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HP's giant Proliant challenges big iron from IBM, Oracle

Tom Henderson | July 1, 2014
HP's new Proliant challenges big iron from IBM and Oracle with 60-core, 4U, high-performance hardware

A breathless deliveryman, having lugged a huge box from HP up the stairs to our lab, asked us, what the hell's in here? A server, we told him. A really large one. He nodded, panting, and having his signed bill of lading, left.

HP hadn't told us exactly which server they were sending, noting that it's new, and hasn't been reviewed anywhere before. We didn't even know the model number.

Inside the massive box was a 4U server marked: Hewlett-Packard DL580 G8. It weighs just over 100 pounds in the configuration that HP sent us. It was crammed to the gills, but also had room inside. The server sounded like a WhisperJet gone wrong when we powered it up. There's a good reason: the fans have to cool 60 x64 cores on four massive processors. Sixty!!!

The DL580 Gen8 is HP's most powerful server in the Proliant line. HP says that it's designed specifically to take on IBM server iron (specifically the IBM Power 750), and one of the biggest beasts from Oracle's Sun server line (the T5-4).

What you get
Two slightly different tiers of the DL580 G8 are offered — basic and high performance. With basic, you get two processors, Intel EZ-4809 V2s at 1.9Ghz clock, which means a dozen cores. HP Insight Control server management software is not included in the basic tier, but twin 1200w power supplies are part of the package.

The high performance selection boosts capacity to four processors, Intel Xeon 4850 V2s (48 cores), or 4890 V2s (60 cores) clocked at 2.3 or 2.9Ghz respectively. Increased clock speed also means increased requirements for heat dissipation, and the faster you go, the more power your server will consume.

Insight Control is bundled with the high performance tier. The power supply count doubles to four, and they're 1500w/ each—and in either chassis, they're universal rather than left or right-side.

In either case, the combinations of processors and cores/processor can be handily and specifically ordered to match the requirements of specific hypervisor companies.

Importantly, the high performance tier now also includes two or four 10Gigabit Ethernet ports, using SFP+ connectors. By contrast, the basic tier has four Gigabit Ethernet ports. We were supplied with HP's four 10G Ethernet ports in the same space that the SFP+ connectors usually are mounted. Both chassis also have a Gigabit Ethernet iLO port.

There is massive room inside, chassis-dependent, for PCIe V3 slots, which can run at a stunning 15Ghz+. Five 16 lane/fast slots, and four 8 lane/half-that-speed slots are included. Into these slots can go anything from InfiniBand cards to additional SAS or General Purpose Graphics Processing Units (GPGPU), or other SAN target Host Bus Adapters (HBA).


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