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HP blade chassis is dense and intense

Tom Henderson | Oct. 14, 2014
If you're looking for the ultimate in computational density, consider the HP C7000 Platinum Blade Server Chassis.

If you're looking for the ultimate in computational density, consider the HP C7000 Platinum Blade Server Chassis. The C7000 packs an enormous amount of power into just 10U of rack space, with modular components that can be almost instantly changed out.

Inside the blade chassis, HP has inserted a mezzanine backplane that moves at 7.1Tbps in aggregate. In turn, HP's FlexFabric connects to backplane components that fan out data in connections of up to 40Gbps per channel, and can be aggregated as control units of four blade servers — conveniently the number that will fit in a 42U rack, provided you've pleased the power company and your data center has the correct load bearing floors.

At $122,000, the unit we tested was a monster, sporting two blades plus the FlexFabric connectivity gear.

One point to keep in mind. Once you go the blade chassis route, you're locked in to HP as your vendor. We could find no one else that sells products for this chassis, so a purchase means a marriage with HP. Of course, the same applies to nearly all blade system designs. HP offers a three-year, across the board warranty once you say the vows.

Testing HP's C7000 blade chassis was an exercise in both server geometries, and also in hunting down strange configuration data. The base software management options to configure the beast that is the C7000 chassis require enormous amounts of sophistication.

Rather then use the default options, we recommend buying the OneView 1.1 management app. In fact, beg for it if you're managing several HP blade server chasses.

We like the C7000 chassis and especially the blades, BL-660 Gen8s with a lot of computational power, but it's the back side of the chassis that packs the most punch with HP's flexible Virtual Connect option.

Network operations center personnel will enjoy the rapid deployment of the hardware, but there were a few things missing in our opinion when we compared standard and optional administration software packages for the chassis. What's there works, and well. What's missing is mildly frustrating.

What We Tested

We tested the C7000 "Platinum Chassis" which, in and of itself, is comparatively inexpensive. The chassis is powered via 208-240v 30amp+ connections, and there are six power supplies; HP sent a Power Distribution Unit (PDU) and we recommend using one for fast power supply change-out should something go awry.

Two full-height HP BL-660 Gen8 blades were fitted to it. The basic blades are not quite $28,000 each (memory not included). Two HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric 20/40Gb F8 modules were installed, each nearly $23,000. Eight full-height blades can be installed, or a combo of 16 half-height blades.


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