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 M910 has 32 DIMM slots and can support up to 512GB of memory regardless of whether you use 6500s or 7500s and Dell has achieved this by implementing its own FlexMem Bridge technology. If you populate two sockets with 6500s, the spare sockets are fitted with special boards. These terminate the QPI links and extend the memory channels to the populated sockets allowing them to access all DIMM slots.

For local storage all server blades support 2.5in SFF drives and Dell offers SATA, 6Gb/sec SAS and SSDs. All blades have an embedded PERC RAID controller complete with onboard cache memory and can be upgraded with an optional battery backup pack.

HP, IBM and Fujitsu all offer dedicated storage blades which work with adjacent servers but Dell thinks this is a waste of valuable chassis space. We tend to agree as a key feature of these systems is massive server density so dedicating one slot purely for local storage is an expensive luxury.

Consequently, Dell focuses on presenting large amounts of storage to its server blades via external FC or IP SAN arrays. Ideally, this would be achieved using its EMC or EqualLogic disk arrays and server blades can be diskless if required as they all support iSCSI and FC boot functions.

Dell was first to add a bootable SD memory card for virtualisation fans and it's gone one further as you now get two of them on all its server blades. Dell advised us that customers wanted redundancy so you can now keep an onboard copy of the boot media in case it fails. Note that Dell still only supports VMware's ESXi and not Hyper-V.

All server blades come as standard with a pair of embedded Gigabit ports which connect directly to Fabric A. For connection to Fabrics B and C, the half-height blades support two mezzanine cards whilst the full-height models support up to four allowing them to offer a wide choice of bandwidth and connection options.

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