Dell EMC PowerEdge R740xd review

Dell EMC’s mighty PowerEdge R740xd debuts Intel’s core-heavy Skylake-SP Xeons

Editor's Choice
  • Massive CPU core count; Supremely versatile storage options; Top value; Quality design and build; Classy iDRAC9 management
  • OpenManage Enterprise still on the drawing board

Intel's Purley platform promises the biggest shakeup in the server world since the 'Nehalem' launch over eight years ago and in this exclusive review, we look at the first production server to show off Intel's new Skylake-SP Xeon Processor Scalable family.

On review we have Dell EMC's PowerEdge R740xd, which heralds in its 14th Generation PowerEdge series. It showcases a completely new architecture with even more storage options, enhanced system security and a radical revamp in the server management department.

Designed to support a wide range of business applications including VDI and software defined storage, the PowerEdge R740xd allows you to mix and match any type of drive in its chassis. With support for HDD, SSD, boot-optimized M.2 SSDs and up to 24 NVMe SSDs, it allows businesses to tailor storage precisely to their capacity and performance requirements.

Specs and hardware

The Xeon Processor Scalable family is enormous, with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum products targeting the performance, energy-optimized, 10-year extended life and Omni-Path Fabric sectors. You have two Bronze 31xx models, eight 41xx Silvers, six 51xx Golds, twenty-three 61xx Golds and twelve 81xx Platinums.

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All use the same LGA-3647 Socket P - so you can forget all about Xeon DP, MP, E5, E7 and so on, as these have now been merged into one product line. Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum CPUs all support dual socket deployments, Gold and Platinum support 4P configurations while Platinum supports 8P.

Our review system came with dual 2.1GHz Intel Xeon Gold 6130 CPUs delivering an impressive 32 physical and 64 logical cores. A big bonus of the Socket P implementation is that the R740xd supports all models, right up to the massive 28-core 2.5GHz 8180 Platinum Xeon.

All have six DDR4 memory channels, but only the Gold 5122, 61xx and Platinum CPUs support the faster 2,667MHz variety. Our server came supplied with 192GB of 2,667MHz memory, and its 24 DIMMs slots allow this to be expanded to 3TB.

Cooling technology

Cooling for this 2U chassis has been completely redesigned, with the more open honeycombed front bezel improving air flow. The server is available with 12 LFF or 24 SFF hot-swap front bays and the carriers have also been redesigned for better air flow.

It's no wonder Dell EMC had to redesign cooling, as this server is jam-packed with internal features. Six hot-plug fans link up with a multi-vector cooling feature, which senses when certified PCI-Express cards are installed and automatically adjusts the air flow to them.

A removable full-width tray takes four NVMe SSDs. Underneath this are two CPU sockets, fitted with big passive heatsinks and flanked by 24 DIMM slots. If you plan of expanding to 3TB of memory you must specify M-designated Gold or Platinum CPUs, as only these support 1.5TB of memory per socket.

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