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HP Proliant Generation 8 Servers – Potential Disk Gotcha

As far back into the past as most of us can remember, HP has used “Universal” disks so you know that within sensible limits your 3.5” hot plug disks would fit any HP server that had a 3.5” hot plug drive bay, and similarly for the 2.5” spinning platters.

Now with the new Gen8 servers, HP have without much trumpeting of this information introduced a new Smartdrive Carrier that displays lots more information, one piece being the bright white light that means DO NOT REMOVE as the system actually needs this !!

These are not backward compatible with previous generations and the old “Universal” drives cannot be used in the new Gen8s.

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As far back into the past as most of us can remember, HP has used “Universal” disks so you know that within sensible limits your 3.5” hot plug disks would fit any HP server that had a 3.5” hot plug drive bay, and similarly for the 2.5” spinning platters. Now with the new Gen8 servers, […] ...read the full article

HP Memory Configuration Rules for Dual Socket Gen8 Servers

These rules apply to the dual socket ML350, DL360, DL380 and BL460 servers.

The tower and rack models have 12 DIMM slots per processor, in a 4 channel, 3DIMMs per channel configuration. The BL460 blade only has 8 slots per processor with 4 channels and 2 DIMMS per channel, represented by the blue rectangles above.

  • The 8 core processor models support up to 1600MHz memory speed
  • The 6 core processor models support up to 1333MHz memory speed
  • The 4 core processor models support up to 1066MHz memory speed

The off the shelf 4 and 6 core models are supplied with 1333MHz memory, even though the 4 core models don’t support this speed, and the 8 core models are supplied with 1600MHz memory. There are some exceptions to this in the “configure to order” (CTO) models. The rules should be considered as being specific to individual processors.

The DDR3-1333 memory is PC3L-10600R. The DDR3-1600 memory is PC3-12800R. Note the letter L in the 1333 memory – it is low voltage. Memory types cannot be mixed.

You can install memory in the first 8 DIMM slots (blue rectangles above) and not suffer any speed loss.

If you go beyond the first 8 slots the speed of both 1600MHz and 1333MHz memory will drop to 1066MHz.

Memory sizes can be mixed. Best practice states that channel configuration attached to each processor should be identical. DIMMS of different sizes and speeds can be mixed.

Biggest DIMM size is 32GB. Maximum capacity is 24*32=768GB but only 16*32=512GB for the blade.

For best speed use 8 1600MHz DIMMs per processor.

Try to avoid using the third row of DIMMS or your memory speed could drop by 1/3rd. In other words don’t use more than 16 DIMMs.

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These rules apply to the dual socket ML350, DL360, DL380 and BL460 servers. The tower and rack models have 12 DIMM slots per processor, in a 4 channel, 3DIMMs per channel configuration. The BL460 blade only has 8 slots per processor with 4 channels and 2 DIMMS per channel, represented by the blue rectangles above. […] ...read the full article

HP Proliant Generation 8 Servers

HP have recently released their latest generation of the world’s best selling servers. Having corrected most of the errors in the product specifications – some of which were first reported by the eagle-eyed staff at EACS – we now know the fine detail of what these systems do.

The Gen8 release applies to the dual socket models – the DL360 and DL380 rack mount, the BL460 blade and the ML350 tower, the four most popular models in the range. The g7s will continue to be available for some time.

So why would you buy a Gen8 server?

Reason 1 – to save money.

The Gen8 models offer 4, 6 and 8 core processors and all bar the blade model will let you deploy up to 756GB ram, just 512GB in the BL460. Ideal if you have a really demanding application or, much more likely, you are trying to consolidate as many physical servers as possible onto as few hosts as possible for virtualisation purposes. If you had planned to consolidate onto 4 dual socket 6core servers on the old g7 model you can now achieve the consolidation onto 3 dual socket 8core servers with the Gen8s. Apart from saving space and power you will now reduce your costs of Vmware and/or Microsoft per socket licensing by 25% as you will only need 6 licences instead of 8.

Reason 2 – to deliver higher performance.

Apart from offering more than double the memory capacity of their predecessors, the Gen8 models offer 4 channels of memory against only 3 in the g7, so an extra concurrent pathway is provided to the installed memory to boost the performance. The 8core Gen8 offers faster memory too – 1600Mhz against a maximum of 1333Mhz in the g7. The Gen8 has also eliminated the performance hit if you have to use the second memory bank. In the g7, if you fitted 1333MHz ram into memory banks 1 and 2 all the memory dropped down to 1066MHz. This doesn’t happen in the Gen8, so up to 16 DIMM slots can operate at top speed against only 6 in the g7. If you used the third row of dim slots in the g7 all the memory would drop down to 800MHz. Gen8 only drops to 100MHz if you use the third row of DIMMs – slots 17-24.

Reason 3 – improve your management – ILO4.

HP’s Insight Lights Out (ILO) management built into each Proliant has evolved into its 4th generation providing more environmental and power management capabilities and delivering greater remote management capabilities – more details HERE.

Reason 4 – easier to handle, less easy to damage.

The Gen8 is apparently completely tool-less, so you should be able to strip it down and build it back up again without a solitary tool. More useful for the masses is a new design so that you should be able to install an additional processor without bending any of the pins which is an expensive mistake to make.

Reason 5 – improved raid performance and enhance data protection.

The Gen8 has the new Smart Array 420 raid controller which improves throughput on intensive applications, including when used with SSDs. It offers a chargeable option of RAID 1 Advanced Data Mirroring (ADM) – a three way mirroring so you can lose one drive in a RAID 1 or 1+0 configuration and not suffer degradation as the array is being rebuilt. Quite smart if you need this level of protection and want to contribute to the global shortage of disks!

Reason 6 – future-proofing your networking.

The Gen8 offers models with 10GbE (1/10 autosensing) on board so if you have plans to upgrade your networking core to 10Gbe this option is available delivering 1GbE today and 10GbE when you need it. On the BL460 Gen8 blade this is the only standard configuration available.

Why not attend Optimise IT 2012 where you can attend a Breakout Session by HP on this very subject!

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HP have recently released their latest generation of the world’s best selling servers. Having corrected most of the errors in the product specifications – some of which were first reported by the eagle-eyed staff at EACS – we now know the fine detail of what these systems do. The Gen8 release applies to the dual […] ...read the full article

Memory – Beware Trying to Cut Costs

Since circa 2009 the likes of HP and Dell have been shipping servers with Intel Xeon processors which have 9 DIMM slots available per processor. These 9 slots are presented in 3 channels of 3 rows.

When only limited memory was required e.g. 4GB or 6 GB, filling one row with 2GB modules was ideal and presented no problems. However, when more memory is required, as in a typical physical host configuration for a virtualisation deployment, there is a pitfall that many IT managers looking to cut costs have fallen into.

For example if 24GB of memory was required, most would say: “let’s fill the 9 slots with six 2GB DIMMs and three 4GB DIMMS to get to the total as they are cheaper than using larger DIMM modules.”

A configuration of 24GB could be achieved with three 8GB modules just filling one row of DIMM slits. This might cost a little more than the mix of cheaper 2GB and 4GB DIMMs but when we look at the memory configuration rules it may come as a surprise to see that the speed of the memory drops as we fill more rows.

All the DIMMs are rated to operate at 1333MHz. If the DIMMS only fit one row then this is indeed their operating speed. However, if you fit DIMMs into row 2 then the speed of ALL THE MEMORY drops to 1066Mhz. Worse still, if you venture into row 3 the speed of all the DIMMs drops to 800MHz. A similar pitfall exists with AMD processors, this is not just limited to Intel.

If you have opted for the slightly cheaper nine DIMM option instead of using just three larger DIMMs you may have saved a few pounds but have effectively made your memory operate at only 60% of maximum speed. You have effectively cut costs, but can you claim to have achieved good value??

A constant challenge for IT professionals is to look for value and not just look at cost. We see all too often those in IT fall into the low cost trap and end up creating inefficiencies and additional work for themselves, not just with memory but across the board. So beware being seduced by the headline price – look beyond cost and seek value.

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Since circa 2009 the likes of HP and Dell have been shipping servers with Intel Xeon processors which have 9 DIMM slots available per processor. These 9 slots are presented in 3 channels of 3 rows. When only limited memory was required e.g. 4GB or 6 GB, filling one row with 2GB modules was ideal […] ...read the full article