Dell is launching new servers based on Intel's new dual core Xeons, the 5000 and 5100 -- previously codenamed Demsey and Woodcrest respectively. Dell's move mirrors IBM and HP's similar releases announced recently.

The new servers sit in what product manager Hugh Jenkins called "the sweet spot": single or dual processor, dual core servers, which are Dell's biggest sellers. The new products consist of the PowerEdge 1950, 2950 and 2900, plus a blade, the 1955.

The new chips "boost performance considerably," according to Jenkins. The new dual-core Xeons will replace Intel's Paxville chips, which have struggled in the face of fierce competition from AMD's Opteron processors, and have been widely seen as a stopgap to provide Intel with time to catch up. Many server makers didn't bother developing Paxville-based products as a result.

Jenkins said that the 5100 series brings up to 150 percent improvement, with the 5000 systems delivering 60 percent more performance. "We'll be all dual-core from now," said Jenkins.

Both new chips also consume less power -- 65W -- than their predecessors. Compared to Paxville-based servers, power consumption is down 25 percent at system level. This will help relieve hard-pressed data centre cooling systems, many of which are at or near the limits of their capabilities as a result of big increases in heat generation by modern systems.

With the new chips also come new designs and new storage subsystems, according to Jenkins. All the new servers use 2.5-inch drives, either SAS or SATA, which cuts power consumption and use less space. They share a system image, to make moving between the two and managing them easier. The PowerEdge 1950 is a 1U rack-mounted product, the 2950 is 2U and the 2900 is a tower.

All the servers include a new Gigabit Ethernet interface that incorporates Broadcom's TCP/IP Offload Engine, relieving the CPU of some of the packet assembly work. The non-blade products also have new ergonomics, according to Jenkins. This includes consistent layout so that the LEDs and PSU outlets line up in the rack, making fault detection and cable management easier.

The latest rev of Dell's OpenManage system management platform now works with VMware ESX3, and SuSE Linux among other technologies, according to Jenkins.

Staring prices are £899 for the 1950 with SATA drives, £1,199 for the 2950 and £899 for the 2900. The 1955 blade server costs £949. All are available now apart from the Woodcrest-based products, which will be ready next month.

Jenkins couldn't comment on when we'd see AMD-based servers in Dell's range. He said: "Intel's performance and power consumption puts us into leadership position regarding power/performance, and the AMD relationship means will see four-socket machines."