Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/02/hp_proliant_expansion/

HP leads pack with Istanbul iron

Double dense Nehalems too

By Timothy Prickett Morgan

Posted in Servers, 2nd June 2009 19:24 GMT

Server maker Hewlett-Packard advanced to the pole position in the x64 server race this morning as it launched a slew of new iron, some using Advanced Micro Devices' new six-core "Istanbul" Opterons 2400 and 8400 series processors announced yesterday and others rounding out the new ProLiant and BladeSystem machines that came out concurrent with the four-core "Nehalem EP" Xeon processors at the end of March.

In March, HP rolled out 11 new ProLiant Generation 6 servers sporting the Nehalem EPs, and today, the company is putting another three Nehalem boxes into the field as well as seven machines that support the Istanbuls.

Rather than just plunk the Istanbuls into the existing ProLiant G5 servers, whose chipsets do support the processors, HP has taken the technologies it rolled into the two-socket Nehalem EP machines in the G6 series and created a whole new Opteron lineup. These G6 technologies include dynamic power capping and other ThermalLogic tech that was once only in its BladeSystem blade servers.

Lots of systems sensors to measure performance, heat, and power consumption of server components; high efficiency and common power supplies; 6 GB/sec SAS disk controllers; and the new ProLiant Onboard Administrator, which is the merging of the Integrated Lights Out (iLO) service processor inside blade chassis and rack and tower servers and the Web console that used to be only on blades.

But don't get the wrong idea. The new Opteron-based servers will technically support both quad-core "Shanghai" Opterons, which had their prices cut dramatically on May 25 ahead of the Istanbul launch, as well as the Istanbul chips. And HP will continue to sell ProLiant G5 machines configured with Shanghai processors if that is what customers want.

AMD wants the Opteron processor to span a large range of performance and price points and move across two-socket, four-socket, and larger servers as it tries to take on Intel. With its Nehalem EP processors restricted to uniprocessor and two-socket boxes, AMD will probably have a significant advantage on four-socket and eight-socket servers. Intel's "Dunnington" Xeon 7400s have the advantage beyond this, with a few vendors - IBM, NEC, and Unisys being the key ones - building Xeon boxes that span up to 16 sockets.

Lineup lowdown

The new HP ProLiant G6 servers sporting Istanbul Opterons include four rack and three blades servers:

Double Nehalem Deckers

If you aren't big on the Istanbul Opterons, then perhaps the most interesting box that HP has put into the field - well, three different boxes, really - is the DL1000 series. Taking a page out of the Super Micro playbook, HP's Industry Standard Server division is cramming four Nehalem EP server nodes - side-by-side and double-deckered - into a single 2U server chassis.

John Gromala, director of product marketing for HP's ProLiant server business, says that the DL1000 series will be available worldwide as a standard product. Unlike the custom boxes made by Dell's Data Center Services (DCS) unit (see and here for examples) or IBM's iDataPlex machines (see here for the latest ones). The DL170h G6 server node that slides into the DL1000 chassis. It is a two-socket Xeon 5500 board that supports up to 128 GB of main memory and from one to three PCI-Express slots (depending on the configuration).

If you want lots of peripherals and disks, you just put one DL170h node in the box. Or, if you are willing to sacrifice some but not all I/O and disk, you can put two DL170h nodes side by side. (That's the DL2x170h configuration). And for maximum density, but limited I/O and peripherals, you get the DL4x170h, which stacks four nodes inside the 2U chassis, known as the h1000. The h1000 chassis has room for eight 3.5-inch or sixteen 2.5-inch disk drives that are shared by the boards inside the box (the number is dependent on the number of motherboards inside the chassis). Obviously, the power supplies shared by all the gear in the box has to be properly sized for the number of nodes and disks in the h1000 chassis.

HP is very keen on chasing IBM and Dell in trying to land hyperscale data centers deals, where customers deploy tens to hundreds of thousands of servers. With 672 Nehalem cores and 10 TB of memory per rack, the DL1000 is going to get some tire kicking and probably win some deals too.

With two server nodes, the base DL1000 costs $2,819, and with four server nodes, it costs $4,909.

Given the launch of the Istanbuls this week, you might expect that the DL1000 would have Opteron variants, but Gromala is mum about HP's plans to use Opterons in the product.

Finally, the last new ProLiant today is a tower box, the ML330 G6, which HP says is the first modular tower server. Rather than just create a two-socket tower box, HP broke a Xeon 5500 server in half, putting one socket and its memory on the motherboard and another socket and its memory on a daughter card that plugs into the Intel "Tylersburg" 5520 chipset and creates a normal SMP cluster. If customers know they will never want a second processor, they can buy the ML330 G6 with the Xeon 3500. And if they want to be careful about expansion, they can buy Xeon 5500s, which each have nine memory slots per socket for a maximum of 144 GB of main memory using 8 GB DIMMs.

The server has four PCI-Express 2.0 slots (with an optional two PCI-X slots), plus room for eight 3.5-inch disks and two Gigabit Ethernet ports. In a base configuration with one 2 GHz Xeon E5504 and 2 GB of memory on the main motherboard, plus a 250 GB SATA drive, the ML330 G6 costs $1,315. It costs $649 to add the second E5504 processor card and 2 GB of memory for it. HP is supporting the entry dual-core Xeon 5502 chips all the way up to the 2.4 GHz E5540 processors in the ML330 G6. ®