 16GB of memory and up to 4TB of SATA storage. The server will ship by the end of April. Pricing is not immediately available.

The OS options for the servers include Windows Server, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0.

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