Review: Dell PowerEdge R730 Is Furious Fast

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Dell PowerEdge

Dell has retained many of the better attributes of prior models, including removable air ducts that not only maximize airflow over processors and memory, but also provide labeling to simplify memory installation. And the underside of the R730's cover is home to motherboard layout, a memory population diagram and other servicing vitals.

Amazingly, Dell's 2U chassis can house as much as 48 TB of SAS, SSD or SATA storage in eight 3.5-inch bays or 29 TB in eight 2.5-inch bays. What's more, there's room for seven PCIe 3.0 cards (four slots plus three optional risers), and space and power enough for two of those cards to be double-wide, 300-watt graphics cards (or four single-wides, drawing 150 watts each).

"Dell is committed to supporting graphics cards in its PowerEdge servers," Robinson said.

Support also extends to the new NVidia GRID K1 and K2 boards, which enable deployment of graphically-rich virtual environments.

Also for virtualized environments, Dell has made its failsafe hypervisor even more fault resistant for VMware by mirroring a subset of protected processor memory.

"By allowing a selective island of mirrored memory, the hypervisor works in a highly protected manner," he said.

The protected memory itself also is redundant.

"The single SD card was viewed as single point of failure," Robinson said.

This led to the development of a dual internal SD module which hosts two mirrored SD cards that the OS sees as a single-memory device.

"It doesn't know there are two and that they're redundant," Robinson said.

In the event of failure of one of the cards, the system sends an alert and the "system admin is prompted to replace the card and the system automatically re-mirrors the new card when it's inserted," Robinson said

The PowerEdge R730 offers redundant hot-swap power supplies in 495-, 750- and 1100-watt models; dual- and quad-port Gbit Ethernet options; out-of-band management; and, of course, Dell's iDRAC lifecycle controller and remote management system. Now at v8, the latest iDRAC permits version lets resellers drop-ship units to a customer site and remotely configure them from XML files or ISO images.

Dell has removed support for PCIe-based SSDs (via NVMe) from the R730, a feature that was present in the R720. Instead, that's reserved for the PowerEdge R730XD, a storage-optimized chassis that can combine 1.8-inch SSDs with a layer of 3.5-inch SAS or SATA drives.

"That will give the capability to deploy tiered storage within a server," Robinson said.

The versatile R730 also is available in 1U and tower form factors. The new server also now includes USB 3.0 and at-server diagnostics via NFC and an Android app. Base pricing starts at $2,249. 


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