In our review of Dell’s PowerEdge 6950, we observed that the DL585 G2 was its most formidable opponent, and it’s easy to see why. HP has thrown away the design specifications for the G1 and started from scratch. Gone are the two massive hot-plug power supplies at the front, to be replaced by a full chassis-width drawer that contains a separate circuit board with the processors and memory. The unit can be screwed in place, but pressing the clip at the top brings down a large handle, which releases the unit. Locking plates on both sides of the drawer stop the unit falling out; with these depressed, the drawer can be easily removed.
The handle release clip needs to be pushed back to unlock the top cover, and this swings back to reveal the processors and memory in all their glory. Safety still comes first, as the lid is locked in place when open to prevent it dropping back on your fingers. The four processor sockets are positioned in two groups front and back, with each one partnered by a bank of eight DIMM sockets that allow memory to be expanded to 128GB. For the quoted price, you get a pair of 2.6GHz Opteron 8218 dual-core modules topped off with large passive heatsinks. Cooling is neatly handled by a pair of 120mm hot-swap fans that sit in the lid between the two processor groups.
The new design has also allowed HP to improve its storage prospects, as with eight small-form-factor bays the G2 has double the capacity potential of its predecessor. Tucking up the drive enclosure to one side leaves the large central section free for unrestricted airflow through the chassis, and on the other side you have room for floppy and optical drives along with D-SUB and two USB ports.
Placing the processors and memory on a dedicated daughterboard at the front of the chassis makes for a tidy internal design. The server comes with a pair of compact 910W hot-swap power supplies as standard, located on each side at the rear of the chassis. With the processors rated at just 95W, the two central fans are augmented with two more pairs on each side of the chassis. Storage fault tolerance comes as standard, as the two interfaces on the hard disk backplane are wired through to HP’s Smart Array P400 controller that occupies one of the PCI-E 4x slots. This comes with 512MB of cache memory, and the separate battery backup pack means RAID6 dual-drive redundancy is on the menu too. There’s plenty of room to expand further, as the main motherboard offers a good selection of PCI-X and PCI-E slots. The network connection is handled by a pair of Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet controllers, which include a TOE for improving iSCSI operations and is activated via the ProLiant Essentials licensing kit.
Server-management options couldn’t be better, as HP’s Systems Management Homepage provides local and remote browser access where you can view installed components and check their status, monitor areas such as available disk space and reboot the server. The bundled Systems Insight Manager provides enhanced browser-based remote management and monitoring, delivering information about system operations, alerting facilities and the ability to remotely access other HP servers with an Insight agent installed.
In addition, all ProLiant servers come with HP’s embedded iLO2, which provides a secure remote browser interface with the server irrespective of its status. As long as you have power, you can reset the server or power it off and on. It also provides tools for monitoring the status of the controller and server and viewing installed components. But note that full remote control is an optional extra.
The first-generation DL585 set a high standard for others to follow, and the G2 continues this fine tradition. It delivers a superb design, plus high expansion capabilities at a competitive price. Furthermore, it can be upgraded to 16-way processing as soon as AMD delivers its quad-core Barcelona processor later this year.
HP’s Opteron MP server delivers an innovative design teamed with high expansion potential and a good price.
• Hewlett-Packard: www.hp.com.au
4U rack server • 2 x 2.6GHz AMD Opteron 8218 • 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 128GB • HP Smart Array P400 PCI-E SAS RAID with 512MB cache memory and battery backup • supports RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6 • 2 x 36GB HP 10K 2.5in SAS hard disks in hot-swap carriers • 2 x Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet • 3 x PCI-E 8x • 4 x PCI-E 4x • 2 x 100MHz PCI-X slots • integrated iLO2 management controller • 2 x 910W redundant PSUs • HP SmartStart and Insight Manager bundled