Dell's cloud computing blog recently noted that "the unique needs of hyperscale customers demand a hands-on (and often very discreet) co-development approach." That discretion has perhaps allowed competitors, including IBM's iDataPlex server, to quickly achieve higher visibility in server design for cloud computing.
So this week, Dell has taken the wraps off one of its custom server designs for cloud and hyper scale computing, known as the XS23 Cloud Server.
Here's an overview from Todd Brannon of Dell Data Center Solutions: "This product was designed for a customer that needed maximum compute density, a healthy amount of local disk and, of course, lowest power draw possible," Brannon writes. "Our architecture team threw all that in the blender and out came a 2U standard rack mount chassis that houses four dual-socket servers and twelve 3.5" hot plug drives."
Here's some additional detail:
Density of this type is certainly not unheard of (half depth or twin 1U's), but by going to a 2U chassis we were able to fit it with larger, more efficient fans and stack 3 rows of full 3.5" drives across the front. So, even with a 25% higher density than general purpose blades, it provides three local spindles of 3.5" SAS/SATA disk to each server. Of course there are tradeoffs. This was expressly designed for an environment with high node failure tolerance - a cloud application. By designing out a lot of the capabilities that weren't required (like redundant power) we were able to deliver the performance and power profile required. Efficiencies are gained by shared resources - as seen in a lot of general purpose designs available today.
The XS23 Cloud Server is not generally available, and "not completely productized to bear a PowerEdge badge." Dell promises to share additional designs optimized for cloud architectures in the near future.