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Dell partners with Intel, releases file storage for Azure

With the recent Intel and Azure partnerships, Dell continues to expand its on-premises options for AI while expanding its Apex data file services in the cloud.

Dell Technologies is continuing down the path to AI and cloud by branching out to support more AI accelerators and cloud file storage offerings, potentially relieving supply chain backlogs and giving customers more options.

Dell is adding the Intel Gaudi 3 AI accelerator as an option to its PowerEdge XE9680 a few weeks after its expanded partnership with Nvidia. The new accelerator chip was released last week and can compete in terms of speed on model training and inferencing compared with Nvidia's H100 and H200 GPUs, adding another choice for AI-centric workloads, according to Intel.

Dell is aiming to provide an AI technology stack and set of services to customers. Because of long lead times with Nvidia, Dell also needs to think about alternative accelerators, according to Simon Robinson, an analyst at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group.

"Second sourcing completely makes sense for Dell," Robinson said.

Separately, Dell released its Apex File Storage for Microsoft Azure to general availability, which provides scale-out file capabilities that can work with bursting use cases, including AI, the vendor said.

More than Nvidia

The Dell PowerEdge XE9680 now supports the Intel Gaudi 3, along with Nvidia H100 or A100 and AMD's MI300X, designed for high-performance computing and AI workloads.

Dell is giving its customers choice.
Steve McDowell Founder and analyst, NAND Research

Dell's partnership with Intel reflects its recent partnership with Nvidia to offer an AI Factory to customers, which stitches together server and storage hardware, training and retrieval-augmented generation software and services aimed at helping customers setup their AI initiatives, according to Steve McDowell, founder and analyst at NAND Research.

"Dell is giving its customers choice," he said.

Intel will prioritize the new accelerators cards to OEMs over cloud partners, McDowell said. For OEMs, the Gaudi 3 will be available mid-year and for cloud providers, availability is slated for the fourth quarter.

Intel and Dell have partnered for years, but the Gaudi 3 technology is new compared with the Nvidia H100, which has been in use for some time, Robinson said.

"The whole architecture needs to be proven out," Robinson said, adding that Intel has made bold claims around performance and power in terms of price.

But it should not be discounted that Intel is now more fully in the AI accelerator market and working with large OEMs like Dell, Robinson said.

Intel Gaudi 3 will be based on open frameworks and software, Robinson said. As the market moves from Nvidia-dominated to a multi-vendor environment, there might be a need for a more open process and a different delivery method, referring to Intel's intent to provide open, community-based software and industry-standard Ethernet networking, as well as its focus on OEMs.

More file for AI?

Since late 2023, Dell has pitched its PowerScale file storage for AI, with new all-flash hardware built on Dell PowerEdge servers. That pitch continued with the general availability of PowerScale OneFS operating system for Azure Cloud. Dell Apex File Storage for Microsoft Azure uses native replication, copying data using native Dell processes to move data from on premises to Azure.

Originally known as Project Alpine, Dell aimed to move its block-and-file services into clouds and decoupled OneFS software from its storage, McDowell said. Doing so helps Dell compete with NetApp, which already offers block-and-file storage services in the cloud. But in recent months, Dell has been pointing to its service as also being AI-friendly.

Compared with NetApp, Dell claims in a blog post that Apex File Storage for Microsoft Azure has six times greater cluster performance, up to 11 times larger namespace, up to 23 times more snapshots per volume and two times the cluster resiliency.

Whether or not the market needs another storage-as-a-service offering is unclear, McDowell said, but it is an area of focus and growth for Dell.

"For Dell customers that want a hybrid cloud experience, it is a good option," he said.

However, the tie to AI here isn't as clear as the Gaudi 3 addition, McDowell said.

"The link to AI is tenuous," he said.

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

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