This is the teardown of a Dell PowerEdge 2161DS-2 console switch. These switches are used to remotely manage servers. Think of them as remote controllable KVM switches. It is suitable for mounting in a 19-inch rack. This switch can manage up to 128 servers.


The device is housed in a 19-inch 1U rack mount case. The front does not have any buttons, LEDs or connectors.


The back of the case has a fused power connector and a power switch. There are two small fans next to the power switch.

Case: Power connector

There is a single RJ-45 ethernet connector and a nine-pin D-sub RS-232 connector for remote control. Next to these are two PS/2 connectors, a VGA connector and four USB connectors which can be used to manage any of the attached servers on the spot.

Case: Management connectors

The there are sixteen RJ-45 connectors. These do not carry a regular ethernet signals, but carry a proprietary signal. The device needs special cables actively convert these signals back to VGA and PS/2.

Case: Input connectors

Power supply

The power supply is an off the shelf Astec LPT44. It can deliver +5V at 5A, +12V at 2.5A, and -5V at 0.7A.

Astec LPT44 power supply

Main board

The main board takes up almost all of the space in the case. It is completely loaded with chips and has room for many more chips. The board made up of 10 layers, which is understandable with the amount of (BGA) chips all over the board.

Case: Overview

Power supply

The main board power supply has two buck converters based on the Intersil ISL6225 PWM controller. Each of these controllers has two outputs, which matches with the number of four inductors surrounding the controllers.

The chip on the left, next to the IDC header, is an SMSC USB2503A three port USB 2.0 hub. Two USB ports are exposed via the black header next to the USB hub chip and one via an unpopulated connector behind the power cable.

Main board: Power supply

RJ-45 connectors

Behind the RJ-45 ports sits a Renesas EL4544IGZ triple 16x5 differential crosspoint switch. This chip decodes the RGB signal coming in via the RJ-45 connectors. There is room for a second chip next to it, probably for supporting more parallel connections.

Main board: RJ-45 connectors

Decode sections

The main board has eight sections, of which only two are populated, for decoding the signals coming from the connected servers. The first chip in these sections is a Genesis gmZAN3SL-LF monitor controller. This controller is probably used to convert the incoming RGB signal to a digital signal.

The digital signal goes into a Xilinx Spartan XC3S200 FPGA. This FPGA probably converts the digital signal from the monitor controller to something that can be sent to a remote PC. The FPGA has a single Micron MT46V8M16 128Mb SDRAM chip next to it.

Main board: Decode sections


This device is based on the AMCC PPC405EP PowerPC processor. It has two Micron MT48LC16M16A2 256Mb SDRAM chips next to it and a Freescale MPC184 security processor next to it.

Main board: CPU

Remaining chips

There final part of the main board has a few chips related to the connectors on the back of the device. There is a Marvell 88E8001 gigabit ethernet controller and an NEC D720101 USB 2.0 host controller. Next to the USB host controller are two Intersil ICL3241 RS-232 Transmitter/Receiver chips for the serial connector.

There are sixteen Fairchild 74ACT244 octal buffers. These buffers are connected to the Xilinx Spartan XC3S1000 FPGA. These might have something to do with the digital signals going out via the RJ-45 connectors.

Then there is a large Avocent OSCAR3-AA chip on the board. Its function is unknown. It has an IDT 71V3556 SRAM chip next to it.

Main board: Outputs