Dell Aims Four-Socket R930 Server at Unix Market

Company officials say the newest PowerEdge server will give organizations an alternative to Unix servers from the likes of HP, IBM and Oracle.

Dell server

Dell is taking aim at the lucrative but shrinking Unix system space with a new four-socket server that is targeting compute-intensive enterprise applications, including in-memory databases, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning.

The vendor's 4U PowerEdge R930, which delivers 22 percent better performance than its predecessor when running an ERP application, will be powered by Intel's upcoming next-generation high-end Xeon E7 v3 server chips and will feature a range of storage options, from hard drives to Dell's PowerEdge Express Flash NVMe PCI-Express solid-state drives (SSDs). The system will feature up to 20 percent more cores (72) and cache, and up to 6TB of memory over 96 DIMMs, according to company officials.

Dell also is offering organizations appliances based on the new server that are optimized for demanding enterprise applications. The company is creating Dell Engineered Solutions for SAP's HANA in-memory system, with HANA pre-integrated and preconfigured on the R930 servers, and will offer the Dell Acceleration Appliance for Databases (DAAD) based on the four-socket system that will accelerate any database application.

In addition, Dell is updating its Integrated Systems for Oracle Database with the R930, offering a pre-engineered and preconfigured combination of the server and DAAD for organizations that want to run Oracle 12c.

The x86 server space continues to grow, and two-socket systems will continue to be the most popular, according to Brian Payne, executive director of server platform product management and strategy for Dell. However, organizations are continuing to move their high-end enterprise applications off Unix platforms like IBM's Power systems and Oracle's Solaris solutions and onto lower-cost x86 servers, Payne told eWEEK.

According to IDC analysts, revenue for x86 servers in the fourth-quarter 2014 grew 7.l percent over the same period a year before, to $11.5 billion, and shipments jumped 2.9 percent. Dell held 21.1 percent of that revenue, IDC said in a report last month. Non-x86 servers saw continued revenue decline, falling in the quarter by 14 percent year-over-year, to $3 billion, accounting for 20.7 percent of all server revenue. It was the 14th consecutive quarter of decline in revenue for the market segment.

Payne noted the decline, but said the Unix space remains a significant opportunity.

"It's still a $9 billion market or more," he said.

Unlike most other x86 server vendors, Dell—unlike rivals Hewlett-Packard and Oracle—doesn't have a legacy Unix business to defend, Payne said, though after buying IBM's x86 server business last year, Lenovo is now a significant x86 server vendor.

"We're pure," he said. "You know that you're getting x86 from Dell, and that's what we'll be selling."

With the R930—the latest in Dell's family of 13th Generation PowerEdge servers—the company is offering flexibility in system storage. Organizations can choose among eight 2.5-inch Express Flash NVMe PCIe SSDs that offer as much as 3.2TB that deliver up to 10 times the input/output operations per second (IOPS) of traditional SSDs. Organizations also can run a mix of SSDs and hard drives, which will drive down the cost of the server by 23 percent over an all-SSD configuration, according to Payne. A mixed environment also will increase the performance by nine times over a system with only hard drives, he said.

Customers also will benefit by using Dell's recently updated OpenManage systems management software, reducing the configuration time by up to 99 percent and the time spent on manual inventory work by 91 percent, according to Payne.

In addition to the R930, Dell is expanding its four-socket server portfolio with new and enhanced systems. The company is updating its PowerEdge VRTX and M1000 converged platforms, and rolling out new FC830 and M830 blade servers, both aimed at such workloads as database, technical computing and virtualized environments. The FC830 is a half-height server block for the company's PowerEdge FX dense converged infrastructure solution, while the M830 is a full-height blade server.

Both will be powered by Intel's upcoming Xeon E5-4600 v3 processors.