On Dell R900

We recently got Dell R900 box to use as a benchmarks so in addition to looking remotely to a lot of them we could pick an eye inside.

Inside it is nicely designed box with everything pluggable.   It has 32 memory slots making it possible to get 128GB of memory with less expensive 4GB DIMMs.   It takes 4 quad core CPUs and comes by default with 4 network interfaces….  It really looks like it is designed to be  virtualized as 4 boxes in one.    Indeed you can get 4 virtual slices with 4 cores each, dedicated network card and 32GB of memory.  It also has plenty  of PCI-E slots for extensibility.

What I did not like though (and this is my general concern with Dell/HP/IBM/Sun) – They have very low limit on number of external drives.    This is 4U box which is  twice as high as PowerEdge 2950 but it still only takes 8 2.5 inch drives.   The rest of space is used just for the fan holes.

I do not believe this is done for cooling reasons, especially as SuperMicro manages to fit 24 of such hard drive slots just 2U chassis.  I think it is just a silly trick to make people buy external storage if they need more drives, which is typically the product with higher premium.

Though it is a good question if we will need so many drives in the future.  Most people getting many drives these days do it for performance reasons and SSD may eliminate this need… and even 8 SSDs should be offering enough space and performance for many needs in 1-2 years timeframe.

5 thoughts on “On Dell R900

  1. Mark

    I work almost exclusively with Dell hardware at my company’s datacenter and I too have come to appreciate SuperMicro’s designs for storage density. Although unfortunately for SuperMicro, you can’t beat Dell’s prices!

  2. Jones

    I think dell expects you to be running a SAN of some description for storage expansion with systems of this calibur.

  3. admin Post author


    Right – there are external array and SAN offerings… but there is a lot of “real estate” in this 4U case they could have an option to have much more directly attached drives.

  4. Margaret

    Have you considered that stuffing the box with more drives could push it over the edge in terms of power and cooling? The processors and memory generate a lot of heat and so need enough airflow to keep them cool.

  5. admin Post author


    Sure. However as I highlight there are chassis which take much more hard drives so there must be ways to provide adequate cooling.

    Also 2U PowerEdge 2950 takes 8 hard drives, same as 4U R900 – which does not make much sense to me.

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