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Three years after introducing its first blade server, Dell Inc. on Monday rolled out the next generation of the dense form factor, promising greater density and price/performance than what competitors are offering.

The Round Rock, Texas, company unveiled the PowerEdge 1855, which combines a small footprint with the latest technologies and management capabilities, according to officials. Compared with Dell’s 1U (1.75-inch) rack servers, the 1855 gives up to 43 percent more performance per square foot, with up to 62 percent more blades than 1U systems in a standard 42U (73.5 inches) rack, officials said.

A 7U (12.25-inch) chassis can hold up to 10 servers and consumes 13 percent less power, officials said.

Powered by Intel Corp.’s “Nocona” Xeon chips, which can run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications, the two-way 1855 is managed by the same OpenManage 4 software used for Dell’s other systems.

Click here to read about Dell’s new blade management features.

The new chassis also is designed to accommodate future technologies such as new processors.

The new blades are available immediately. Pricing for the chassis starts at $2,999, with each blade starting at $1,699.

Land America Financial Group Inc. has been using Dell’s previous blade system offering, the Pentium III-powered 1655MC, for several years.

“They’re good from a space consolidation perspective and cost savings, but they weren’t a true enterprise-class server,” said Ken Meszaros, network design manager for the Richmond, Va., company. “This [1855] has everything we’re looking for: a lot of hot-swappable components, hard drives embedded in the system.”

Redundant power and cooling features and Fibre Channel support for storage-area network connectivity also are important, Meszaros said.

About four years ago, Land America started building a scale-up data center, buying a four-way system, but found that many software platforms performed better in a scale-out environment.

“Certain architectures just don’t scale up very well, so it didn’t make a lot of sense [to pursue that model],” Meszaros said.

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