Dell is upgrading its line of two-way servers and workstations to make them ready for quad-core processors, the centerpiece of a number of hardware announcements the OEM is making around the extension of its hardware portfolio.
On the heels of introductions of two notebooks powered by chips from Advanced Micro Devices, Dell on Nov. 8 also is unveiling the first of its AMD-powered commercial desktop PCs.
The announcements come at a time when the Round Rock, Texas, system maker is working to regain the momentum of the past few years that had carried it to the No. 1 spot in global PC sales and made it the fastest-growing server maker.
That momentum has waned over the past year, illustrated by sagging financial results, a federal probe of the companys finances and rival Hewlett-Packard overtaking Dell as the global leader in PC sales. However, the past six months have seen a strong push by Dell to remake itself, most starkly by the adoption of AMD technology after almost three years of steadfastly standing by its Intel-only mantra.
Selling into the enterprise is key, given that corporate hardware sales account for 80 percent of Dells revenues, according to the company.
The latest moves illustrate that aggressive push. Dell, which in October unveiled its first Opteron-based servers, is among the first OEMs to offer servers that are quad-core ready. Customers can now order the PowerEdge 1950, 2900, 2950 and SC1430 servers, and the 1955 rack server, which will be delivered once Intel makes its upcoming quad-core Xeons available. That is expected to happen this month.
The quad-core technology and the enhanced management capabilities and features that offer easier maintenance, improved price/performance and better energy efficiency are keys differentiators going forward, said Stori Waugh, senior marketing manager for Dells PowerEdge systems.
Quad-core systems will bring four-socket performance to lower-cost dual-socket systems, Waugh said. The result will be two-socket systems that are powerful enough to handle such tasks as virtualization and server consolidation.
“This is the beginning of the end of the four-socket [server],” Waugh said. “Four or five years from now, the four-socket market will be half of what it is today.”
That would play into the vision Dell has of the future data center, one populated with smaller systems linked together to create power computing environments. In virtualized environments, the new quad-core servers improve virtual machine performance by 44 percent and can host 33 percent more virtual machines than the current dual-core systems, she said.
Pricing for the quad-core servers will start at $1,049. For the quad-core Precision workstations—the 390, 490 and 690—pricing starts at $2,149.
In the corporate desktop space, Dell is unveiling the first of its AMD-powered OptiPlex systems. These new desktops are geared toward business users.
Key to the new desktops is the improved energy efficiency they offer, Waugh said. The enhanced efficiency could save enterprises as much as $50 per desktop per year, a large number considering some of the larger businesses can field as many as 20,000 desktops, she said.
The OptiPlex 740 is Dells first business desktop to come with AMD processors. The company is offering both the dual-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ and single-core 3500+ processors.
The Athlon single-core processor runs at 2.2GHz, while the dual-core runs at 2.6GHz. The desktops start at $658 with the single-core and then increase to a base price of $725 for the dual-core.
The OptiPlex comes with 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. The memory can be increased to 4GB, while the hard drive can increase to as much as 250GB.
The AMD-based OptiPlex comes in both a desktop and minitower design, and Dell officials said they will offer an 18-month product life-cycle support package.
In addition to its AMD-based desktop, Dell rolled out the OptiPlex 320 desktop, which uses Intels Pentium D dual-core processor, which runs at 3.4GHz. The 320 comes with 256MB of RAM standard and an 80GB hard drive. The starting price, according to Dell, is $585.
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