Dell has announced a new High Performance Computing (HPC) server, PowerEdge C6320, which it says nearly doubles the compute capacity of its predecessor.

The C6320 offers four nodes in a 2U chassis built around Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors. Its primary purpose is to serve as a ‘building block’ for hyper-converged environments that can combine thousands of nodes.

But Dell says the new server would also fit any organization that wants to squeeze considerably more compute into a typical rack, and could have uses in analytics too.

The Comet supercomputer
The Comet supercomputer built with PowerEdge C6320 – San Diego Supercomputing Center

HPC for the masses

The PowerEdge C-series was engineered to be powerful but simple, high on density but lacking some of the value-added features that are unnecessary in a hyperscale environment.

The new server follows this convention, but adds the latest version of integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) – a tool developed for Dell’s mainstream server range that automates common deployment, monitoring and maintenance operations.

iDRAC is essentially an invisible drive that keeps a copy of various device drivers and BIOS versions, enabling the machines to be rebuilt at the touch of a button without having to use external media.

On the hardware side, PowerEdge C6320 offers up to 18 cores per socket or 144 cores per chassis, up to 512GB of DDR4 memory and up to 72TB of local storage.

Dell says this combination can achieve 999 gigaflops on a single server as measured by the LinPack benchmark, as opposed to 498 gigaflops on the previous generation PowerEdge C6220.

27 racks of PowerEdge C6320 are already used as part of Comet - a new petascale research supercomputer deployed by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). That’s 1,944 nodes or 46,656 cores, delivering a five-fold increase in performance over SDSC’s previous system.

“We like to say that Comet provides ‘HPC for the 99 percent’ – essentially it’s about providing high-performance computing to a much larger research community and serving as a gateway to discovery,” said SDSC director Michael Norman, principal investigator for the Comet project.

Dell will also release C6320 as an appliance fine-tuned for VMWare’s EVO: RAIL and capable of running a much larger number of virtual machines than a traditional server.

Peter Barnes, director for Enterprise Solutions at Dell UK, told DatacenterDynamics that the company was doing exceptionally well on the British Isles, and was now aiming to become the top server vendor in the country.