First Look–Dell PowerEdge M I/O Aggregator

[updated 10.11.2012] In many data centers, rack servers offer organizations the ability to keep server and networking responsibilities separated. However, when blade servers are introduced into an environment, the server and network admins roles start to blur. Should the server admin have to learn networking, or should the networking admin have to learn blade servers? Some blade server environments use pass-thru modules instead of network I/O modules. Pass-thru modules are easy to use and offer the ability to pass the networking upstream to the switch via a 1 to 1 port connection . This approach allows the networking admin to maintain ownership but there is no cable savings within the blade infrastructure since each server port requires a connection to the external top of rack switch. Network I/O modules used within the blade chassis offers a reduction of external cabling along with local switching enabling blade servers to communicate easily within the chassis. admins are forced to learn each others’ roles, which is a great practice, but adds complexity to blade server implementations. What if we could take the ease of a pass-thru module and combine it with the ability to communicate locally? Now you can, with the introduction of the Dell PowerEdge M I/O Aggregator.

Dell PowerEdge M I/O AggregatorAttributes

The PowerEdge M I/O Aggregator comes out-of-the-box with 40 x 10GbE ports available through 32 internal ports and 8 external ports.  It also has the option of extending the external capabilities through 2 optional FlexIO modules. The FlexIO modules options include:

* 2-port QSFP+ module in 4x10GbE mode
* 4-port SFP+ 10GbE module
* 4-port 10GBASE-T 10GbE copper module (1/10GB, only 1 module per IOA is supported)

Performance Details

The PowerEdge M I/O Aggregator is fully IEEE DCB compliant for converged IO supporting iSCSI, NAS, converged Ethernet and Fibre-Channel-based storage applications.  Here are the details on the performance of this module:

  • MAC addresses: 128K
  • Switch fabric capacity: 1.28 Tbps (full-duplex)
  • Forwarding capacity: 960 Mpps
  • Link aggregation: Up to 16 members per group, 128 LAG groups
  • Queues per port: 4 queues
  • VLANs: 4094
  • Line-rate Layer 2 switching: all protocols, including IPv4
  • Packet buffer memory: 9MB
  • CPU memory: 2GB

[updated info 10.11.2012] One of the best features the Dell PowerEdge M I/O Aggregator offers is out of the box it comes enabled with instant “plug and play” connectivity to Dell and multi-vendor networks.  The PowerEdge M I/O Aggregator comes with all VLANs on all ports with the option to set VLANs.  It is also designed to be “no touch” with iSCSI DCB and FCoE settings downloaded from the top of rack switch through DCBx protocol.    The Dell PowerEdge M I/O Aggregator supports DCB (protocols PFC, ETC and DCBx), Converged iSCSI with EqualLogic and Compellent (supports iSCSI TLV) and FCoE Transit to Top of Rack Switch via FIP Snooping Bridge.

Since this is a “first look” this is all I can reveal at this time.  Stay tuned – more updates to come shortly.

Additional References



Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of He has over 15 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace. Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization. Kevin works for Dell as a Server Sales Engineer covering the Global 500 market.