Dell ships Viking server for high-spec customers

The Viking server is designed for efficiency and is integral to Dell's assault on companies keen to maximise their datacentres
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Dell has started shipping Viking, a high-density server that holds eight to 12 micro-servers, to major customers.

The Viking, which was available to customers on Monday, is sold by Dell's Data Centre Solutions (DCS) division. The server is targeted at a small clutch of around 30 companies worldwide, who are "running large, monolithic, server environments to deliver a particular usage model from one application", Data Centre Solutions specialist Tony Stewart told ZDNet UK on Tuesday.

It is designed to maximise density within datacentres that comprise of homogenous hardware environments, such as those operated by companies involved in web search and hosting. Generally, DCS offers hardware and services to companies in compute-intensive industries, such as oil and gas, financial markets and high-performance computing.

The server comprises of a three-rack unit (3U) chassis, making it 5.25 inches in height. Typically, standard servers use one-rack unit (1U) each, so the Viking offers a space premium by packing its Xeon server cores on individual sleds, which sit alongside each other vertically within the chassis.

Because of this, a fully-loaded 12-core Viking spends 50-percent less power on cooling and uses 80-percent fewer fans per server, when compared to 12 1U chassis that each contain one HP Proliant DL server, according to an internal Dell comparison.

The architecture of the Viking makes the servers and chassis controls all accessible from the front of the server, leaving just the power for the back. This allows customers to squeeze extra efficiency out of their datacentres by running the hot aisle of their datacentre, which the back of the Viking will face on to, at a higher temperature. Each sled is swappable while the power is on, allowing individual sleds to be changed in case of hardware failure. The server also comes with a range of tools to allow operators to look at the power consumption of each server sled, so as to maximise power usage effectiveness.

"They're not looking for feature-rich management tools, but they are looking for management features so they can extract the power [usage amount] at server level," Stewart said.

Intel and Dell collaborated on some of the technology behind Viking, with both companies making investments "to look at the optimal configuration around power and cooling", Stewart said. In a full-load scenario, each sled in a 12-sled arrangement will consume a maximum of 95W, and this figure factors in the power used for the overall Viking chassis as well.

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