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Dell PowerEdge M1000e review

HP and IBM think they have the blade server market sewn up. Dell says otherwise and in this exclusive review we fire up its latest PowerEdge M1000e in the lab and see how it stacks up.

The air flow path through the chassis has been designed to ensure that no one fan is responsible for any blade. Thermal sensors also keep an eye on all zones and if one gets hotter than the rest then the fans in that zone will speed up. It's also worth noting that, unlike HP, even Dell's basic specification includes all nine fan modules.

The chassis provides six interconnect bays which have been grouped into three separate, redundant fabrics. Fabric A is reserved for Gigabit switch blades whereas Fabrics B and C can accept Gigabit, 10GbE, fibre channel or Infiniband blades. In all cases, the two slots for each fabric must have matching blades or be empty.

Dell's offers a solid portfolio of interconnect options as you have Dell and Cisco Ethernet switches which, for 10GbE, offer fibre or copper CX4 ports. Brocade fibre channel blades are available as these can be licensed for 12 or 24 ports as required.

Multiple chassis can also be stacked and linked directly with Cisco switch blades. All these blades become one virtual switch and provide high bandwidth links for traffic between servers in different chassis. Dell is also the first to offer an FCoE mezzanine card for its server blades which currently requires its FC pass-through blade.

Overall, a good choice of interconnects although HP scores higher as its c7000 supports up to eight expansion slots. Fujitsu also does better as its BX900 S1 Dynamic Cube offers eight slots with four independent fabrics.

Build quality and design for the M1000e chassis are to a very high quality but Dell's server blades are amongst the best. We liked the fact that each one has a pull-out handle that's strong enough the carry the blade with. This feature speeded up deployment in the lab as we could easily carry two blades at a time.

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