Dell is converting its Precision desktop workstation into a rack-mounted system that will move more computing into the data center. The Dell R5400 workstation server is equipped with Intel Xeon processors and will compete against IBM and HP blade-based workstations.
Dell is moving its Precision workstation into the data center.
On July 22, Dell introduced the Precision R5400, a rack-mount workstation
server that is based on a previous Dell workstation, but in this case the
company is looking to move the hardware from under a desk and into the data
center, which frees up space and adds a layer of security by centralizing the
location of the data.
IBM and other vendors have been offering workstations
that are housed in
the data center, but that are based on blade architecture, for some time. Dell
based its workstation on an existing piece of hardware, the
Precision T5400 desktop workstation,
and converted the desktop model into a
2U (3.5-inch), two-socket rack-mount server.
This approach to a more centralized computing infrastructure allows Dell to
differentiate its products from the blade workstations offered by IBM,
HP and ClearCube
and it also allows customers more flexibility in fitting the
Precision R5400 workstation system into a standard data center rack.
Michael Basore, a senior product manager for Dell, said the company also
redesigned the motherboard of the Precision R5400 to provide for two PCI
Express x16 graphics cards, which means the hardware
can support graphics from both Nvidia and ATI.
"You can choose our graphics cards and can put them into the
system," Basore said. "You are not limited in your graphics choices
the same way you are limited in a blade architecture. Since it's a 2U form
factor you also don't have to worry about enclosures or other investments. It's
a very different approach from what our competitors have taken with
In addition, Basore said he believes that Dell would have a difficult time
competing against the likes of HP and IBM
when it comes to a blade-based workstation because HP and IBM combined control about 75 percent of the world's blade market.
Since IBM and HP are pursuing customers
in the financial industry with their blade workstations, Lloyd Cohen, an
analyst with IDC, said he believes Dell is
looking at more vertical markets such as health care. In that case, patient
information is protected in the data center, but the workstation provides the
graphics and processing power to render high-resolution medical images.
"The blades that are out there now have been designed for the financial
industry and have limited success so far," Cohen said. "Dell is going
after much more vertical markets. They are looking at medical imaging and
factory floors and really they are going after much larger segments."
The workstation market is worth about $5.3 billion annually, and Dell, HP
and Lenovo, which continue to make traditional desktop workstations, are also
pursuing workstation sales since the margins are double those of sales
associated with traditional desktop PCs. While Dell and other vendors also sell
mobile workstations, these high-end notebooks do not offer the type of power
that a traditional desktop workstation can produce.
In addition to graphics, Dell is also looking to improve remote access to
the R5400 with the FX100 Remote Access Device. The
FX100 uses chip technology from Teradici.
This silicon-based technology
allows for what Dell and Teradici call "PC over IP," which compresses
rendered display data and USB signals into a
digital format and then sends a signal from a company's network through an IP
network to the desktop. This also allows a Precision R5400 to support two
The Teradici chip technology is also used with IBM's
blade workstation and with ClearCube's PC blades. The Dell Precision 5400 also
works with a standard 1 Gigabit Ethernet cable.
In addition to the remote access capabilities and graphics, the Dell
Precision R5400 also supports dual- and quad-core Intel Xeon processors, up to
32GB of RAM, two SATA (Serial ATA) hard disk
drives with a combined capacity of up to 2TB, and either Microsoft
Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
The Dell Precision R5400 starts at $1,869 and the
FX100 remote device sells separately for $800, according to Dell. The displays
for the workstation are also sold separately.