Dell aims to cut desktop reliance with workstation for datacentres

Dell adds new a rack workstation and a mini-tower to the Precision workstation lineup

Dell intends to move workstations into the datacentre and then serve up intense multimedia and engineering applications to remote users over the cloud or in virtualized environments via thin clients.

To that end, the PC maker has introduced the Precision R7610 workstation, which is designed like a 2U rack server but with the power of a typical workstation using Intel's latest Xeon processors and support for up to four graphics cards. The workstation will host virtual machines in data centers so that applications can be run on thin clients, PCs or mobile devices in remote locations.

Workstations typically have been relegated to the desk, using the combined processing power of CPUs and GPUs to make movies or to run CAD/CAM applications. The R7610 workstation can host up to four GPUs to centralize processing for data-intensive applications such as engineering and multimedia, which can then be rendered to mobile devices, PCs, or thin clients like Dell's Wyse P25.

The R7610 supports graphics processors from Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices, which are able to serve virtual desktops with the help of improved memory management and interfacing with hypervisors.

There are some situations where having towers at every desk doesn't make sense, said Patrick Kannar, director of product marketing for Precision workstations at Dell.

One of Dell's customers in Japan has deployed hundreds of rack workstations in datacentres across several locations. The company wanted to centralize applications, and virtual desktops have helped save space and cut deployment costs, Kannar said.

Dell's R7610 is similar to Nvidia's Grid Visual Computing Appliance (VCA), which reduces the need for workstations at desks via server-side processing of graphics via GPUs.

The company already offered PowerEdge servers that can serve up virtual desktops via graphics processors. But the new workstation is capable of hosting more graphics processors than a typical server, which makes it different, Kannar said.

Depending on the processing power needed, the workstation could also be used in offices or on factory floors, Kannar said.

The two-socket workstation uses Intel's Xeon E5 processors code-named Romley, which have up to eight CPU cores. The R7610 provides up to 256GB of RAM. The workstation will have Nvidia's Quadro or AMD's FirePro graphics processors.

The R7610 will be available May 21 starting at US$2,179.

Dell also announced the Dell Precision T1700 mini-tower desktop, which will start shipping on June 4 with Intel's upcoming fourth-generation Core processors and also Xeon E3 processors based on the Haswell microarchitecture. Intel is expected to officially announce new Core processors at the Computex trade show in Taipei, June 4 to 8.

The mini-tower has multiple PCI-Express 3.0 slot for graphics cards. Pricing was not immediately announced.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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