Data Center

Dell’s next-generation PowerEdge servers target AI inferencing | TechTarget

This story was updated on Jan. 18, 2023.

Following up on last fall’s AMD-based series of PowerEdge servers, Dell has debuted a slew of Intel-based PowerEdge systems targeting data centers, public cloud and edge environments customized to run data-intensive applications, including AI inferencing.

The latest systems, like last year’s, feature the company’s Smart Flow design, which lowers energy costs in larger centers. Smart Flow further reduces CO2 emissions and allows for greater airflow throughout the system without slowing overall performance, Dell said.

Dell has also expanded its Apex capabilities allowing organizations to take an improved as-a-service approach, allowing admins to more effectively leverage existing compute resources, the company said.

New additions to the PowerEdge series include the PowerEdge XE servers containing the Nvidia H100 Tensor Core GPUs and the Nvidia AI Enterprise software suite, which forms a full-stack, AI production platform. The hardware changes provide a performance improvement of 2.9 times greater than its predecessor for some models — such as the new R760 — when running AI inferencing, the company said.

Other new systems include the PowerEdge HS 5610 and HS5620, which are crafted specifically for cloud service providers that manage multi-vendor data centers. The systems, available in both 1U and 2U form factors, include cold-aisle configurations and can be optionally bundled with Dell’s Open Server Manager to streamline multi-vendor management.

Users can order any PowerEdge systems with NVIDIA’s Bluefield data processing units to get greater acceleration and workload isolation capabilities, which improves power efficiency when working with multi-cloud environments, the company said.

The PowerEdge R760, which features Intel’s Deep Learning Boost and Advanced Matrix Extensions, runs 20% faster in VDI environments and accommodates about 50% more SAP Sales & Distribution users on one server compared with last year’s systems.

Dell made improvements to its monitoring software and added new services to make server management easier, including: Dell CloudIQ, which now combines proactive monitoring, machine learning and predictive analysis, as well as a detailed view of servers no matter where they reside; and Dell ProDeploy Factory Configuration service, which ships systems with a user’s preferred operating system, hypervisor and BIOS settings.

PowerEdge with AMD’s EPYC chip

In November, Dell launched PowerEdge servers with AMD’s EPYC processors. The servers support up to 50% more processor cores and run some data-intensive workloads up to 120% faster than their predecessors, according to the company.

Adding the AMD chip to its server lineup is necessary to maintain pace with Dell’s x86-based server competitors and meet the expectations of corporate IT shops, according to experts.

Jack Gold, principal analyst, J Gold Associates LLCJack Gold

“Putting out EPYC-based systems is [Dell] keeping up with what all the larger systems providers are doing,” said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates LLC. “A few years ago, you would go with AMD because it was the cheaper alternative. But now vendors do so because AMD has a creditable product and their chips are a premium buy.”

Significantly boosting the performance of the new systems compared with the previous generation of PowerEdge systems should also give Dell added credibility among users looking to deploy more modern workloads.

“These performance improvements should enable customers to implement AI and HPC workloads, and so extract more value from their data and IT investments,” said Kuba Stolarski, research vice president at IDC’s infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies group. “Continued innovation is important if users are going to have the tools they need to address issues in a world that is growing increasingly data centric.”

The new series includes the PowerEdge R7625, a two-socket, 2U system designed to run data-intensive applications such as in-memory data bases; and the PowerEdge R7615, a one-socket, 2U server featuring faster memory bandwidth and reduced latency designed to accelerate AI workloads.

The other two systems include the PowerEdge R6625, a two-socket, 1U system intended for HPC workloads and running multiple virtual desktop instances; and the PowerEdge R6615, a one-socket, 1U server that features a smaller footprint to accommodate small to medium-size shops with space-constrained data centers.

Customers are getting to the point where they need something more sophisticated than just alternating cold and warm aisles in their data centers.
Kuba StolarskiVice president, infrastructure systems, platforms and technologies, IDC

“Each new generation of processors is becoming more and more power hungry, as companies layer in more resources on top of the chip,” Stolarski said. “Customers are getting to the point where they need something more sophisticated than just alternating cold and warm aisles in their data centers.”

Dell PowerEdge security

Security improvements include system lockdown, drift detection and multifactor authentication. The additions let the new systems operate more with end-to-end boot resilience, better ensuring security across an entire data center, according to the company.

Supplementing these security enhancements is the addition of an on-die AMD security processor. The chip works in concert with the EPYC chips, making it possible to deploy technologies such as confidential computing, Dell officials said.

This “security by design” approach by AMD also includes an embedded security subsystem that further protects data and builds on the AMD Infinity Guard security features, which offers both physical and virtual security.

The new Intel-based servers feature Dell’s Secured Component Verification technology, which verifies supply chain security from design to delivery. Also, the Intel systems contain multifactor authentication and is integrated with Dell’s iDRAC offering, which verifies users’ identity before granting them access.

Infinity Guard works in concert with Dell’s iDRAC offering to automatically record details of the servers’ hardware and firmware build at the time of manufacturing, allowing user organizations to verify that servers were not tampered with during their trip from the factory, Dell said.

“Building the added security capabilities directly into the system helps users better keep up with the proliferation of data spreading to environments where security threats are also growing,” Stolarski said.

“Their [AMD and Dell’s] approach has been to build security directly into the system, starting with the chip and working their way up the stack,” he added. “They are focusing hard on security and power management with this announcement because those are areas that can cost customers money.”

The model R7625 is available later this month, with the remaining new servers expected to be available in February.

As Editor At Large in TechTarget Editorial’s News Group, Ed Scannell is responsible for writing and reporting breaking news, news analysis and features focused on technology issues and trends affecting corporate IT professionals.