The DCS team at Dell is known for being a bit of a skunk works for servers. With a charter to custom design optimized systems for our customers, we often find ourselves creating very unique products.

To that end, I’d like to share details about one of our more recent efforts in this space. Known officially as the XS11-VX8, but more affectionately by its code name of "Fortuna," it is arguably the most power-efficient and densest server in the marketplace. But note: these are not Dell PowerEdge servers available to all customers but are an advancement that Dell is bringing to customer's whose data center is their factory. They are hyper-scale customers in the search engine and Web hosting businesses.

VX11 form factor is similar to that of a 3.5” HDD carrier

Before jumping into the speeds and feeds, let’s talk a little about the specific problem our DCS Architecture team set out to solve. A number of large web-hosting providers approached the DCS team with a desire for unique, physical machines right-sized for a web-hosting workload. These unique physical machines must operate and perform like an enterprise-class server in terms of applications and management, but their workloads don’t warrant multi-socket or multi-core architectures.

To fill this space today, these customers often select general purpose 1U servers or low-end tower servers. However, compromises are made around the density, power, and/or manageability aspects associated with these alternatives. The Fortuna solution was designed from day one to solve this specific customer problem without compromise. Leveraging the Via Nano CPU, we can deliver an incredibly low-power solution of 20-29 Watts/server at full load (that isn’t a typo), and 15 Watts/server at OS idle. In addition, there are no compromises on enterprise features like 64-bit operating systems, 1-to-1 virtualization, and remote management via IPMI.

However, what usually catches most customers' attention is the form factor. With a size slightly larger than a 3.5-inch hard drive, Fortuna is a “hot-plug” server with its own dedicated memory, storage, BMC, and dual 1GbE NIC’s. The chassis exists to provide power, cooling, and a mechanism to mount in a rack. This provides unprecedented density – supporting six servers per rack unit (U) or 252 servers in a 42U rack.

Returning to our customers’ problem statement, the form factor serves a purpose.

VX11 chassis houses 12 servers in 2U

 

 

 

For customers living with rack capacities defined by the amps of service available, Fortuna provides a 700 percent increase in server density. This translates into a compelling total cost of ownership story. 

Here’s a short video where we talk more about this interesting new entry in our DCS server product family: