Dell Boosts Speed With 1GHz Pentiums

By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2001-05-21

Dell Computer Corp.s latest two-way general-purpose server, the PowerEdge 2550, packs a pair of Intel Corp.s fastest Pentium III CPUs and robust performance in a rack-optimized form factor, making it a fine choice to handle front-end Web and application services in data centers and e-business environments.

The PowerEdge 2550 replaces the companys two-way PowerEdge 2450, incorporating several hardware upgrades that provide better performance and add expandability.

The PowerEdge 2550 uses Broadcom Corp. subsidiary ServerWorks Inc.s HE-SL chip set to support two-way symmetric multiprocessing. The HE-SL chip set has a 133MHz front-side bus with four-way interleaving architecture for faster memory throughput and supports peer-to-peer PCI buses (a 64-bit/66MHz bus, a 64-bit/33MHz bus and a 32-bit/33MHz bus) for improved I/O performance.

The PowerEdge 2550 also has a new embedded dual-channel RAID controller, the PERC3/Di, with 128MB of cache and battery backup. To keep the cost down, Dell did not include support for external storage arrays.

The system eWeek Labs tested included two 1GHz CuMine Pentium III processors with 256KB of L2 cache, 1GB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), an embedded Broadcom copper Gigabit adapter and an embedded Intel 10/100M-bps Ethernet adapter.

This is the first Dell server with an embedded Gigabit NIC, which frees a PCI slot that would normally be taken by a Gigabit PCI card for peripherals such as a remote management card.

The $9,995 system eWeek Labs tested also had a fiber Gigabit PCI adapter, and the embedded RAID controller had five Ultra 160 (15,000-rpm) 18GB hot-swappable hard drives.

Shipping since March, the Power- Edge 2550 starts at $2,179 and is priced competitively with rack-optimized servers from Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. A Compaq ProLiant DL380 server configured similarly to the Dell system we tested costs just over $11,000 (according to Compaqs Web site) and takes up more rack space with its 3U (5.25-inch) height, but the DL380 is slightly more expandable, with the capacity for six hard drives and four PCI slots. HPs LP2000r server has the same 2U (3.5-inch) form factor as the PowerEdge 2550 but offers more internal storage.

Dells PowerEdge 2550 outperformed its predecessor, a PowerEdge 2450 equipped with two 733MHz Pentium IIIs, by a significant margin on two Ziff Davis Media Inc. benchmarks.

In WebBench 4.0, using a static workload to measure server response to Web client requests in a high- transaction environment, the Power- Edge 2550 achieved 6,356 transactions per second, a 15 percent gain over the 5,364 tps logged by the PowerEdge 2450.

In NetBench 7.0, which measures throughput for file read and write requests from clients, the PowerEdge 2550 achieved 347M bps, compared with the 308M bps handled by the PowerEdge 2450, a file-serving performance gain of more than 11 percent.

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