Dell unveils new and rebranded servers

Dell Computer Corp. last month announced it will begin phasing out its PowerEdge 2400 and PowerEdge 2450 servers so it can bring in a new generation of machines to address workgroup and corporate data-centre environments.

The PowerEdge 2500 tower server for departments and workgroups will take the place of the PowerEdge 2400, while the PowerEdge 2450 will be succeeded by the new PowerEdge 2550 rack server. The new servers are now available, at a price of US$2,399 each.

The new PowerEdge 2550 and PowerEdge 2500 servers support dual Intel Corp. Pentium III processors with entry-level processors of 700MHz and high-end processors of up to 1GHz. They both feature ServerWorks Corp.’s HE-SL chipset that supports three PCI buses (two 64-bit buses and one 32-bit bus), 4GB of RAM and embedded dual-channel RAID with battery back-up.

The PowerEdge 2550 has an embedded Gigabit Ethernet controller, can be connected to as many as seven external devices and offers as many as five hot-plug, one-inch (2.54-centimetre) SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) hard drives for up to 180GB of storage. In addition, it offers an optional hot-plug redundant power supply, support for external Fibre Channel and SCSI storage expansion, high-availability clustering and a chassis that Dell calls “friendly” to maintenance.

Dell may be trying to put pressure on Compaq Computer Corp. with the new PowerEdge models, said Stacey Quandt, an associate analyst for Giga Information Group Inc. Although Compaq has a strategy for rack-optimized servers, its low-end products available now do not provide features offered by Dell such as embedded Gigabit Ethernet on the motherboard, a faster PCI bus, improved heat dissipation and airflow control, she said.

The PowerEdge 2500 offers eight hot-plug, one-inch SCSI hard drives for up to 288GB of storage, a redundant hot-plug cooling fan, an optional hot-plug redundant power supply and a new smaller chassis. Both the PowerEdge 2500 and 2550 can be factory-installed with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 Server or Advanced Server operating systems, Novell Inc.’s NetWare 5.1 and Red Hat Inc.’s Linux 7.

There is nothing earth-shattering about the new PowerEdge 2500, said Joyce Becknell, director of computer platforms and architectures at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston. Still, Dell has done the right things in refreshing the technology for the next generation, such as with the processor and the SCSI technology, she said.

“This is a great server for a lot of businesses,” Becknell said. “It’s a good, solid product.”

The PowerEdge 2500 will replace the PowerEdge 2400, which came out in October 1999 and has a base price of US$2,199 with a 700MHz Pentium III processor. The PowerEdge 2550, meanwhile, takes the place of 2450, which hit the market in January of 2000 and has a base price of US$2,521. Dell is expected to phase out the PowerEdge 2400 and 2450 during the next two months.

In addition to the new servers, Dell unveiled its simplified computing (SC) line of PowerEdge servers, the PowerEdge 300SC and 1400SC, which replace Dell’s PowerEdge 300 and 1400 servers, said Gene Austin, Dell’s vice-president of worldwide marketing. The SC models start at US$899 and are aimed at the small business and corporate workgroup market.

The PowerEdge 300SC and 1400SC are rebranded versions of the PowerEdge 300 and 1400, Austin said. Pricing for the PowerEdge 300SC begins at US$899 and the PowerEdge 1400SC starts at US$1,199. Dell has plans to release new machines for the SC line later this year.

Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, can be reached at