Unlike Dell, Cisco, HPE and Lenovo focused their rollouts on new systems powered with AMD’s new processors.

Jeffrey Schwartz

March 22, 2021

4 Min Read
Dell Reveals First Intel Xeon Ice Lake, AMD Gen 3 EPYC Servers
Dell

As AMD launched its 3rd Gen EPYC processors last week, Dell Technologies indicated the status of Intel’s 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable CPUs, code-named Ice Lake.

Dell introduced 17 servers for data centers, some powered by AMD’s 3rd Gen EPYC, and others with Intel’s Ice Lake. At the same time, Dell’s three key rivals, Cisco, HPE and Lenovo, also launched servers and hyperconverged infrastructure.

Unlike Dell, Cisco, HPE and Lenovo focused their rollouts on new systems powered with AMD’s new processors. Dell introduced one of its servers powered by the new AMD Gen 3 EPYC (codenamed Milan) on March 15. But two days later, Dell launched the rest of its AMD servers, plus the first with Intel’s Ice Lake.

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Dell’s Ravi Pendekanti

“That shows the breadth of the portfolio, both based on Intel and AMD processors,” said Ravi Pendekanti, Dell’s senior VP of server solutions product management, during a press and analyst briefing. “It is deep because we are trying to cover all the major workloads that our customers look to us for.”

It is noteworthy that Dell was the only major server vendor that chose to reveal its Ice Lake plans.

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Pund-IT’s Charles King

“Dell deftly sidestepped the NDA blanket Intel has thrown over its next-gen Ice Lake Xeon processors by simply not naming the processors inhabiting its new Xeon-based products,” said Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT. “But their availability in May coincides with Intel’s reported release for Ice Lake.”

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Pendekanti acknowledged that the Intel servers will be based on Ice Lake; however, he abruptly declined to elaborate. King said Dell’s choice to launch everything at once could benefit its partners.

“Providing details spanning its entire new portfolio is valuable for both Dell’s customers and its channel partners, since providing insights to the new solutions’ features and capabilities in advance of their availability is likely to impact more than a few project plans and purchasing decisions,” he said.

Intel Ramps Production Volume

Intel announced in January that it started production of the Ice Lake processors. The company hasn’t provided specific ship dates, but said it plans to ramp volume by the end of this quarter. Observers will be looking for any information Intel’s new CEO Pat Gelsinger might give next week. Gelsinger is scheduled to provide an update on Intel’s future engineering plans on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the newest data center CPUs from both AMD and Intel will offer improved artificial intelligence, performance, security and efficiency. While most servers are still based on Intel Xeon processors, AMD has recently begun gaining share with EPYC. Designed with AMD’s new “Zen3” core, the company said it performs 19% more instructions per cycle than its predecessor.

During AMD’s launch event last week, officials provided various benchmarks against Intel Xeon processors that are now shipping. But since Intel has not yet begun shipping Ice Lake, AMD was able to claim a wider lead in performance. While Intel’s Ice Lake rollout will narrow, or close the gap, to what extent remains to be seen.

128 Cores for AI and Deep Learning

The largest system Dell announced with AMD’s new EPYC processor is the PowerEdge XE8545. The 2-socket, 4U system has two of the AMD EPYC 3rd Gen processors, available with up to 128 cores. It also includes NVIDIA A100 GPUs and supports virtualization with NVIDIA’s vGPU and Multi-Instance GPU (MIG) capability.

At AMD’s launch event, Pendekanti said the PowerEdge XE8545 can perform accurate ResNet-50 image classification training in less than half the time of its predecessor.

“The PowerEdge XE8545 is AI infrastructure without compromise, delivering optimized CPU and GPU performance, accelerated IO throughput and simplified management,” he said.

Among other servers equipped with the AMD 3rd Gen EPYC announced by Dell include PowerEdge R6515, C6525, R7525, R6525, R751. Available immediately, Dell said the PowerEdge R6515, a 1U rack server, accelerates data processing capabilities by up to 60%. The PowerEdge R6525 is a dual-socket, 1U rack server with 64 cores. The 2U C6525 is designed for high-performance workloads and the R7515 is a 2U, singe-socket system designed for scale-out environments.

Dell’s first servers based on Intel’s Ice Lake include various rack servers such as C6520, MX750c, R750, R750xa and R650. Officials talked up the PowerEdge R750Xa, a 2U-based, dual-socket system with GPUs. Dell designed the 750XA for AI and workloads that require extreme acceleration. Also look for the XR11 and XR12, edge and 5G telecom servers in the second quarter.

“The new Dell portfolio hits virtually all the high points that enterprise x86 solutions aim for,” King said. “Those range from supporting general purpose applications to optimizing performance for specific use cases, including edge-based workloads and computationally-intensive HPC, AI and analytics.”

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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