Dell carves out new servers from 10-petaflop supercomputer

Dell's new C8000 series servers start at $35,000

Dell announced servers based on designs the company is implementing in an upcoming 10-petaflop supercomputer called Stampede, which will be fully deployed at the University of Texas, Austin, starting next year.

The PowerEdge C8000 servers use standard Intel x86 CPUs and offer the flexibility to include graphics processors or more storage to improve performance on database, high-performance computing or cloud workloads. Customers will have the ability to mix and match graphics processors, storage, memory and other elements inside servers, depending on their computing needs, said Armando Acosta, product manager at Dell.

Some of the inspiration for the new family of servers came from the supercomputer called Stampede, which is under development at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas. The server, which will be deployed next year, will use Intel's Xeon eight-core E5-2600 processors and co-processors code-named Knights Corner, which will speed up scientific and math calculations. The Stampede supercomputer is a compilation of thousands of C8000-series servers with a total of 272TB of memory and 14 petabytes of storage.

The C8220 server chassis can have up to eight blade servers, with each server containing between two CPUs with up to 16 processing cores, two internal hard drives and other storage and networking options. The server is targeted for hosting services, Web serving and other cloud applications, Acosta said. The C8220X is a more advanced version of the C8220 with more RAM and storage, and also an option to add graphics processors. All the servers have shared components.

The new PowerEdge servers can also be hooked up to the new C8000XD storage box for expandable hard drive or SSD storage.

Dell and the Texas Advanced Computing Center worked together on Stampede, and the design for the C8000 servers blossomed as the supercomputer came to fruition, Acosta said.

"We did have a good starting point and building block," Acosta said. Dell also took a page from old server designs.

The servers are designed for deployment in highly parallel computing environments. The ability to fit graphics processors provides the capability to offer better performance-per-watt, and internal hard drives provide more storage density. The expandable storage box provides helps provide more long-term storage or caching for databases, Acosta said.

Dell offers reference architectures for Hadoop for distributed computing and OpenStack for cloud deployments.

The C8220 will start at US$35,000 with eight blade servers in the chassis. The starting price for the C8220X is around $42,000, while the C8000XD storage box starts at around $25,000 to $27,000.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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