Nano, Nano – Serving you on 15-Watts

The Dell XS11-VX8 Server

The Dell XS11-VX8 Server

This is something I was asked about a few times at EMC World, power and form factors for servers. Here is the latest server from the Dell Data Center Solutions group (DCS). It’s only a little bigger than a disk drive, and you can get 252 servers in a 42U rack. While the form factor is interesting, very interesting, you need to think outside the “box” to get the true value.

It uses the Via Nano CPU, to deliver an incredibly low-power solution of 20-29 Watts/server when fully busy, and 15 Watts/server when the OS is idle. It includes enterprise features like 64-bit operating systems, 1-to-1 virtualization, and remote management via IPMI. What this does is turn the current server paradigm on it’s head. Instead of using more and more power hungry server chips that deliver more performance than you really need, which opens the gate for someone to tell you about server virtualization and consolidation to make the most of the power per watt, or cost of the server. The Dell XS11-VX8 just gives you “enough” performance, at a good price, and an effective price per watt. For those sensative to cross-charging, billing out IT services etc. it has another side effect of simplifying software licensing and allocation.

Over on the Direct2Dell blog community, Todd has written a post with some useful additional detail.

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About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.


I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

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