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Dell touts new blades' bang for the buck

The computer maker envisions the blades being used to replace large numbers of standalone servers, among other functions.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
2 min read
Dell is pitching its second blade server line to penny pinchers.

The Round Rock, Texas-based PC maker on Monday unveiled the PowerEdge 1855, a blade server that it says offers more performance and lower costs than its standard 1U, or 1.75-inch, rack mount servers.

Dell's aim in creating the dual-processor PowerEdge 1855 was to pack more computing power into a square foot, to bring down expenses and to finally make good on what it says is blade servers' unrealized promise of offering more bang for the buck.

As previously reported, up to 60 PowerEdge 1855 blades fit into a standard 42U, or roughly 6-foot, server rack, using six 12.25-inch chassis, each of which houses 10 blades. The blades stand side by side, like books in a bookcase, inside each chassis.

Dell says the PowerEdge 1855, which starts at $1,699, costs 25 percent less than its 1U rack-mount servers. The computer maker also says its blades will save more on utilities by consuming less power and generating less heat, requiring less air conditioning than its 1U servers. Blades are also designed to reduce the number of cables used and to take up less real estate in a company server room.

Dell envisions customers using the blades to replace large numbers of standalone servers, to serve Web pages, to host applications and even to crunch numbers in high-performance clusters.

At the same time, the blades also use the same management software, Dell OpenManage, as other Dell servers, saving IT staff from having to learn a new software package.

Dell is also getting some help from Microsoft, which separately on Monday said it would weave Dell OpenManage 4 into its Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003, giving Dell customers a single software tool for managing both hardware and software. The result, dubbed SMS 2003 Inventory Tool for Dell Updates, will be available in January 2005 as a free download for existing Dell customers. It will also come with the purchase of Microsoft SMS 2003, the companies said in a statement.

Dell will also offer customers services surrounding the new blades, such as installing the machines and installing software on them.

Given that PowerEdge 1855 blades start at $1,699 each and that each chassis costs $2,999, the starting price of a chassis with five blades is $11,494. A chassis with 10 blades starts at $19,989.

The blades can be configured with dual Intel Xeon EM64T processors, up to 16GB of DDR2 memory and dual hard drives.

Dell's first blade server came out in 2002.