Dell Expands HPC Portfolio With PowerEdge C6320 System

The new PowerEdge server offers high performance and power efficiency in a 2U chassis that targets the HPC, hyperscale and Web-hosted spaces.

Enterprises increasingly are looking to the high-performance computing market for systems that will enable them to better run their big data and analytics workloads, according to Brian Payne, executive director of Dell's Server Solution unit.

The tech vendor next month will begin selling the PowerEdge C6320, a powerful, highly dense and energy-efficient system that Payne said will deliver up to two times the performance of competitive offerings when running leading high-performance computing (HPC) benchmarks. It also offers up to 28 percent better power efficiency, he told eWEEK.

Dell officials are targeting the new system not only at HPC and big data workloads, but also hyperscale and Web hosting environments.

The C6320 is designed to offer a mix of compute and storage capabilities in four independent server nodes in a 2U (3.5-inch) chassis. The systems are powered by Intel's latest Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors, which offers up to 18 cores per socket—or up to 144 cores per chassis—up to 312GB of DDR4 memory and up to 72TB of flexible local storage. In addition, it now comes with Dell's iDRAC8 with Lifecycle Controller, which enables organizations to automate routine management tasks and make it easier and faster to deploy, monitor and update the servers.

The new system comes as the HPC field continues to grow, and organizations increasingly demand more performance from servers that are smaller and more energy-efficient. They're space-limited, increasingly using accelerators—such as GPUs—and are dealing with the rapid pace of code optimization and the cost of code development. At the same time, hyperscale data center operators are looking for similar capabilities in the hardware they're putting into their massive facilities, while enterprises need performance, density and power efficiency for their big data and analytics workloads.

For the most demanding of these workloads, organizations can use the C6320 with the PowerEdge C4130, which is packed with GPU accelerators, Payne said. The system provides up to 33 percent better GPU accelerator density than competitive offerings, and 400 percent more PCI-Express GPU accelerators per processor per rack than a comparable system from Hewlett-Packard, according to Dell officials.

It also can offer more than 7.2 teraflops of performance on a single 1U (1.75-inch) server and comes with a performance-per-watt ratio of up to 4.17 gigaflops per watt.

Payne said he expects the HPC market will continue to expand rapidly. IDC analysts last year noted that HPC system shipments had been flat, but expected the market to see growth of 7.3 percent between 2013 and 2017, with revenue hitting more than $14 billion.

The hyperscale market also is a key driver in the growing server industry. In a report in May, IDC analysts said organizations in the hyperscale space continue to buy density-optimized servers, with Al Gillen, program vice president of servers and system software at IDC, saying at the time that the analysts "continue to see a market profile that is increasingly driven by new compute deployment scenarios, often in hyperscale data centers."

In addition, the converged systems space will grow quickly. Sales of hyper-converged systems will increase 116.2 percent this year over 2014 and will see a 59.7 percent growth rate between 2014 and 2019, with sales reach more than $3.9 billion, according to IDC.

"It's going to be a fast-growing market," Dell's Payne said.

The PowerEdge C6320 will help address demands in the hyper-converged area as well, he said. With the integrated iDRAC8 management software, the C6320 can be used as a platform for Dell's hyper-converged offerings, including the Engineered Solutions for VMware EVO:Rail and XC Series of appliances for Web-scale environments that include Nutanix's storage management capabilities.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, is using 27 racks of C6320 compute nodes as part of its Comet petascale supercomputer. In all, the center is using 1,944 nodes, which house 46,656 cores, helping Comet provide five times the compute capacity of its previous HPC system. Michael Norman, principal investigator for the Comet project, said in a statement that the center chose the PowerEdge C6320 systems "because of Dell's reputation in the HPC space, its leading hardware design and innovations, and for its ease of deployment."

The C6320 system and the converged EVO:Rail appliances with the system will both be available in July, according to Dell officials. The XC Series with the C6320 will be available in the fourth quarter.