Quick overview of Dells 9th generations rack-mount server line up
It's been a couple of months now since Dell introduced the first machines in the new "9th generation" server line-up, the PowerEdge 1950, 2950, 2900 and the Blade 1955 all looked like quite nice machines, they can be fitted with the new DRAC/5 card and onboard PERC.
And they have recently been accompanied by slightly simpler (and more cost effective) SC1435 and the baby 860.
All machines use the new generation Intel processors (64-bit), FB-DIMM memory and SAS and/or SATA disk drives.
I'm not going to go on about products specs and other sales crap, you can find all that on the Dell website. Just my view on the machines and what they are suitable for. Everything from using Linux as the OS on the box. Solaris 10 is currently not confirmed as working, using 06/06 you still need a driver disk for the PERC card and ethernet is unsupported so you need a addon Intel PCI card to even make use of the server.
Dell PowerEdge 1950
Nice 1U pizza box machine. I would use this as an application or web server, if you equip it with the 4 2.5" disk backplane you could possibly have a very small database on it. Disk I/O is very likely to be a bottle neck though. Hooking it up to a SAN is another option. Good layout of the internal components and the back connectors are easy to access. The PCIe slots are a bit limited in lenght, but then again there aren't many long cards available any more (anyone remember the old full lenght PCI raid cards?). Quite redundant with dual "most things".
To summarize, a perfect box for a Apache HTTPd or Java app server.
Starting price in a usable spec: $3437
Dell PowerEdge 2950
Pretty much the same machine as the 1950 but with more I/O. Six 3.5" drives or eight 2.5" drives. Decent small office file server, takes 1.8Tb internally (3Tb if you go SATA), room for extra Ethernet cards if you want to run iSCSI. Would also be a good "all in all" intranet server, put Postgres, PHP, Postifx and few other things on it. Or install a Zimbra and use it as a e-mail server.
Slap 8 2.5" drives in it and it is a nice decent DB server. If you team up a group of these and hook them up to a SAN they make great RAC-nodes. As the 1950 it is fairly redundant and can be trusted to work by itself for non-critical things.
Starting price in a usable spec: $3757
Dell PowerEdge 2900
Not really a rack-mount box but it does come with a rackmount kit. Only included here as it is the only "one box solution" for larger installations such as a Oracle EE, mid-sized file server or even a large e-mail server. Takes up to 10 internal drives (8 + 2 cage), thats 3Tb with current SAS drives. Lots of PCIe I/O, six slots for HBAs and NICs. If you like virtualization it would make a great VMWare box, it takes an impressive 48Gb RAM (you don't want to see the price tag for this though).
5U in a rack though, I hope you're not paying per U if you colocate it.
Starting price in a usable spec: $4370
Dell PowerEdge 860
This one I don't really understand. First of all, who came up with the name 860, it is clearly a 950. Second of all I don't really get where this box is meant to be used, the SC1435 is a better choice in 90% of all cases. The only advantage over the SC1435 is the fact that it has the normal kick ass DRAC/5 card as an option. It takes Celeron, Pentium D and Xeon 3000 series processors, I really *really* recommend against using a Celeron proc in anything that goes in a rack.
Possible uses (if I have to) would be a DNS server, mail relay, basic web server or management server.
Starting price in a usable spec: $1391
Dell PowerEdge SC1435
This little guy is not officially out yet, should be available in the comming weeks. The tower equivalent SC1430 is currently available though. I must admit that this is probably one of my favorites in the line-up, not because it's a great flexible, highly redundant machine. But simply because it's cheap and gets the job done! No hot swap anything. This is probably the perfect app or web server for larger load balanced solutions. This is however an AMD Opteron Socket-F server, not a Intel as the other. Quite confusing to be honest. I would have hoped that Dell launched a completely new line for the opteron gear.
I would not consider this box unless I was installing at least 4 (or possibly even 6) nodes for a single deployment. If they fail, you'll have a longer down time period than most other boxes since you probably have to get it out of the rack to service it. But it's cheap and just get things done. I can imagine many high performance computing farms rubbing their hands when they see this box, it's very suitable for a Linux beowulf cluster.
You can read my review of the older SC1425.
Starting price in a usable spec: $2900 (estimated)
Dell PowerEdge 1955
The Blade server in the new family. Data processing, web servers, app servers and possibly other uses if you add the FC daughter card. Quite decent machines and as a 1855 admin I'm very pleased so far.
One thing to remember though, the 1955/1855 chassis backplane is not redunant, deploy in groups of two chassis and at least 8 servers to make them cost effective. Price excluding chassis, which usually comes in at about $3000 with redundant PSU's, DRAC, IP-KVM and a pair of switch modules.
Starting price in usable spec: $2516
Regarding the price, the starting list price on Dells website is unusable. One disk drive included, way to little RAM, no DRAC card etc. All machines have been speced out to a suitable minimal config for actuall deployment use with redundant PSU's, a PERC card, at least 2Gb RAM etc and Bronze NBD support. The size and usage of the box has also been considered, as an example the 2900 was fitted with six drives since it's main purpose is disk and I/O expandability.
For Solaris 10 support see this post.