InfoWorld review: Dell R815 server makes heavy virtualization light on the wallet

The Dell PowerEdge R815 and its four 12-core AMD Opteron CPUs want to run many, many virtual machines, at a much lower cost than Intel multicore

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Although not unique to the R815, another compelling element to this server is the availability of the iDRAC6. It comes in three flavors, with the low-end Express unit offering a surprisingly capable lights-out administration package. Express includes integration with Active Directory for authentication, serial-over-LAN, boot screen and crash screen capture, and server power control, but lacks remote console capabilities and a dedicated network interface.

The Enterprise version adds these plus support for centralized management via Dell's OpenManage tools, remote file sharing, and virtual media support. The vFlash version includes everything the Enterprise version does and offers up to 8GB of local SD-based flash storage that can hold, for example, a fresh install version of the server OS, rescue images, or anything else that might be necessary to assist the server or recover from failure.

The Dell PowerEdge R815 won't be the fastest server in your data center as measured by core clock speed and single-threaded task completion times. But it will carry a significantly heavier load than the speedier boxes simply by the sheer number of available cores. The R815 would be right at home in a large virtualization farm or used as a warm-site virtualization host that can take on a heavy load if something happens to the production data center. It's a big box, but it'll also cost a lot less than you might otherwise think for a quad-socket server.

Dell PowerEdge R815

Cost Starts at $2,899 with two CPUs and 8GB of RAM; $14,170 as tested with four AMD Opteron 6174 2.2GHz CPUs, 64GB of RAM, six 2.5-inch 73GB 15K SAS drives, and iDRAC6 Enterprise embedded management.
Operating Systems Windows Server 2008 R2, Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Citrix XenServer, VMware ESX 4.1, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Oracle Solaris

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