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Dell supercomputer effort spawns new line of servers

Dell has developed a line of servers based on designs the company is using in an upcoming 10-petaflop supercomputer called Stampede, which will be fully deployed at the University of Texas, Austin, starting next year.

The PowerEdge C8000 servers are built with standard Intel x86 CPUs and can be equipped with graphics processors or additional storage to improve performance on database tasks, high-performance computing operations and cloud workloads.

Users will be able to mix and match graphics processors, storage, memory and other elements inside the servers, said Armando Acosta, a product manager at Dell.

For its part, the Stampede supercomputer includes thousands of C8000 servers with a total of 272TB of memory and 14 petabytes of storage. Dell and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas worked together on Stampede. The design for the C8000 servers blossomed as the supercomputer came to fruition, Acosta said.

The supercomputer will use eight-core Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors and co-processors code-named Knights Corner, which Dell said will speed up scientific and math calculations.

As for the new servers, the basic C8220 chassis can have up to eight blade servers; each server can contain two CPUs with up to 16 processing cores, two internal hard drives and additional storage and networking options. For instance, the servers can be hooked up to the new C8000XD storage box for expandable hard drive or SSD options.

The C8220X, a more advanced model in the new lineup, has more RAM and storage and can be equipped with graphics processors. All of the servers are designed for use in highly parallel computing environments, Acosta said.

Pricing starts at $35,000 for the C8220, $42,000 for the C8220X and about $25,000 for the C8000XD storage box.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Read more about hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.

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