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Dell sneaks speeds-and-feeds-free peek at 14th-gen PowerEdge servers

Ooooo! Hemmed edges!

Dell EMC World Dell EMC has previewed the 14th generation of its PowerEdge server line, indicating there will be significant incremental advances in performance and usability, but with an almost complete absence of any product details.

The new boxes will use the upcoming Intel Xeon Processor Scalable family. Apart from that we're told the 14G server line has innovation in three areas:

  • Scalable business architecture
    • Increase application performance and response time with 19 times more Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) low latency storage than before
    • One-click BIOS tuning enables fast deployment of many processing-intensive workloads
    • Enhanced storage capacity and flexibility, said to be critical in a software-defined storage (SDS) environment
  • Intelligent automation via expanded APIs and a new OpenManage Enterprise console
    • OpenManage Enterprise is a new virtualized enterprise system management console with application plugins, an easy-to-use interface and customisable reporting
    • An enhanced iDRAC 9 provides up to four times better systems management performance over the prior generation
    • ProSupport Plus with SupportAssist can reduce time to resolve parts failure by up to 90 per cent
    • Automatic multi-vector cooling enables more GPU accelerators in a single configuration, increasing up to 50 per cent more VDI users per server
  • Integrated security
    • System Lockdown, claimed to be an industry-first feature, prevents configuration changes that create security vulnerabilities and expose sensitive data
    • Features such as SecureBoot, BIOS Recovery capabilities, signed firmware and iDRAC RESTful API (compliant with Redfish standards) provide enhanced protection against attacks
    • System Erase quickly and securely erases user data from drives or wipes all non-volatile media when a server is retired

Joe Wiese, a Rackspace hosting system design engineer, provides a great quote:

I totally love the new iDRAC 9. The new version is quite comprehensive and can be used to configure most everything for managing and maintaining the servers. The web front-end can view and edit the iDRAC, the PERC, the NICs and the BIOS all through a single web interface that is also Redfish compliant for scripting via API calls. It is hands-down the single greatest addition to PowerEdge that I have encountered.

The single greatest addition to PowerEdge he has encountered is the updated iDRAC.

Prepare to be amazed

We are given, though, details of almost inconsequential server developments. Feast your eyes on this trio of goodies:

  1. A new streamlined front profile moves air efficiently, optimising power for application performance – oh, wow
  2. Server configuration and monitoring is now possible via a handheld smart device with Quick Sync feature
  3. Introduction of hemmed edges as a structural element, eliminates the use of paint on the server reducing environmental impact – words fail us here

Hemmed edges, better holes in the bezel, and handheld device usage for server config and monitoring – just... wow... who said Dell lacked high-tech innovation flair?

One performance detail

We do learn that PowerEdge 14G enables up to 50 per cent more VDI users per server. This is backed up by Dell EMC testing and approving a maximum of three Nvidia GPUs in the 14G R740xd server compared to two GPUs in 13G R730 server. The Nvidia Tesla M10 GPU Accelerator supports up to 64 users per GPU board by the way.

Dell says PowerEdge 14th generation servers will be embedded in storage and data centre appliances, hyper-converged appliances and racks, ready nodes, bundles and other Dell EMC products. Well, yes.

What's absent here is anything with fancy and cutting-edge tech, like composable infrastructure, cartridge servers (Aparna), or NVMe-over-fabrics-speed clustered servers (Micron, Excellero, X-IO and Axellio).

There's no mention of Optane and storage-class memory, although that will probably come when the 14G server details are rolled out.

This is a solidly mainstream and enterprise data centre-centric preview of a server line refresh that absolutely has to be accepted by existing customers, and there's nothing untoward about that.

Additional details and pricing information on the Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th Generation servers are expected to be available by mid-2017. That's not too long to wait. Meanwhile, you can check out a Dell server exec 14G blog here. ®


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