Data Centers

Review: Dell PowerEdge R510 server

The Dell PowerEdge R510 server is aimed squarely at space-constrained data centers and small and medium-size organizations. Scott Lowe explains why he thinks it's a welcome addition to Dell's server lineup.

In something that might be right out of a Transformers movie, Dell's PowerEdge R510 server is a versatile system that can take on many roles, from acting as a typical compute node or SAN-attached VMware host to being configured as a 24.6 TB-housing data storage behemoth... or both. With up to 12 cores of processing power and support for up to 12 internal disks, the Dell PowerEdge R510 is well-suited to operating in a number of roles, making it a good choice for many businesses.

Specifications

  • Processor: Up to two Intel Xeon 5500 and 5600 processors, up to six cores per socket, up to 12 sockets per server.
  • RAM: Up to 64 GB, 128 GB, or 192 GB DDR3 RAM, depending on which Dell resource you use. (See "RAM options are inconsistent" in the What's wrong section below for more information.)
  • RAID: Wide variety of RAID controller options to support internal and external storage.
  • Drive bays: Chassis options include 4, 8, or 12 drive bays.
  • Drive options: Up to 12 disks at 2 TB each. Supports 2.5" and 3.5" SATA and DAS disks and includes a solid state disk option. The 12 disk chassis also has space for two more internal drives.
  • Network: 2 x 1 Gb Ethernet ports on board (Broadcom 5716).
  • Power: Redundant power supply available.
  • Additional information: Product Web site
  • Photos of the Dell PowerEdge R510

The target market

The Dell PowerEdge R510 server is aimed squarely at space-constrained data centers or small and medium-size organizations. I see these primary use cases:

  • Common platform: Organizations that want significant server use flexibility and also want a common platform to administrative ease. The Dell PowerEdge R510's versatility makes it a natural fit for many applications.
  • Smaller is better: Organizations that need to pack more servers into a data center and that don't want to move to blades to gain density. The Dell PowerEdge R510's 26" depth makes it possible to support this need.
  • Mega storage needed: Small and medium organizations that need a server with massive internal storage and that may not want to invest in a SAN.

What problem does it solve

Many organizations have a desire to standardize on a single server platform in order to make it easier to support the server environment and to keep spare parts on hand in the event of a failure; however, those organizations often have a wide variety of computing needs, each requiring different computing resources. A VMware host, for example, will need RAM and processing power and will generally be connected to a SAN. Exchange, on the other hand, needs RAM, processing power, and raw disk space. SQL Server has similar needs. With its flexible chassis options, dual quad-core processing capability, and support for triple digit GBs of RAM, the 2U Dell PowerEdge R510 can meet the needs for all but the most processor intensive applications. IT can deploy a wide array of services on this single computing platform without sacrificing in any area of the computing spectrum.

The Dell PowerEdge R510 is also a short server, measuring only 26" deep. This makes it an ideal choice for smaller organizations that have small data centers and need to eke out as much space as possible without sacrifice.

Standout features

In addition to offering very flexible computing options and having a short depth, the Dell PowerEdge R510 offers an optional LCD display that allows administrators to quickly determine chassis status and choose boot options. The availability of the display is dependent on which chassis option is selected. For example, as you will see in the photo gallery, getting a display on the 12 chassis model would be tough.

What's wrong

Processor density This is not a specific product issue, but rather a gap in Dell's line. Ideally, I'd love to see the company release a version of the Dell PowerEdge R510 with support for up to four processors. Obviously, with a short depth, support for a lot of RAM and 12 disks crammed in the existing chassis, this four-socket dream might be difficult to produce in this form factor. RAM options are inconsistent Another negative element of this server is not necessarily a knock on the server itself — instead, it's directed at Dell's marketing folks. I got frustrated when I looked at various views of the Dell PowerEdge R510 on Dell's site. Depending on the page being viewed, the site lists the server's maximum RAM at three values:

In purchasing a server, the maximum RAM configuration available at present is 128 GB.

In the Dell PowerEdge R510's complete technical guide, there is mention that the chassis selected also impacts the availability of certain RAM configurations. The 4 drive chassis is listed as accepting 1, 2, and 4 GB memory modules; the 8 drive chassis is shown as accepting 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 GB modules.

My recommendation: Work with your sales rep to make sure your system has the memory options you expect and need.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

The Dell PowerEdge R510 server is a very welcome addition to Dell's server lineup and certainly fills an important niche by providing a single-platform solution to organizations that have a wide variety of needs.

User rating

Have used the Dell PowerEdge R510? If so, take the poll and let us know what you think of the server.

Want to keep up with Scott Lowe's posts on TechRepublic?

Next Page (Photos of the Dell PowerEdge R510 server) >>

About Scott Lowe

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

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