Designed to take on and beat RISC-based server alternatives, the PowerEdge R910 is all about memory, with support for a massive 1TB of RAM to cope with the demands of mission-critical web, database and virtualisation applications. Moreover, with a full complement of RAM to play with, the R910 can take full advantage of its Nehalem EX processing power across up to 32 cores in a four-socket configuration. Advanced RAS technologies are among other key features, particularly Machine Check Architecture, previously available only in mainframes and RISC-based servers and a first for an industry-standard platform such as this. The 4U chassis also affords space for plenty of storage and expansion options, with the usual array of manageability and service options completing a very capable Dell solution.
Up to four Xeon 7500 (Nehalem EX) processors and 32 cores; 1TB of memory; mainframe-like Machine Check Architecture and other RAS features; 4.8TB internal storage capacity; 10GbE NICs on motherboard; lots of PCI expansion slots.
VMware hypervisor support only; MCA dependent on host OS support.
4U rack-mount chassis, four hot-swap redundant 1100W hot-plug power supplies, four Intel Xeon eight-core X7550 processors (2GHz), 128GB DDR3 memory, Dell PERC H700 RAID controller, four 146GB 15K SAS hard disks, two 10GbE + two 1Gb NICs, bootable hypervisor with dual internal SD modules, iDRAC 6 Enterprise remote management controller with vFlash, 10 PCIe expansion slots, three-year on-site hardware warranty with four-hour response.
Dell's new PowerEdge R910 is, like the R810 before it, a rack mount server capable of accommodating four of Intel's latest Nehalem EX processors.
There, however, the similarities end. The R910 is a far more scalable beast, offering up to double the memory of its smaller sibling plus advanced Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) features, lots more storage and extra expansion options.
Designed to compete head-to-head with RISC based servers from the likes of Oracle and IBM, the PowerEdge R910 is a 4U server, giving Dell plenty of room to play with when it comes to what goes inside.
And, as we soon discovered, it really does make maximum use of that space, stuffing those 4Us full of goodies, starting with the four processor sockets into which go any of Intel's Xeon 7500 (Nehalem EX) series of multi-core chips.
Dell believes that most customers will buy the R910 with a full complement of processors onboard, as there's little point doing anything else on this class of server. All the more so given that the processors are likely to account for only a small part of the overall cost, which is something worth thinking about. More on this shortly.
The review system came with four eight-core Xeon X7550 chips installed, located under sizeable heat sinks low down in the bowels of the case. These offer 18MB of L3 cache plus support for Intel's HyperThreading and Turbo Boost technologies, but there are plenty of others to choose from with differing combinations of cores, clock speeds, cache and HyperThreading support.
Low energy 'L' processors are also supported, and you can choose cheaper X6500 processors, but only in a two-way setup and we doubt that many buyers will go for this option.
Added to which we'd strongly recommend discussing processor requirements with a Dell expert before buying, as processor choice can have a major impact on application performance. With so many different nuances to take into consideration, this is now almost a specialisation in its own right.