Dell PowerEdge 2950: Full Review with Specs, Price, and More

Hi there! Welcome to this in-depth review of the Dell PowerEdge 2950 server. I‘m thrilled you‘re here – that likely means you appreciate both computing history and modern data center technology alike. This article will offer a comprehensive look at everything that made the 2950 an iconic rack server since its 2006 debut.

We‘ll explore all the nitty-gritty details around its specifications, public reception, and evolution. My aim is to showcase the innovation that the 2950 brought to the table while also charting the continual advances servers have made since.

So whether you‘re a technology enthusiast wanting to learn about enterprise hardware or an IT professional managing an legacy 2950 still running strong, you‘ll find something valuable within this guide. Let‘s get started!

Overview of the Dell PowerEdge 2950 Server

The PowerEdge 2950 entered the scene in 2006 as part of the 9th generation of Dell‘s server portfolio. It delivered excellent performance and flexibility for the era at an affordable starting price around $1500.

As a 2U rackmount server, the 2950 hit a nice balance between density and expansion room. Its dual/quad-core Intel Xeon 5000 series processors and FB-DIMM RAM provided cutting edge specs to handle intensive business workloads. Storage scaled to multi-terabyte capacity too.

The 2950 was highly configurable as well. Customers could choose components like:

  • Number of CPUs (one or two)
  • Hard drive type (SAS or SATA)
  • RAID level
  • NICs, HBAs, and other PCIe cards

This customizability made the 2950 well-suited for a diverse set of enterprise apps – everything from databases to messaging, file services, virtualization, and beyond.

Let‘s now dive deeper into the specific capabilities that allowed this server to power small businesses and large corporations alike…

Detailed Overview of the 2950‘s Specifications

The baseline Dell PowerEdge 2950 shipped with these core hardware components:

Processors1 or 2 Intel Xeon 5000 series chips (Dual/Quad core), up to 3GHz clock speeds per core
RAM4GB FB-DIMM DDR2 ECC Memory, Expandable to 64GB across 8 DIMM slots
Storage2.5" chassis: Up to 8 Hot-Swap SAS/SATA HDD/SSDs

3.5" chassis: Up to 6 SATA or 4 SAS HDDs
RAIDSAS 6iR Raid Controller with 512MB BBWC
NetworkingDual Embedded Broadcom Gigabit NICs
ManagementRemote Access Card 5 via Dedicated NIC

You can understand why the 2950 gained popularity as such a flexible "Swiss army knife" server. It utilized top of the line processing and memory while providing ample expansion room.

Businesses could customize specs like storage and NICs to perfectly fit their workloads too. And all in a space-saving 2U chassis.

Now let‘s explore some real-world data on how well the 2950 actually performed…

Dell 2950 Benchmark Performance

Lab test results quantify the 2950‘s power at the time it hit markets:

BenchmarkDell 2950 Score
SPECcpu2006 (baseline)76.9 @ 3GHz
SPECjbb2005 (JOPS)77,297
VMmark 1.1 (VMs)17 VMs
Windows Server 2008 R2 File Copy Test1898 MBps Read, 1983 MBps Write

These numbers were quite impressive back then, especially running enterprise applications. The 2950 handled demanding databases, virtual machines, Java middleware, Windows services and more without breaking much of a sweat.

Of course compute and storage speeds have grown exponentially since the mid 2000s. Modern servers utilizing SSDs, cutting edge CPUs like Intel and AMD‘s latest offerings, and terabytes of RAM make the 2950 seem tiny by comparison.

But again, we have to judge the innovation of that era by its time – and for a sub $2000 server, 2950 owners got A LOT of bang for their buck.

Now let‘s examine how businesses actually utilized these workhorses…

Public Reception and Case Studies From 2950 Owners

The 2950 saw heavy deployment across companies of all sizes and industries right from launch. Its sales topped $200 million within months as positive reviews poured in. Owners praised the performance, density, power efficiency, and value the 2950 delivered.

Here are some real world examples of how organizations leveraged the 2950:

  • Engineering Firms – Used 2950s to run CAD/CAM and EDA applications faster with ample computing resources.
  • Web Hosting Companies – Packed racks of 2950s to affordably host thousands of customer websites and backend databases.
  • Education Institutions – Deployed 2950s to consolidate file, print, email, DHPC and other campus services efficiently.
  • Cloud Startups – Built early IaaS platforms powered by small server farms of 2950s to compete with AWS.

15 years later, many 2950s still hum along reliably across these sectors and more. But just how much staying power could the 2950 offer compared to other legacy Dell servers? Let‘s find out…

The 2950 vs Other Vintage Dell Servers

The 2950 arrived a full decade after Dell‘s first PowerEdge servers hit the scene. So how did it size up against earlier models like the…

  • PowerEdge 1650 – 1996 debut 1U server
  • PowerEdge 2650 – 2001 launch 2U server

And how did the 2950 compare to successors like the 2010 era R610? Let‘s see…

ServerPowerEdge 1650PowerEdge 2650PowerEdge 2950PowerEdge R610
Year Released1996200120062008
CPU OptionsSingle Pentium IISingle XeonDual Xeon 5000Dual Xeon 5500
Drive Bays4 x 3.5"6 x 1"8 x 2.5" or 6 x 3.5"8 x 2.5"
PCIe Slots3555

It‘s fascinating seeing the rapid evolution that occurred between just these four snapshots in time. The 2950 massively outpaced earlier models while getting surpassed itself only a few years later as computing power scaled exponentially.

This table underscores how the 2950 represented a major inflection point for increased core resources. The CPU, memory, storage and expansion capabilities proved night and day compared to turn of the millenium servers.

Now let‘s examine how technology continued progressing both during and after the 2950‘s tenure…

Server Innovation Before, During, and After the 2950

It‘s awe-inspiring to chart the continual improvements in server technology year after year. Let‘s analyze the major Compute advances that bookended the 2950 era and extend to today:

Pre-2950 Innovation – Mid 90s to 2005

  • Single core CPUs
  • Rise of x86 architecture
  • First rackmount servers
  • Introduction of SAS, SATA, FC drives
  • RAID adoption for redundancy

2950 Reign – 2006 to 2010

  • Dual + quad core Xeon CPUs
  • Energy efficient components
  • Hot swappable disks
  • Hardware virtualization
  • Remote lights-out management

Post-2950 – 2010 onwards

  • Density via blades form factors
  • Flash accelerated storage
  • GPU and FPGA offloads
  • Disaggregated composable infrastructure
  • Data analytics and ML optimized hardware

What‘s fascinating is that innovative new categories continually arise even once a certain technology seems mature. We see this today with bleeding edge offerings like:

  • Liquid cooled systems
  • ARM and RISC-V based processors
  • Storage class memory
  • Silicon photonics interconnects
  • Optane Persistent Memory
  • Smart NICs and composable disaggregated infrastructure

The future indeed looks exciting as today‘s racks of 2950s eventually give way to next generation data center infrastructure.

Now let‘s shift gears and examine options for obtaining this iconic server in 2023 and beyond…

Where to Buy the Dell PowerEdge 2950 Today

I realize after reading this deep dive, you may feel tempted to snag one of these legends secondhand! However, finding a PowerEdge 2950 in good working order proves challenging in 2023. Used/refurbished units float around eBay and specialty retailers, but supply has dried up.

And while the 2950 served valiantly for many years, most modern apps demand a lot more horsepower. I‘d only recommend pursuing a 2950 today for hobbyist tech enthusiasts, not businesses needing production ready hardware.

Instead, let‘s explore some current generation alternatives that deliver drastically more performance:

  • Dell PowerEdge R7525 – Dell‘s latest AMD EPYC flagship for HPC, analytics and virtualization workloads. Packs dual 3rd Gen EPYC Milan CPUs with up to 64 cores and astounding memory bandwidth.

  • Dell PowerEdge R750 – Featuring the latest 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Sapphire Rapids chips. Purpose built for data intensive roles like business intelligence, databases, software defined storage and vDI environments.

  • Dell PowerEdge XE8545 – Cutting edge 4U Dell server optimized for AI, deep learning, high speed analytics and HPC via 8 premium NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs.

Servers like those above eclipse even the mighty 2950 by leaps and bounds. You gain advantages like:

  • 50% faster single thread performance
  • 4X more CPU cores
  • 8X higher memory bandwidth
  • 10-100X quicker storage via NVMe SSDs
  • Plus specialized AI and GPGPU acceleration

The raw speed simply can‘t compare. Obviously these latest Dell models carry higher price tags. But the performance per dollar has clearly ramped up exponentially across 15 years of hardware advancements.

Ultimately I suggest having an open discussion with a seasoned Dell account rep about sizing a modern configuration appropriately for your apps. They can ensure you get the exact specifications needed today without overspending.

Concluding Thoughts

And with that we wrap up our journey rediscovering the iconic Dell PowerEdge 2950 1U server. I thoroughly enjoyed charting the evolution of everything from its processors to storage drives to software compatibility.

What I find so compelling is appreciating the innovation timeline – recognizing how the 2950 pushed boundaries for its era across computing resources, density, and performance per watt.

It still awes me how far server technology has progressed from the mid 2000s to today. We witnessed 10X feats like:

  • Quad core CPUs become 64 core CPUs
  • 4GB of RAM grow to 4TB
  • 100Mb/s networks transition to 400GbE
  • HDDs replaced by blazing fast NVMe SSDs

And that‘s just on current generation mainstream server specs! We‘ll soon see radical tech like DDR5 memory, PCIe 6.0, ARM processors and optics become commonplace.

I hope this guide provided valuable insights not only on the venerable 2950 itself but also the continually escalating infrastructure modernizing today‘s data centers. Please feel free to reach out with any other retro hardware you‘d like to see profiled next!

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