Dell “Copper” ARM server for web services

Back in November I asked where the cheap ARM servers were, and then I started experimenting with my own £60 ARM server, but now Dell have come out with their own ARM server for web providers – nicknamed “Copper”.

It’s not going to be that cheap, being based on the Dell C-Class Cloud computers with:

  • 1.6GHz, quadcore Marvell Armada XP system on a chip
  • 1 DIMM slot DDR3 UDIMM VLP, 1333MHz up to 8GB per node
  • 4 discrete server nodes per sled
  • 12 sleds per 3U chassis
  • So that all sounds pretty nice – 4 cores per node, 4 nodes per sled, 12 sleds in a 3U Chassis, so that’s 192 cores in a 3U slot.

    With this kind of specification, the nodes seem perfect for things like load balanced web servers, Cloud Foundry style “Application Execution Nodes”, and other light to moderate disk I/O tasks.

    The density of cores is definitely there, as is the memory – 8GB per node is around the right balance, so the real questions remaining seem to be currently unanswered:

  • What’s the power usage per node?
  • What’s the performance per Watt (PPW?) when compared to an Intel Xeon?
  • What’s the price?
  • If anyone from Dell wants to give me those answers, I’d be fascinated to know…

    Update – Thanks to Mark responding in the comments below, that’s 15 Watts per node, which gives you 750W per 3U sled, a very impressive figure.

    3 thoughts on “Dell “Copper” ARM server for web services

    1. Mark Cathcart

      Ewan, about 15 watts per server at max power consumption, and thereby about 750 watts
      per 48 node chassis.

      However, we aren’t providing
      specific performance comparisons vs. Xeon or Opteron; part of our reason for
      delivering the systems is for customers to run their own benchmarks and confirm
      the benefits.
      For pricing, its a PowerEdge C server, so price is dependent on volume etc. I couldnt find a standard price in any meaningful way.

      1. Ewan Leith

        Thanks very much for the information Mark, 750 watts per 48 node chassis sounds very impressive.

        An IBM x3850 M2 with 4 x 3 GHz Xeon Quad Core CPUs consumes around 750W too, but in a 4U slot, so you’re looking at 16 high end Xeon cores vs 192 ARM cores.

        If the CPU performance is good enough (which I think it will be based on my slower ARM CPU experiments), it’ll be a fantastic option for customers.

        You’re right about the performance comparisons being difficult, I will need to convince someone at my current contract to build a Hadoop cluster of them to see how it goes 🙂

    2. Dmitry Paskal

      Really nice piece of technology! BTW, can you point me to some article about this blog setup? I’m working with nginx for some time, but I’ve never archieved your site results (sorry for siege test, but your site seems unaffected by it).

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