VXRAIL ON POWEREDGE 15G – AN INSIDE VIEW


It’s an exciting time when a new hardware platform is introduced for our hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) products especially when it’s for the VxRail HCI platform. Our GEOS Engineering Technologist team is fortunate enough to work directly with our development engineering and product management teams here at Dell Technologies. As a result, we have an opportunity to get hands on lab access to the newest VxRail hardware platforms.


To get right into it here are the VxRail E660F and P670F nodes based on the Dell EMC PowerEdge 15G server platform in our lab we will be going into a bit more detail on:


Figure 1 VxRail E660F nodes



Figure 2 VxRail P670F nodes


In this post we will take a closer look at three new PowerEdge 15G hardware features and how it benefits VxRail HCI.

  1. Energy Efficient Power Supplies with Optimized Chassis Placement

  2. Hot Pluggable Boot Optimized Storage Solution (BOSS)

  3. OCP 3.0 Networking

Energy Efficient Power Supplies with Optimized Chassis Placement

Obviously the VxRail HCI node Power Supply Units (PSUs) are fundamental and critical components to deliver reliable and redundant power to the system chassis. All VxRail node models as of this post require dual PSUs, meaning they are configured, sold, and shipped with dual PSUs in each node. The highly available and reliable VxRail appliance approach to HCI starts with a redundant power approach within each node chassis. The PSUs are also highly efficient. The 1100W PSUs in our lab VxRail E660F and P670F nodes are Titanium rated with 90 – 96% efficiency depending on load. This means we a selecting the highest efficiency PSUs available for our VxRail node configurations.


Another generational improvement on VxRail 15G is the optimized chassis placement of the PSUs. Let us show you what that means in a photo from our lab:



Figure 3 VxRail P670F Optimized PSU Placement



Figure 4 VxRail E660F Optimized PSU Placement


Notice the PSUs are placed at opposite ends of the server chassis. This is an improvement over previous generations of VxRail nodes where the server chassis had both PSUs on the same side of the chassis. This optimized PSU placement allows for better thermal design and improved cable management.


Hot Pluggable Boot Optimized Storage Solution (BOSS)

The Dell EMC Boot Optimized Storage Solution (BOSS) is where VMware vSphere ESXi boots from on VxRail 15G nodes. BOSS is a mirrored RAID solution designed specifically for operating systems. It is an ideal boot solution for ESXi providing high-endurance performant storage for the latest VMware requirements for system boot, ESXi boot modules, ESX-OSData including logs, traces, configurations, and core dumps. Fortunately, the VxRail System Software automation via VxRail Manager is responsible for optimal ESXi boot configuration and ongoing updates of the boot environment via the VxRail Lifecycle Management (LCM) capabilities. The BOSS available with current VxRail 15G nodes is known as a BOSS S2 module. The BOSS S2 provides convenient serviceability of the mirrored boot storage via direct access from the rear of the server chassis without removing the system cover. VxRail 15G nodes are configured with two 480GB M.2 SSDs in a mirrored hardware RAID configuration.



Figure 5 VxRail E660F BOSS S2


The dual 480GB M.2 BOSS SSDs are directly accessible on the rear left side of our VxRail E660F node and even have status LEDs for easy visual identification and troubleshooting.



Figure 6 VxRail P670F BOSS S2


The VxRail P670F nodes have the BOSS located just above the iDRAC network connection and are easy to find and access for service if necessary.


Servicing the BOSS M.2 SSDs is a simple task of opening the latch and sliding the module out of the BOSS carrier. It is possible to perform as a hot-plug operation and if service or replacement is necessary refer to the latest procedures in Dell EMC SolVe documentation for VxRail.




Figure 7 VxRail E660F BOSS S2 M.2 SSD Removal


OCP 3.0 Networking on VxRail 15G

VxRail Intel 15G nodes introduced Open Compute Project (OCP) 3.0 server Networking Interface Cards (NICs). OCP 3.0 is an open specification industry standard networking form factor that improves thermal performance, bandwidth, and customer choice. It’s a compact form factor that does not consume a PCIe Expansion Slot on the VxRail E660F and P670F nodes. And here are the quick visuals of the OCP 3.0 cards on the VxRail E660F and P670F




As of this post the VxRail E660F and P670F HCI platforms can be configured with dual or quad port 10 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or 25GbE OCP 3.0 modules. Additionally, multiple 100GbE, 25GbE, and 10GbE PCIe NICs may be configured with VxRail platforms. (You may notice the additional (un-cabled) dual 25GbE PCIe NIC in the photo of the VxRail E660F node.) This allows for significant network configurability and flexibility with VxRail HCI.


Summary

VxRail continues to evolve, further integrate, and enhance the hardware platform to provide an industry leading hyperconverged infrastructure appliance. This brief post only covers a few of many new hardware features inside VxRail 15G platforms. The foundational enhancements to PSU, boot storage, and networking components may not be most glamorous but give a small view into the level of engineering detail for the product. Stay tuned to our GEOS Engineering Technologist site for additional insight on Dell EMC VxRail and PowerEdge 15G.




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