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HP shoots low with Lynnfield ProLiants

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Hewlett-Packard rounded out the G6 generation of its ProLiant x64 servers Monday with the introduction of two machines based on the new quad-core Xeon 3400 processors, which are basically glorified Core i7 desktop chips tweaked for single-socket servers.

With the Nehalem EP Xeon launch at the end of March, Intel rolled out the Xeon 5500s for two-socket boxes as well as the Xeon 3500s for single-socket machines. With a 130 watt power envelope, The Xeon 3500s are too hot (and a bit pricey) for a low-cost single socket server. While the W3520 chip has four cores humming at 2.66GHz for $284 a pop if you buy in 1,000-unit trays, the faster W3540 running at 2.93GHz costs $562 and the top-end 3.2GHz W3570 costs $999. This Xeon 3500 chip is too expensive for small and medium businesses, and it's a bit of a wonder why Intel even bothered, really.

The Xeon 3400 chips, code-name Lynnfield, which made their debut in early September and which have only a few tweaks to make them different from the Core i7 desktop chips, have much lower prices for somewhat lower clock speeds and memory bandwidth - which is not something most SMBs care about anyway. The belly of the Xeon 3400s include the X3430, running at 2.4GHz at $189 each, and the X3440, running at 2.53GHz and costing $215. If you want to splurge, you can go to 2.66GHz for $241. (Those are again Intel list prices. The street prices that server makers charge can be higher or lower depending on their moods and balance sheets.) That's why Dell announced SMB servers based on the Xeon 3400s in early September and IBM followed up a few weeks later.

The ProLiant ML110 G6 tower and DL120 G6 rack servers are aimed at cost-conscious SMBs who still want some high-end features, such something better than a Celeron or Pentium processor and a 100i lights-out service processor for system management. Like all Nehalem-family servers, these two new boxes use DDR3 main memory.

The ML110 G6 tower has four memory slots, but is capped at 8GB of total memory using 2GB DIMMs. (In theory, it should be able to support more memory.) The box has four peripheral slots (the exact type is not in the spec sheet), an integrated RAID controller, and room for four 3.5-inch SAS or SATA drives. HP is supporting the X3430 (2.5GHz) and X3450 (2.66GHz) processors in the machines. A base ML110 G6 comes with one processor, 2GB of memory, one 160GB disk, and a 300-watt power supply; it costs $759.

In the online spec sheet for the DL120 G6, HP says it supports 8GB of DDR3 memory, max, but says the box has six memory slots. One of these bits of data is wrong, unless someone has put out 1.5GB DIMMs. The DL120 G6 has an integrated SATA RAID disk controller, an on-board Gigabit Ethernet port, three peripheral slots, and room for four 3.5-inch SATA drives in the 1U rack chassis. A base machine with the 2.4GHz Xeon X3430. 2GB of memory, no disks, and a 400 watt power supply costs $999.

Both machines will begin shipping on November 16, and presumably support the usual gang of Linux, Windows, and possibly Solaris and NetWare operating systems.

Also starting on November 16, HP will begin shipping what it calls Virtualization Smart Bundles, this time featuring Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system and its Hyper-V hypervisor running on ProLiant servers, and preconfigured with StorageWorks arrays and ProCurve switches. HP is bundling with its MSA2000 arrays to start, but says that next year it will have Hyper-V bundles that include its LeftHand P4000 SAN arrays. Presumably there is some discounting going on for this bundle, but HP did not have specifics at press time.

As part of the SMB launch today, which included some new PCs and online services for collaboration and online archiving, HP also rolled out an entry Ethernet switch, the ProCurve 2520. This switch supports the Power over Ethernet (PoE) protocol, which allows for devices such as IP phones connected to the switch to draw power from the switch rather than another power source. The ProCurve 2520 comes in either 8-port or 24-port models with 100 Mbit or Gigabit Ethernet speeds. At the low and so-called Fast Ethernet speed (remember when 100 Mbit/sec seemed fast?), the 8-port model costs $649, while the 24-port model costs $1,049. Boosting the speed up to Gigabit Ethernet raises the price on the 8-port switch to $999 and on the 24-port switch to $1,999. ®

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