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Dell Focuses on AI Factories: Highlights the Importance of Networking

Dell Technology World 2024 took place at the Venetian Expo Center last week, just a stone’s throw from the Sphere, celebrating 40 years in business. As has been the theme of tech events this spring, Dell also focused on AI and, more specifically, the Dell AI Factory. As Michael Dell explained, the stated goal of these AI factories is to bring AI to the data and leverage these factories to convert data to intelligence for a business. Jensen Huang of NVIDIA highlighted this significance by stating, “For the very first time in history, we now have the ability to manufacture intelligence”.

To accelerate the building of these AI factories, Dell and its partner ecosystem will provide all the infrastructure and services required to build these on-premises environments. This includes high-performance servers, GPUs, networking, storage, and even AI-enabled PCs.

To optimize these AI factories, Dell made many new product announcements including a new server with enhanced GPU density: the 9860L with 72 Blackwell GPUs and liquid cooling, along with new data (PowerScaleF910, Project Lightning filesystem, & AI Data Protection), networking (Z9864F-ON, 400G Ethernet Adaptors, SONiC, & SmartFabric Manager for SONiC), and PC (Copilot PC using Snapdragon X Elite and X Plus) solutions to enable AI environments. And yes, that is not a typo. Dell highlighted the role of high-performance networking during the main stage keynotes. It’s great to see Dell emphasizing networking; however, in keeping with being “open,” Dell will sell its own networking solutions and NVIDIA InfiniBand or Ethernet network solutions.

Dell AI Fabric Options
Another trend seen across the spring show season has been the importance of ecosystem partners. To that end, Dell highlighted its partnerships with ServiceNow, NVIDIA, Intel, Samsung SDS, Broadcom, Microsoft, Nutanix, HuggingFace, and Meta, discussing how the companies have worked together to deliver comprehensive solutions for AI environments. In an increasingly complex and distributed IT environment, an ecosystem of partners will be required to ensure organizations have a fully supported and tightly integrated solution.

Also discussed was the fact that power matters again. While sustainability efforts have been in play for several years, the shift to AI infrastructure will require significant power based on the number of GPUs deployed. As a result, organizations must evaluate available power in their data centers to determine what they can afford to deploy based on their power consumption. Dell announced a solution with the Intel Xeon6 CPU in its servers, enabling organizations to save up to 1 megawatt of power (reducing 200 servers to 72). Sustainable solutions for general computing will gain traction as it allows for more power for AI projects.

Organizations have to embark on AI initiatives to remain competitive. Still, the barrier to entry is high, as most companies need more skills and knowledge of where to start. Dell is looking to change that by providing end-to-end solutions and helping to focus organizations on desired outcomes. Dell customers even have access to a free AI accelerator workshop to help them get started. The most crucial step is the first: organizations must dedicate the time and resources to understand how AI can help their business. Dell wants to help accelerate the time to create your own AI Factory, leveraging its own and ecosystem partner solutions.

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