A highly configurable platform capable of hosting all manner of applications, the R815 delivers enterprise level performance at a price that's more affordable to small businesses. The key selling point is support for up to 48 cores using AMD Opteron 6100 processors, enabling the R815 to more than match the similar Intel Xeon-based R810 in terms of performance. As with the R810, internal storage space is constrained by the 2U form factor but, with plenty of expansion slots, that shouldn't be an issue, plus you get much the same impressive bundle of management features as standard.
Up to 48 processing cores; AMD Opteron processors cheaper than comparable Intel Xeons; up to 512GB of memory; dual SD cards for hypervisor redundancy; hot swap disks, fans and power supplies.
Only six internal drive bays; VMware hypervisor only.
£9,632 (ex VAT) as reviewed
2U rack-mount chassis; dual redundant 1100W hot-plug power supplies; 4 x AMD 6174 12-core processors (2.2GHz, 6MB L2 cache, 115W); 64GB memory on 32 x 2GB DDR3 DIMMS; Dell PERC H700 RAID controller with 512KB battery-backed cache; 6 x 73GB 15K SAS hard disks (2.5in); 4 x Broadcom Gigabit NICs with TOE; dual internal SD modules; iDRAC 6 Enterprise remote management controller with vFlash; three-year on-site hardware warranty (next day)
Dell's PowerEdge R815 looks almost identical to the PowerEdge R810 server we reviewed earlier this year, and shares the same 2U chassis as well as many of the options and components.
However, whereas the R810 is Intel Xeon powered, the R815 is designed for AMD chips, with four sockets to take the latest Opteron 6100 series (Magny-Cours) processors.
Released in March 2010, the multi-core Opteron 6100s are the big guns of the AMD processor armoury, sporting either eight or 12 cores.
As such, it's possible to configure the R815 for up to 48-way processing, compared to a mere 32-way on the R810 using Intel's latest Xeon 7500 (Nehalem-EX) chips, currently capable of delivering up to eight cores per socket.
The AMD chips are also available with a lower power envelope than for Intel's Xeon 7500s which, depending on the exact processors used, can make the R815 cheaper to run.
Plus the chips themselves are a lot less expensive, and Dell is marketing the R815 as a "budget" solution for smaller companies wanting to maximise performance without breaking the bank.
Of course, the term 'budget' is relative, and server price will always depend on a lot more than just the processors. There's memory, storage and networking to take into consideration, not to mention additional redundancy and management options.
Indeed, to get the maximum benefit from the R815, most buyers will end up paying a lot more than the £4,469 starting price (ex VAT and shipping) quoted on the Dell web site.
That said, you don't have to spend a fortune to get the kind of performance and availability buyers now expect and, in our opinion, the R815 represents very good value for money.
This is amply demonstrated by the configuration Dell sent us, which came with four Opteron 6174 processors onboard.
Typical of the kind of setup many buyers will opt for, the 12-core processors really bump up performance without adding hugely to the price, and few buyers are expected to bother with less.
On the memory front, 64GB of DDR3 RAM clocked at 1,333MHz was installed on our test system, which is enough to handle a wide range of applications, including in-house web and database hosting.