Dell PowerEdge C6145 Uses New AMD Opteron Chips

Dell is taking advantage of new AMD Opteron processors in its new PowerEdge C6145 server, which places 96 cores and up to 1TB of storage into a 2U chassis.

Dell is among a number of server makers expected to take advantage of new Opteron processor offerings from Advanced Micro Devices.

AMD on Feb. 14 is rolling out five new Opteron 6100 Series chips that offer high core counts and speed bumps that continue to push the company's drive for greater performance and lower power consumption. The new chips include the 12-core 6166 HE for dense form factors and blade systems, the mainstream Opteron 6176-AMD officials say the mainstream chips account for about 80 percent of the Opterons sold-and the 6180 SE, for high-end workloads like HPC (high-performance computing) and large databases. Frequencies range from 1.8GHz for the 6166 HE to 2.5GHz for the 6180 SE.

The new eight-core chips are the Opteron 6140 and 6132 HE. Clock speeds for these chips processors are 2.2GHz and 2.6GHz, respectively.

"These are pretty straight-forward speed bumps," Steve Demski, product manager for AMD's Server Division, said in an interview with eWEEK. "With these speed bumps, we maintain our performance lead [over rival Intel]."

Dell is taking advantage of these new chips. The systems maker is updating 17 PowerEdge servers with chips from both AMD and Intel, the company announced Feb. 14. However, at the center of Dell's push is the introduction of the new PowerEdge C6145, a system aimed at the HPC and hyper-scale spaces that offers two four-socket nodes in a 2U (3.5-inch) chassis. The C6145 can put 96 cores and 1 terabyte of storage into the 2U space, and offers a shared infrastructure design, where such components as power supplies are shared by the two nodes.

Dell officials said the new system offers 50 percent more cores, memory and density than traditional four-socket servers.

According to Tim Carroll, director and global lead of research computing at Dell, the C6145 was created out of a growing demand not only from HPC organizations, but also enterprises, for greater compute density to save data center space, but without increasing power costs. The AMD Opteron 6100 Series processors are helping Dell meet that demand, Carroll said in an interview with eWEEK. Armando Acosta, PowerEdge-C product manager for Dell, agreed.

"AMD has the cores, but it also has the power envelope," Acosta said in an interview.

The new Opterons have power envelopes ranging from 65 to 105 watts. The C6145 can run the 12-core 6176 and 6180 SE, and eight-core 6136.

Both Dell executives said their new system, which will start shipping Feb. 28, fits growing trends in the industry. With the growing adoption of cloud computing and virtualization technologies, enterprises are demanding the same sort of high-performance, low-power cost, and small-footprint systems as HPC organizations. And for the most part, customers don't care if the chip inside the systems are AMD or Intel, as long as they're x86.

"As people start getting really serious about virtualization ... that's when people start getting really interested in these kinds of densities," Carroll said. "HPC will intersect with the enterprise."

The Dell officials said there are a host of industries that will benefit from such high performance in a small form factor, from financial services to oil and gas to health care.

Other key features include InfiniBand and 10 Gigabit Ethernet support and low-voltage DDR3 memory. It also leverages the same motherboard found in the PowerEdge R815 rack system, giving users a consistent hardware platform, the officials said. Dell had to make some slight modifications to offer such density, but having that consistent platform rather than building a new server from the ground up eases customers' minds when looking at a new system, Carroll said.

"It takes the risk out of it for them and us," he said.