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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

Moving VMs out of a bad stick or instantly removing it from unused pools could be a healthy way to prevent chassis disasters--especially in a server designed to serve as both a consolidation platform and one for rapid scale-up.

This contrasts with the scale-out thinking of the individual cartridges used in HP's Moonshot. Scale-up mandates a platform that won't topple and kill many consolidated processes, or additive functions.

The problem is that the firmware for Advanced Memory Protection in installed, but it isn't yet supported by vendors like Microsoft or VMware. HP told us: soon.

The chassis layouts permit up to nine PCIe cards. There are six auxiliary power connections, and there's a 12Gbps SAS bus available, hopefully for your new crop of hefty SSD flash drives. The drives go inside of a cage, easily accessible after pulling the chassis out of the rack it's installed in, then popping the lid of this beast. We could put up to 10 Small Form Factor (SFF) drives into the cage.

Intel claims, using this server, a 1.7x performance increase using VMware's VMark 2.5.1 benchmark over a previous generation Xeon processor--specifically the older E2-4870s vs the DL580 Gen8's E2-4890 v2s. The benchmark has only a couple of potential flaws, first the difference in clock speed between the two CPUs, the second is that it's based on Windows 2008R2--an operating system that's arguably eight years old. Nonetheless, a better clock and more cache--multiplied by an insane number of cores per processor is like a lit fuse.

What the platform does have going for it is not only faster CPU clocks, but much larger CPU cache at 37.5Mb, which most every operating system can use. With 3GB of current maximum memory, and an eventual 6TB of main memory, each of the 60CPUs can get a whopping amount of core memory, along with the hedged bet of CPU cache hits to achieve high muscularity in terms of either virtualization performance or as raw computational performance.

Add this to 40GB of Ethernet (at max configuration), 12Mbps SAS SSDs inside or iSCSI/etc., outside, room for PCIe full height/width cards in the chassis, and it looks very good on paper. And it should: $39,000 is the max base configuration before drives and extras. The unit we tested was: $39,046

We installed several operating systems and while Windows 2012/2012 R2 (including Hyper-V V3), Red Hat EL 6.4, and SUSE SLES 11 SP3 can use the Advanced Error Recovery Feature, other hypervisor and OS platforms are said by HP to be nearing availability. We have no good way to induce errors today that can test this feature without possible physical damage to the test server, and so we didn't check this feature.


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