Dell EMC PowerEdge R650XS Server Review￼October 17, 2022
The Dell EMC PowerEdge R650XS server is ideal for the cloud, data center, or your own enterprise network. It’s got some impressive features with support for dual 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, hybrid storage options, including all NVMe, and it supports up to 2TB of memory. At 1U it packs some serious computational power for virtualization, scale-out database, and other high-performance workloads.
2x 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors with support for 8x memory channels and typically PMem modules too. Intel says each CPU can handle up to 4TB of memory. And even though this system has only 16 memory module slots, we were expecting at least 4TB. But this system peaks at 2TB of memory? Apparently, this system is meant to scale to a point.
Licensing for VMware ESXI vSphere means one license per 32 core processor. With two CPUs limited to 32 cores and only 2TB of memory, that means you can allocate a core, or two virtual cores, of processing power plus up to 8GB of memory for each virtual machine or virtual desktop instance for peak performance. You can still allocate more or less to each VM, but clearly, they are making a concerted effort to provide just enough performance and presumably save themselves some production costs in the meantime. Sometimes just enough is better than too much, especially when money is involved.
The small control panel on the front left-hand side of the system is outfitted with a system status button with 5 LED indicators for drives, temperature, electrical, memory and PCIe. It’s also available with Dell’s QuickSync 2 wireless indicator but only on certain models. Quick Sync 2 allows you to quickly connect to the system wirelessly using a smartphone or tablet. On the other side is another small control panel with the Power ON button, iDRAC Direct micro port, and an iDRAC Direct Status LED. A VGA port is located right beside this control panel.
You have a choice between a configuration with 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drive bays or none at all. With no drive support the system would be used primarily for computation, in-memory applications, or perhaps a storage area network. The 3.5-inch chassis has 4x drive bays supporting SAS or SATA drive formats. 2x 2.5-inch chassis configurations include one supporting 10 hybrid bays with support for SAS, SATA or NVME formats and another that supports NVMe exclusively.
On the back of the system, you have the option for two more 2.5-inch drive bays that would occupy a drive cage in PCIe slots 2 and 3 adjacent to the dual redundant PSUs. Those 2 rear storage bays can provide more than 15TB of additional storage.
Another PCIe slot is located just above the two integrated RJ45 Ethernet LAN ports offering connection speeds of 1Gb Ethernet and a dedicated integrated iDRAC port for remote management of the system using a standard browser. The adjacent NICs can also be shared with iDRAC when network settings are set to shared mode. The BOSS riser is also on the back of the system squeezed between the PCIe slots but we’ll take a look at that when we pop the cover off. Next a USB 3.0 port on top and USB 2.0 port on the bottom. Beside those is a mezzanine card slot for a OCP 3.0 network card, which can be easily installed or replaced without removing the server cover. That last little button is for system Identification.
Managing the system can be accomplished a few different ways. Connecting a crash cart on the front panel with the micro-USB port and VGA display port on the front of the system. Using the dedicated management port in back, you can connect to the system remotely in band or out of band with a direct line to the integrated Dell Remote Access Controller with LifeCycle Controller. You can also get at-chassis management of the system with QuickSync 2 using a smartphone or tablet to connect via bluetooth using the OpenManage Mobile app. iDRAC works with Dell OpenManage to deliver one-to-many management and includes the OpenManage PowerCenter, Repository Manager and Storage Management for locally attached RAID disk Storage. Dell’s management tools provide automation and scripting libraries, plus a single point for stack management with easy integration with Microsoft System Center, VMware vCenter and Red Hat Ansible, including a few more integrations and connections with opensource management software like Nagios, and more. Let’s get back to the hardware…
Now that the cover is removed you can see the dual CPU sockets behind that bank of 7 hot swap fans. In front of that is the drive cage backplane. This particular platform is outfitted for the SAS/SATA option with 8x 2.5-inch drive bays.
Once the panel on top of the drive cage is removed, there is a dedicated spot, which in this case is occupied by a PERC 11 H755 front SAS controller offering 12Gb/s performance. In the event of a power failure, that backup battery pack next to the Controller powers the system just long enough to enable data in the cache buffer to be stored to disk. This PERC can support up to 16x drives without a SAS expander but we only have 8. There are several other controllers to choose from depending on the chassis configuration and potential workload.
As a 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, it occupies a slightly larger socket which is incompatible with the earlier 1st and 2nd generation CPUs. In that respect, we do wonder why this is not an entirely different CPU family. In addition to the larger socket, it does support more cores at up to 40, compared to the earlier Scalable Processor generations. Although not on this specific platform.
It also features more PCIe lanes at 64 compared to only 48 lanes on previous Scalable processor versions. PCIe 4.0 too, offering 2x times the bandwidth compared to PCIe 3.0. Also, more memory with 8x memory channels instead of only 6, and faster memory too. Each processor is in charge of 8x memory module sockets for 16x active memory module slots with both processors installed. DDR4 Registered DIMM modules are supported with a top speed of up to 3200MT/s.
As previously stated, the CPU is limited to a 32-core version and a Thermal Design Point of 220W. 32 cores is also the maximum number of cores available on the Gold family of Intel Xeon Scalable processors, with only the Platinum version supporting up to 40 cores. If you go Silver you’re looking at a top core count of 20 physical cores. With 2x 32x core Gold or Platinum processors installed, that would be 64 physical cores and 128 virtual threads.
For booting the system without using the front drive bays, you have a few options, BOSS, IDSDM, USB, or the optional rear drive bay with two drives. That optional rear drive cage will provide a little over 15TB of storage. Maybe not the best use for that, even if you can create a hardware RAID.
There is a dedicated slot for a Boot Optimized Storage Subsystem or BOSS at the back of the system right next to the OCP mezzanine card slot. The BOSS can be used to boot the system with the BOSS providing a hardware RAID with 2x M.2 cards. A dedicated slot for a dual SD card module, or IDSDM, is placed right next to the BOSS card slot. It has two SD cards plus a vFlash card on the other side for storage that can be used by iDRAC. The IDSDM is best used to support an embedded hypervisor and has the added benefit of a mirrored SD card, if there are two cards installed. However, it should be noted that VMware no longer supports booting from and SD Card. Alternatively, the internal USB also with a dedicated slot, can be used to boot the system but can also be used as a security key or mass storage device. Options, options…
That dedicated slot is for the PCIe Gen 4 OCP 3.0 card in back that occupies a x16 link slot. Up to 3x PCIe slots are available depending on your choice of riser options for riser 1 and 2, each with a PCIe 4.0 interface. The PCIe slots provide for a number of different network communications offering 1GbE to 100Gb Ethernet, which is the same for the OCP card. We will mention that the specifications make no mention of support for a GPU but we suppose theoretically it could be outfitted with a low power T4, or P4 maybe even an A2. You can also install additional superfast storage with a PCIe SSD add-in-card.
The Dell EMC PowerEdge R650xs has some impressive features with dual 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, hybrid storage, a fairly large memory footprint and options for I/O. This is a highly flexible platform designed for data warehouses, ecommerce, databases, plus high-performance computing applications. And at only 1U in height, surely there’s room to squeeze this system into your existing network.
As you ponder that, check out ITCreations.com. We are partners with Dell and have this server and many more in stock at any given time. If you have any questions about this system or any other, post them in the comments section below or visit our website, and use the chat feature. We’re happy to answer your questions!