Dell on Wednesday announced the PowerEdge C8000 Series, a 4U shared infrastructure solution that provides hyperscale customers with new modular computational and storage capabilities. The PowerEdge C8000 Series is the industry's first to allow IT to mix and match compute, graphics coprocessors and storage sleds in one chassis.

The new product line includes: the PowerEdge C-Series C8220 compute sled, which offers a blend of compute power and density; the PowerEdge C8220X/GPU sled, which increases overall performance and compute/memory density per rack and allows the use of GPUs and other accelerators; and the PowerEdge C8000XD storage sled, which lets IT mix SATA, SAS and SSD storage resources.

Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager of Server Solutions at Dell, said the company is constantly working to address the market's evolving needs for solutions that deliver the ultimate in performance for their heaviest workloads, while saving on space, energy and total cost of ownership. The PowerEdge C8000 Series is Dell's latest answer.

Finding Hyperscale Fans

"The C8000 Series means to expand Dell's leadership position by using highly configurable, flexibly deployable solutions to widen the pool of hyperscale use cases and potential customers," Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told us.

"Along with typical high-performance computing and Web 2.0 and hosting applications, the C8000 Series can also support both parallel processing-intensive scientific visualization workloads and the high volume storage demands of Big Data applications."

King noted that the new systems also take advantage of Dell's work in fresh-air cooling. The C8000 Series solutions can be deployed without costly cooling upgrades and placed in nontraditional settings, including Dell's innovative Modula Data Center infrastructures.

That, King said, means that Dell's C8000 Series is likely to find fans among a variety of organizations, including new and even smaller companies investigating the hyperscale market. But the new Dell systems should also pique the interest of longtime high-performance computing and technical computing players.

Long-Term Bet

"Some will suggest that the small size of the hyperscale market -- at least compared to overall server opportunities -- automatically makes any effort small potatoes," King said. "That may be true in today's dollars but makes little sense looking ahead. Several of the use cases for the C8000 Series -- hosting, Web 2.0 and Big Data, in particular -- are growing rapidly, and interest in commercial HPC and scientific computing applications is also robust."

Given the development of these markets over the past half-decade and the likelihood of their continuing growth, King said Dell's 2007 entry into hyperscale solutions looks "prescient in the extreme." Although the company's resulting leadership position is hardly a surprise, he added, the new C8000 Series suggests that Dell is continuing to look forward and develop solutions its customers will need tomorrow but can also use today.

The PowerEdge C8000 Series begins shipping this month.