Dell EMC PowerEdge MX750c Server Blade Review

April 7, 2023 0 By Lorena Mejia

Dell just keeps on adding new units to their PowerEdge MX7000 blade enclosure. It’s designed to support multiple generations of CPUs. And today, we will be looking at the Dell EMC PowerEdge MX750c server blade (SHOP HERE). This is the latest one, or at least the latest one we received in-house. The MX750c supports the 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors with a definite performance boost from more cores, PCIe 4.0, and more memory channels. Without further ado, let’s dive in. 

The MX750c looks just like the MX740c. However, the MX740c supported 1st and 2nd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors while the MX750c is outfitted with those 3rd generation processors which also have a slightly larger socket, so there is no going back. At the same time, what’s a blade server without the enclosure? 

The Dell EMC PowerEdge MX7000 chassis was released in August of 2018. It offers a “Kinetic infrastructure” for the modern software-defined data center. It provides the power, cooling, central management, and networking. The blades provide compute, memory, and storage. The server nodes on the MX7000 connect directly to the I/O, and storage modules.

There is no midplane board used as the interface between the I/O and storage modules, like on the M1000e, which is the obsolete blade enclosure this one replaces. Instead, new technologies can be installed on the server sleds which connect directly to the I/O modules through an orthogonal connection. Those I/O and storage modules on the back of the MX7000 can be switched out, while the PCIe mezzanine cards on the server nodes that connect to those modules can be upgraded and replaced too. No midplane plane board is required, which means less parts to fail. 

The MX7000 chassis can support 8x single-wide blades, 4x double-wide blades, or a combination of the two. There’s even been talk of half-height modules in the future, so perhaps up to 16 of those.

There are currently only 4 modules supported on this system. The MX740c, MX840c, MX5016s exclusively for storage, and the server sled we have today, the MX750c. Notice the little “S” and “C” on those names? For storage and compute.

There are 6x hot-swappable platinum rated 3000W PSUs located on the lower front portion of the chassis. Above those, 4x 60mm fans arranged vertically right down the center and control panels to either side.

With compute and storage sleds on the front arranged vertically and modules in back arranged horizontally, each blade can connect to I/O fabrics A and B, plus the storage C fabric and management modules. There is the potential to install two of each of the modules for redundancy but not required. There are also 5x more fans in back pulling that DRAM, PMem scented air out for the chassis.   

Offering dual CPU sockets, the MX740c and MX750c are single-width compute modules. The MX740c supports 1stand 2nd gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors and 6x storage bays. The MX750c, also has 4- 6-bays but with support for 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors. Featuring up to 4x CPUs is the 8-bay MX840c, also with support for 1st and 2nd generation Intel Xeon scalable processors.

Both the MX740c and MX750c can provide almost 8TB of memory at capacity, while the MX840c can deliver a little over 15TB of memory. All can be outfitted with Persistent memory modules, but only the MX840c and MX740c can host non-volatile DIMMs using 1st generation Intel Xeon Scalable CPUs. However, the additional battery required for NVDIMMs will reduce the number of active drive bays on the MX840c to 6x. The single-width MX5016s storage module can house up to 16x hot-swap 2.5-inch SAS drives. It supports a x4 SAS connections to each of the eight front facing sled bays in the MX7000 chassis.

1x to 7x MX5016s storage modules can be installed but you will need at least one of the compute modules to connect to and of course at least one MX5000 C fabric module in the back of the chassis.

About a week after Intel’s announcement of the 3rd generation Xeon Scalable processors in March of 2021, Dell announced the Dell EMC PowerEdge MX750c with support for 3rd Gen CPUs. 3rd gen Xeon Scalable processors offer 8x to 40x physical cores and 16x to 80x virtual threads depending on the SKU. At this point, only the Platinum version support 40 cores, while Gold will max out at 32 cores, and silver at 20 cores. Still Platinum and Gold offer a significant boost from the 28 cores available on the first- and second-generation Xeons Scalable processors. This particular chassis came with dual Gold 32 Core 6338 CPUs with a 205W TDP, 48MB cache, and a base clock of 2.00GHz. 

Third gen CPUs also support faster and higher performing memory with 8x memory channels instead of only 6x. Maximum memory at up to 7.68TB is achieved using 16x 200 series Persistent memory modules paired with 16x RDIMMs. While the MX740c will provide the same memory count, it uses 100 series Persistent memory modules. But there is still a memory boost using Standard DDR4 LRDIMM and RDIMM memory with support for up to 4TB compared to only 3TB on the MX740c using only DDR4. Memory speeds of up to 3200MHZ can be achieved with Platinum and Gold or only 2933MHz using Silver. PCIe 4.0 delivers twice the bandwidth compared to PCIe 3.0, as on the MX740c, and provides better performance for I/O and NVMe storage. There is a configurable TDP limit of 270W on CPUs that can be installed in the MX750c, which really isn’t a limit considering that’s the top TDP listed for 3rd gen Scalable processors. The larger socket design means the motherboard is incompatible with the 1st and second-generation CPUs. 

The MX750c supports 4x to 6x hot-plug SAS, SATA or NVMe storage devices depending on the backplane. Outfitted with a universal backplane, cables for the NVMe drives can be plugged directly into the system board with 3x PCIe Gen4 x8 connectors. A dedicated PCIe 4.0 x16 socket for a PowerEdge RAID controller is available for support of SAS or just more control over SATA. If SATA drives are used, they can find limited software RAID support provided by the integrated Intel S150 controller on the blade. There are quite a few options for support of both local and external drives, like those provided by the MX5016s storage module. A mini mezzanine connector plugs into the storage Fabric C module MX5000 for a seamless SAS fabric connection without any cables.

The MX7000 offers embedded, agile management of all components. Two redundant MX9002m management modules support the embedded management solution, the Dell OpenManage Enterprise Modular Edition or OME. The compute sled level each is equipped with the integrated Dell Remote Access Controller or iDRAC 9.0 modules that connect to the MX9002m management modules for comprehensive coverage of individual, multiple servers, and chassis. QuickSync II which uses the OpenManage Mobile app also provides options for at chassis management of the system.

There are 2x PCIe 4.0 x16 mezzanine slots for Mezzanine fabrics A and B respectively, each with two connectors for redundancy if you install two I/O per fabric. Another x16 slot is for a mini-mezzanine card connecting to fabric C, assuming you include a storage module and storage blade in the enclosure.

There is a dedicated PCIe 3.0 slot for a boot optimized subsystem, or BOSS, that can be outfitted with dual M.2 drives in mirror mode for redundancy. Or you can install a dual SD card module (DSDCM) to support a hypervisor and features two SD cards on one side and a Flash drive on the other. That flash drive can be used by iDRAC to store system firmware updates and patches. An internal USB connector at the back of the blade also provides options for additional storage or support of a limited OS. But you can’t have both as the cards use the same slot…. A dedicated slot on the side is used for an internal PERC controller like an HBA 350i MX or and H755 MX. That H755 MX will support SAS, SATA or NVMe drives depending on the backplane and server configuration. The Fab-C Mezz controller can be either PERC H745P MX, or HBA330 MMZ. 

While the Dell EMC PowerEdge MX750c may look like the MX740c, it’s got some serious upgrades under the hood with the help of those dual 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors. More compute power, faster memory, plus better I/O and NVMe support with PCIe 4.0. We think we will be seeing more blades, hopefully an AMD EPYC based system soon.

If you’re interested in any of these blades, or have questions about any other system, contact us today or visit our website.