Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Sunday, October 21, 2018
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Dell, in AI-IoT Push, Teams with Microsoft, Intel; New 4-Socket Servers Support GPUs, FPGAs 

Dell PowerEdge R940

At its annual Dell Technologies World conference in Las Vegas this week, the company launched new PowerEdge four-socket servers featuring FPGA support along with AI and IoT partnerships with Intel and Microsoft.

Dell EMC’s new PowerEdge R940xa and PowerEdge R840 (both available May 22) offer up to 112 Intel Xeon Scalable processor cores and up to 6TB of memory and NVDIMM options. The R940xa is a 4U platform that combines up to four CPUs and four GPUs in a 1:1 ratio, lowering latency with direct-attached non-volatile memory express (NVMe) drives, while also offering support for up to eight FPGAs.

The PowerEdge R840 is a 2U platform with support for up to 4 Intel CPUs and up to 2 GPUs or up to 2 FPGAs, along with a 24 NVMe drive configuration.

“By using GPUs along with CPUs, Brytlyt is able to provide sub-second response on billions of rows of data that previously would have taken 20 minutes,”  said Richard Feyns, CEO, Brytlyt, maker of a GPU database and analytics platform. “We are thrilled to see Dell EMC PowerEdge R940xa bring together the very latest server technologies, such as a 1:1 CPU to GPU ratio, integrated security and intelligent automation with large internal storage. The R940xa is a powerhouse server for machine learning and other data-intensive workloads.”

Dell EMC also announced new PowerMax storage solutions that the company said is built with a machine learning engine that uses predictive analytics and pattern recognition techniques and can analyze and forecast 40 million data sets in real-time per array, according to Dell EMC, driving 6 billion decisions per day to automatically optimize performance of mixed data storage workloads.

The company announced other features built to manage the increased-scale workloads to be handled by the PowerEdge server portfolio. Both servers feature OpenManage Enterprise, which manages the IT infrastructure, as well as agent-free Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) for automated management to improve productivity.

Dell EMC also offers Ready Solutions, which integrates technologies from partner companies to help identify “tested and validated solutions so they can innovate more quickly, help reduce risk and help lower total cost of ownership.” The company said its Ready Solution for HPC is a hardware platform and software solution built on the PowerEdge R740 server that combines Xeon processors and customizable Intel FPGAs.

Dell EMC will also join the Intel AI Builders program, an ecosystem of enterprise-focused technology partners to develop solutions on Intel AI products. The two companies will help customers benchmark deep learning and HPC workloads at scale.

At least one industry watcher, Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy, said Dell has done a good job of catch-up in the AI server race.

"Dell EMC has made a lot of headway in the last 12 months when the company didn't talk at all about AI or ML," Moorhead told EnterpriseTech. "The new PowerEdge 940xa and PowerMax are good steps in the right direction for infrastructure, and the Intel alignment should help on the software side."

On the workstation front, the company announced Dell Precision Optimizer 5.0 that uses AI to automatically adjust applications running on Dell Precision workstations to “(learn) each application’s behavior in the background and uses that data to employ a trained machine learning model that will automatically adjust the system to optimized settings and deliver up to 394 percent improvement in application performance,” the company said in a prepared statement.  It also has automated systems configuration adjustments that the company said optimizes CPU, memory, storage, graphics and operating system settings. “This allows workers to quickly improve workstation performance when switching between applications and projects, like moving from detailed CAD design to high fidelity visualization of the design.”

Also at Dell Technologies World, Dell and Microsoft said today they will collaborate on a joint solution for IoT “end-to-end” deployments, from the edge to the cloud. The solution combines:

  • Azure IoT Edge, which Miscrosoft said extends cloud intelligence to edge devices enabling them to act locally and leverage the cloud for global coordination and machine learning at scale
  • VMware Pulse IoT Center, providing enterprise-grade management and monitoring of diverse edge devices, including gateways and connected IoT devices, bios and operating systems.
  • Dell Edge Gateways, which are IoT devices that connect wired and wireless devices and systems to aggregate and analyze inputs and send relevant data to the cloud.

“The Internet of Things is driving an onslaught of data and compute at the edge, requiring organizations to embrace an end-to-end IT infrastructure strategy that can effectively, efficiently and quickly mine all that data into business intelligence gold,” said Jeff Clarke, vice chairman, products & operations, Dell. “This is where the power of AI and machine learning becomes real – when organizations can deliver better products, services, solutions and experiences based on data-driven decisions.  And that’s the business we’re in – better business outcomes made possible by end-to-end solutions fueled by data – from the PC workstation, to the data center and applications running in the cloud.”

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