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Dell refines AI factory, expands Nvidia partnership

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Dell refines AI factory, expands Nvidia partnership

LAS VEGAS — Dell is leaning into its concept of the AI factory, a stack of technologies aimed at tackling AI training and workloads in the enterprise.

At Dell Technologies World 2024, the vendor unveiled an expanded partnership with Nvidia. The two companies first launched the Dell AI Factory with Nvidia at GTC in March. Here, Dell is refining the Nvidia partnership with new integrations and offerings. It’s also refining its contributions to the AI Factory to include new AI PCs and workstations, as well as networking and server products while building out its partner ecosystem with Hugging Face, Meta and

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Azure to speed training and deployment of AI workloads.

CEO Michael Dell kicked off the conference with a history lesson on factories — from the early mills that needed to turn wheels to the different ways to automate processes. Electricity brought faster automation and machines brought even more so. Now, factories are going one step further, Dell told attendees.

“We are moving from computation toward cognition into the age of AI, ” he said.

We are moving from computation toward cognition into the age of AI.
Michael DellCEO, Dell

Dell was joined on stage by Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott and Samsung SDS CEO Sungwoo Hwang. They talked about how their core technologies are now ******** by AI and automation.

“Every workflow and every enterprise in every industry in every corner of the world will be reinvented with GenAI,” McDermott said.

A closer look

The Dell AI factory is a set of curated and purpose-built technologies for AI. It includes a new portfolio of

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with on-device access to Copilot and powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon Series X; new storage for structured and unstructured data and an uptick in capabilities for its PowerEdge XE9680 server, which Dell called the heart of the AI factory.

On the storage front, Dell added a new scale-out file PowerScale appliance, the PowerScale F910 all-flash array, that comes with a 127% performance improvement over the F900 and better density, according to the company. For mission-critical data such as databases, Dell also unveiled PowerStore Prime, a unified storage offering, at the conference.

“Data has been and is at the center of everything. It’s the rocket fuel. So let’s go where the data is. And no company in the world has provided more storage capacity than Dell,” Dell said.

Dell expanded its networking portfolio to support AI workloads with a new Dell PowerSwitch Z9864F-ON, powered by Broadcom’s Tomahawk 5 chipset for AI workloads with high throughput and low latency demands.

Its PowerEdge XE9680 server now supports Broadcom’s 400G PCIe 5.0 Ethernet adapters for higher performance. Dell also layers its SmartFabric Manager for SONiC software over its hardware to simplify deployment and management for customers.

While most workloads in data centers today are still thought of as legacy, the onset of AI might transform how a data center operates, according to Dave Vellante, an analyst at theCUBE Research. He noted that a year ago, Huang suggested that nearly all workloads would be accelerated by AI, ultimately transforming data centers into AI factories.

“The AI factory is a vision with three layers: infrastructure that is AI-enabled; automation, so you can take labor out of the picture as much as possible; and tooling, which includes things like large language models and LLM options,” Vellante said.

AI applications and services would be layered over an AI factory’s infrastructure, Vellante said. Dell doesn’t have AI applications to offer, but it will work with partners and provide services and infrastructure to help customers build, deploy and run AI apps. One such partner is Hugging Face, to create Dell Enterprise Hub on Hugging Face. The hub allows customers to train LLMs on Dell infrastructure, within their data centers.

Parallel file system: A new Dell frontier

The vendor also highlighted Project Lightning, its own parallel file software, at Dell Technologies World. This is designed for PowerScale and aimed at supporting AI workloads.

AI workloads have grown so large, particularly due to unstructured data, that users are starting to see similar issues to supercomputing, according to Henry Baltazar, an analyst at 451 Research, which is part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Wrangling large data sets and the significant computational demands for data processing are some of the drivers behind using parallel file systems, which can be difficult to use and are now moving to the clouds for AI workloads.

“Dell has to respond,” he said. “That is why we’re seeing that type of technology being developed.”

Although Dell is working to provide a specific AI factory offering with Nvidia, the Dell AI Factory technologies could work with other AI accelerators, including those from AMD and Intel, according to the company.

AI Factory with Nvidia grows

The Dell AI Factory with Nvidia takes the concepts of the AI Factory but builds them with Nvidia hardware and software only.

Dell is expanding server options with the XE9680L that comes with

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, which helps to increase GPU density per server. The cooling allows for up to eight Nvidia Blackwell GPUs in a 4U form factor or 72 in a rack, the highest in the industry, according to Dell.

The Dell NativeEdge, an edge orchestration platform first introduced last summer, now automates Nvidia AI enterprise software. Dell is also adding new services with Nvidia, including Dell Generative AI for Digital Assistants to speed the deployment of these bots.

Dell AI Factory with Nvidia offers a full stack of automation for quick deployment of AI environments. And Dell Accelerator Services for RAG on Precision AI Workstations enables customers to use retrieval-augmented generation on a Dell Precision workstation with Nvidia AI Workbench, a development platform.

Nvidia’s dominance in AI today is similar to the duopoly of

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and Intel in the 1990s and early 2000s, Vellante said. Dell went big into partnerships then, and is doing so again with Nvidia.

“That’s important, because if you’re going to be a provider of AI, you’re going to have to have GPUs in your stack,” he said.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at StorageReview.com.

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