The New Dell Server on the vSAN Block: Dell vSAN Ready Node T350
Thu, 31 Mar 2022 16:32:37 -0000|
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2021 has been a great year for hyperconverged (HCI) systems. VMware has continued its lead in the HCI marketplace. According to IDC VMware holds an excellent position to define the future of HCI and its relevance in new market opportunities such as 5G, retail, and Edge.
In a market where VMware, Nutanix, Huawei, Cisco, and HPE hold the top positions, HCI systems running VMware accounted for 41.5% of market share, which is more than the other four vendors combined. The revenue that is associated with VMware systems grew more than 17% year after year. More than 30,000 customers have now adopted vSAN. Figure 1 shows market share for HCI systems for Q3, 2021.
Figure 1: IDC Q3 2021 Worldwide Converged Tracker
To add to the VMware HCI momentum, Dell has released a new vSAN Ready Node that is based on Dell’s PowerEdge T350 tower server.
These affordable, 4.5U (fits under a desk counter), entry-level single socket servers are ideal for small and medium size businesses, remote offices, and Edge locations. Based on the Intel Xeon E-2300 processor, the T350 delivers 28%** faster processing and two times the memory capacity of the previous generation (T340).
Figure 2: Dell vSAN Ready Node T350
The Dell vSAN Ready Node T350 completes the Dell vSAN Ready Node portfolio. It is the 13th node type including the Identity Module. This unique feature allows for a smooth factory configuration experience, improved tracking capabilities for quality processes, seamless support through chassis identification, and enhanced system automation capabilities.
Figure 3: Dell EMC vSAN Ready Node portfolio
The T350 model presents the following key features that make it a great candidate for ROBO, retail, and Edge deployment situations:
- Enhanced thermal efficiency
- System layout architected for optimum thermal design
- Comprehensive thermal management: System fan speed autoregulation with temperature monitoring for processors, DIMMs, chipset, and hard drives
- Both open and closed loop thermal fan speed control
- Cooling redundancy
- Delivers sound quality and smooth transient response in addition to sound power levels and sound pressure levels appropriate for its deployment environments
- Designed to adhere to category 1 and 2 acoustics standards(table-top office environments and floor standing units in office environments)
- Improved visibility and control for system management based in:
- Integrated telemetry streaming
- RESTful API with Redfish
- Designed with a cyber-resilient architecture, integrating security into the system’s life cycle
- Operate your workloads on a secured platform that is anchored by cryptographically trusted booting and silicon root of trust
- Maintain server firmware safety with digitally signed firmware packages
- Prevent unauthorized configuration or firmware change with system lockdown
- Small chassis footprint, 37% lower than its predecessor, optimal for space constrained sites
T350 model emphasizes the importance of providing a wide portfolio of form factors to host customers’ vSAN based workloads. In the VMware Compatibility Guide, vSAN configurations for the T350 include All-Flash and Hybrid (SAS cache and HDDs for capacity).
Using Open Manage Integration with VMware vCenter (OMIVV) and VMware’s life cycle management (vLCM) makes deploying, operating, and life cycle managing your vSAN workloads even easier.
To learn more about Dell vSAN Ready Nodes, see the Dell Technologies Info Hub.
Iñigo Olcoz, Senior Principal Engineer, Dell CI & HCI Technical Marketing
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AMD Benefits for Dell vSAN Ready Nodes
Fri, 11 Feb 2022 16:40:29 -0000|
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In a previous blog I explained how the availability of a rich offering of platforms to support vSAN Ready Nodes provides additional value to customers.
Apart from the various form factors including tower, rack, modular, and ruggedized models, or the existence of 1 and 2U offers and compute options ranging from one to four sockets, Dell vSAN Ready Nodes also provides a choice of processor: Intel and AMD.
In this blog, I explore some of the key advantages of the AMD based processor, focusing on:
- Technical specifications
Dell has four AMD based servers certified as vSAN Ready Nodes: the Dell EMC PowerEdge R6515, R6525, R7515, and R7525.
These four models incorporate the latest generations of AMD EPYC Rome (Series 7002, AMD EPYC 2nd Gen) and Milan (Series 7003, AMD EPYC 3rd Gen) processors in VMware vSAN Ready Nodes All-Flash and Hybrid configurations, as described in the following figure:
The AMD portfolio consists of two one-socket servers (Dell PowerEdge R6515 and R7515) and two two-socket servers (Dell PowerEdge R6525 and R7525).
The Dell PowerEdge Rxxx5 servers include the new AMD EPYC 7003 (Milan) Series Processors, that have up to 64 cores per processor, based on “Zen 3” architecture. They also introduce new per-core cache memory levels (32 MB L3 cache) while continuing to offer the class-leading PCIe® 4 connectivity that defined the EPYC 7002 (Rome) Series CPUs memory bandwidth.
These servers present a vast I/O bandwidth profile with 128 PCIe™ 4.0 Lanes in a Single Socket, up to 160 PCIe 4.0 Lanes in a Dual Socket and 64 GB/s bi-dir bandwidth per link, 512 GB/s per socket.
Single socket configurations are beneficial in terms of cost and energy footprint because they can compete in performance with dual socket configurations, with significant cost and power savings (280W per AMD EPYC 7763 vs 350W in 2x Intel Xeon Platinum 9242, and 64 cores in the AMD EPYC 7763 vs 48 cores in the Intel Xeon Platinum 9242).
Both AMD Rome and Milan processors feature configurable Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA), settings that can go from one NUMA node per socket (NPS1) to four NUMA nodes per socket (NPS4). NPS1 configurations create a larger memory domain, with potentially higher latency and throughput, while NPS4 configurations produce smaller memory domains that help to reduce the ESXi scheduler memory latency.
Optimal NPS configurations depend on the user’s vSphere workload. In general, workloads with large block sequential reads benefit from NPS1 configurations, which achieve almost double the throughput of NPS2 and NPS4 at half the latency. Small block random read type workloads show exceptional performance from NPS2 and NPS4 configurations.
NPS settings have much less impact in heavy write workloads. This probably occurs because all writes are consumed by the cache drive before destaging to the capacity drive.
AMD EPYC processors have demonstrated an excellent performance profile over the years. They have yielded impressive results not only in the VMware space, but in almost any workload test.
For example, the AMD site shares some general numbers with VMware, VDI, database, high performance computing, or pure integer calculation workloads. For more details, see AMD EPYC™ Tech Docs and White Papers.
VMark is a leading performance benchmark in the VMware space. Dell vSAN Ready Nodes (particularly those based in AMD) demonstrated impressive results for the most recent VMark 3.x tests.
Dell vSAN Ready Nodes make up three out of four of the best global scores, measured by the number of VMmark tiles that ready nodes can run.
The remaining ready node of these four used three times more hosts and sockets than the Dell AMD based nodes. The price implications are demonstrated in the following figure.
With 64 tiles and a score of 63.01, the Dell R6525 vSAN Ready Node shines as a solid performance leader in terms of VMware workloads.
AMD based ready nodes also lead the charts for single-socket systems, as shown in the following image:
The top scoring systems were the Dell R7515 and Dell C6525 vSAN Ready Nodes, with 16 tiles and scores of 15.18 and 13.74, respectively.
AMD EPYC processors create a new standard for secure memory encryption (SME) by making it possible to encrypt the contents of the main memory just by changing a setting in the system BIOS. In encrypted memory systems, cold-boot attacks have a low chance of divulging memory contents because all the data is encrypted. High performance encryption engines integrated into the memory channels help improve performance
Second generation EPYC processors have even more increased security, with performance-optimized countermeasures against known attacks.
Specific to virtualized environments, the second generation of AMD EPYC processors have introduced Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV). This technology encrypts each virtual machine with a unique key that in known only to the processor, with up to 509 contexts. This improves protection and data confidentiality in virtualized environments. This includes protection for instances of a malicious virtual machine that finds a way into your virtual machines’ memory or a compromised hypervisor that looks inside a guest virtual machine.
This means AMD EPYC processors are less vulnerable to attacks such as Meltdown, Spectre v3a, LazyFPU, and MDS.
With Secure Boot, AMD creates a hardware root of trust, enabling only trusted code to be loaded and run through BIOS load, helping prevent the injection of malicious code prior to the loading of the operating system. This feature is managed by a dedicated security processor (AMD Secure Processor) that lives alongside the CPU cores.
AMD based Dell vSAN Ready Nodes provide tangible benefits for vSAN deployments, have significant performance and security advantages, and are cost-friendly.
You can read more about Dell vSAN Ready Nodes at the Dell Technologies Info Hub Solutions for vSAN Ready Nodes.
Author: Inigo Olcoz
Identity Modules role in Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes
Fri, 19 Nov 2021 18:03:54 -0000|
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When we think about vSAN Ready Nodes from a Dell Technologies perspective, we provide a wide portfolio of platforms to choose from, both in terms of form factors and technical specifications. We can also offer ease of operations and life cycle management, which are made possible by the graceful integration of Dell EMC Open Manage Integration for VMware vCenter (OMIVV) with VMware’s vSphere lifecycle management (vLCM).
But…is there anything else?
The answer is yes! Behind the scenes is a simple technology that enables the Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes platform to reach advanced levels of automation.
Let me introduce the Dell EMC Identity Module.
Our first contact with this interesting subject comes when we first connect to the underlying PowerEdge iDRAC interface. As shown in the following image, the iDRAC has spotted something.
Is there anything different in this Dell EMC R740XD vSAN Ready Node than what we could observe if instead we were seeing a standard PowerEdge R740XD? Indeed. That brief description of the R740XD vSAN Ready Node makes the difference. We’ll get to that very soon.
As you may know, vCenter is the main management console for a VMware platform such as vSAN Ready Nodes. From vCenter, we can see a very similar description of our Ready Node:
What if we were just seeing a PowerEdge server, such as a PowerEdge MX740C?
No mention of Ready Node here, just a vanilla description of the server model. So, what’s the deal about that unique chassis identification provided by the Identity Module?
That particular text string enables any programmatic interface to locate and direct an operation to that specific set of infrastructure assets. A select type primitive from an automation platform may be able to pinpoint a Dell EMC vSAN Ready Node from other servers because it has an Identity Module. This means that if we have a 100-node server farm, in which 16 are, for example, Dell EMC R740XD vSAN Ready Nodes, and the rest are other server types without an Identity Module, we can easily direct any operation coming from an automation framework such as vRealize Orchestrator, Ansible, or Puppet to our Ready Nodes, and it will respond positively to any query that is looking for a vSAN Ready Node text string.
The Identity Module, as a unique chassis identification method, allows any programmatic operation to distinguish the ready node farm from the rest of the servers in the datacenter—a simple feature that enables such powerful automation. On top of this, from a support perspective, the Identity Module enables Dell teams to more rapidly triage and diagnose any system anomaly. This feature helps the more than 1.800 VMware certified Dell support engineers solve above 90% of the cases in-house, avoiding the need to route level 3 tickets to VMware.
Consider it another technology tidbit that helps differentiate Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes from other similar offerings.
To read more about Identity Modules driven automation, check out this blog (Tony’ blog on IDMod automation, when available).
For more technical information on Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes, check here.
Inigo Olcoz, Senior Principal Engineering Technologist at Dell Technologies