Dell provides graphics cards to boost blade server performance

Optional GPUs with Dell's new PowerEdge blade servers should speed up performance in specific-use cases

Dell on Wednesday announced it will offer graphics processing units with a new blade server to boost overall application performance.

The company is providing optional graphics cards with the new PowerEdge M610x blade servers, said Brian Payne, director of server product management at Dell. GPUs are quicker at executing certain general-purpose and high-performance computing tasks than traditional CPUs, which could reduce the strain on computing resources, HE said.

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"In high-performance computing, GPGPU (general-purpose GPU) usage is offloading what used to be a bank of servers into a single card," Payne said.

The blades include two full-length PCI-Express slots that will be able to accommodate up to two 250-watt graphics cards. The server will support a range of GPUs, including Nvidia's latest Tesla cards, Payne said.

A single M610x with a Nvidia Tesla can provide 400 gigaflops of peak performance to meet demanding workloads, Dell said. The two-socket server will be based on Intel Xeon 5500 and 5600 quad-core or six-core CPUs and support up to 192GB of memory.

GPUs typically generate more heat than CPUs, and the M1000e blade chassis is being equipped new power supplies and cooling fans, company officials said.

Dell already provides a workstation it calls a "personal supercomputer," which pairs Nvidia GPUs with CPUs to provide 1.8 teraflops of performance. Like Dell, other computer makers are warming up to the idea of including GPUs in servers. IBM recently announced it would offer Nvidia's Tesla M2050 GPUs with its iDataPlex dx360 M3 scale-out server.

Dell also announced the two-socket PowerEdge M710HD with expanded memory capacity to boost application performance. This could help expand virtualized environments or speed up database performance through in-memory execution.

There will be 18 slots per blade, which will provide more memory footprint in a single blade enclosure, Payne said. The number of memory slots is higher than previous-generation of comparable servers, Payne said. The company didn't immediately comment on the total memory capacity. The server will run Intel's quad- and six-core Xeon 5500 and 5600 processors.

The PowerEdge M610x and M710HD will be available worldwide in July, with prices pricing starting at $2,269 and $2,474 respectively.

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