Dell Server Puts Enterprise

By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2002-03-18 Print this article Print

Redundancy in 1U Footprint"> Dell Computer Corp.s newest two-way server, the PowerEdge 1650, offers better redundancy features than other servers in its class and boasts robust performance in a rack-optimized form factor. IT managers looking for an application server or a space-saving Web server application should consider the PowerEdge 1650.

The PowerEdge 1650, which began shipping earlier this month, is the first 1U (1.75-inch) server eWeek Labs has seen that offers hot-plug redundant power supplies. Although this is a common feature in enterprise-class servers with much bigger footprints, 1U servers havent offered redundant power because of their limited real estate and to save costs.

With an aggressive entry price of $1,699, the PowerEdge 1650 competes with 1U rack-optimized servers from Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM, among others. The entry configuration includes a 1.13GHz Pentium III processor, 256MB of RAM, a single 18GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, dual embedded gigabit NICs and an integrated Ultra160 SCSI controller.

Most 1U servers are less expensive than their enterprise-class counterparts, but the lack of system availability has prevented 1U servers use as application servers and computation nodes in storage area networks. The lack of redundant power forces IT managers to buy more servers to replace failed systems in Web farms. With the arrival of Dells server, we expect other vendors to follow suit, giving IT managers more flexibility when deploying these systems.

The PowerEdge 1650 uses the same ServerWorks HE-SL chip set found in Dells 2U (3.5-inch) servers. It supports two-way symmetric multiprocessing with Intel Corp.s CuMine (Copper Mine) Pentium III processors (for eWeek Labs May 21, 2001, review of Dells 2U 2550 server, go to

The configuration we tested, priced at roughly $6,100, included dual 1.26GHz Pentium III processors with 512KB of Level 2 cache, 1GB of error- correcting code static dynamic RAM and dual embedded copper Gigabit Ethernet adapters. We put a Dell Remote Assistant Card III with modem support (available separately for $649) in one of the two 64-bit/66MHz PCI slots (a $499 DRAC III without modem support is also available).

Although the DRAC III management card worked well in tests, offering remote access to the server via NIC or modem, wed like to see Dell offer an integrated management device, as Compaq does with its ILO, or Integrated Lights Out, processor in the ProLiant DL360 servers. Dell will offer an embedded solution starting in May, officials said.

The system we tested had an embedded PERC3 (PowerEdge Expandable RAID Controller Version 3)/Di dual-channel RAID controller with three Ultra160 (15,000 revolutions per minute each) 18GB hot-swappable hard drives. The PERC3/Di RAID controller comes as a daughtercard attached to the motherboard via a special connector, saving the PCI slot for fiber gigabit adapter, remote management cards or others. Competing 1U servers, including the ProLiant DL360, offer an integrated RAID controller in the motherboard. The daughtercard design allows Dell to provide more cache (128MB) than embedded RAID controllers and has an external storage connector to accommodate storage enclosures.

Expectedly Speedy

The PowerEdge 1650 outperformed its 2U predecessors—a PowerEdge 2550 with dual 1GHz processors and a PowerEdge 2450 with dual 733MHz processors—by a significant margin in tests using the Ziff Davis Media Inc. WebBench 4.0 benchmark, which measures the servers response to Web requests.

We used a static workload to measure the servers response time to Web client requests in high-transaction environments and used the embedded gigabit copper NIC to connect the server to a test network of 60 Windows 2000 Professional clients.

The 1650 achieved an impressive throughput of 7,671 tps (transactions per second), a 17 percent performance gain over the 6,355 tps logged by the 2550 and about 26 percent better than the 5,650 tps achieved by the 2450.

The 1650s better performance is mainly due to the bigger cache in the newer Pentium III processors. The 1.26GHz-and-faster processors have double the cache (512KB) of the 256KB in older Pentium III processors.

Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at


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