Dell PowerEdge R815

Dell is the first blue chip to deliver a quad socket server using AMD’s new Bulldozer architecture. It looks like good value, so read Dave Mitchell’s review to see if it moves the earth.

Rather than use a USB port, the R815 can be booted into an embedded hypervisor using Dell's optional internal SD memory card controller, which is well worth the additional 60 cost. It provides two SD card slots and automatically keeps an onboard copy of the primary boot media in case of failure. The R815 also has a Lifecycle Controller' with 1GB of NVRAM to ease operating system installation it allows the server to be booted into Dell's UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) environment and deploy an OS without needing to use any boot media.

Dell PowerEdge R815

Two remote management options are available and the price shown here includes the full iDRAC6 Enterprise snap-in module that provides a dedicated network port and full remote access to the server. Note that the cheaper iDRAC6 Express module doesn't support full KVM-over-IP remote control or virtual media services, though.

AMD's main competition for its Opteron 6000 processors has always been Intel's Xeon 5600 and it beats them hands-down for the sheer core count. It's also a lot better value and more power efficient that current four socket Xeon 7500 systems. Intel's Xeon E5 is due to be announced at the beginning of March but for the moment, AMD has the upper hand in the server core wars and its Opteron 6200 makes Dell's PowerEdge R815 a fine choice for virtualisation and server consolidation duties.

Verdict

With its quartet of 16-core Opteron 6200s and high memory capacity, the PowerEdge R815 is a particularly good candidate for virtualisation and as a server consolidation platform. It packs a lot of useful features into its compact 2U chassis, has a high expansion potential, and is more power efficient and far better value than Xeon 7500 based systems.

Chassis: 2U rack

CPU: 4x 2.1GHz 16-core AMD Opteron 6272

Memory: 128GB DDR3 LV RDIMM expandable to 512GB

Storage: 6x 73GB Dell 15K SFF 6Gbps SAS hard disks in hot-swap carriers

RAID: Dell PERC H700 with 512MB cache and BBU

Array support: RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 50, 6

Expansion: 6x PCI-e 2.0

Network: 4x Gigabit

Power: 2x 1100W hot-plug supplies

Management: iDRAC6 Enterprise with VFlash/SD Card slot and 10/100 port

Software: Dell Management Console

Warranty: 3-year ProSupport on-site NBD

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