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As we test larger arrays and faster interconnects, we need platforms like the HP DLp to be able to deliver the workload payload required to these arrays and related equipment. Additionally, as PCIe storage matures, the latest application accelerators rely on third-generation PCIe for maximum throughput. If one lane PCIe slot is being shared for three slots, those may under-perform compared to a solution that uses two lane PCIe slots to share between three riser slots.

We also have an eye toward how well manufacturers make use of the cramped real-estate inside 1U and 2U servers, as all are not created equal. Items in this category can vary from everything from cable management to how many features are integrated versus requiring add-on cards, leaving PCIe expansion entirely open to the end-user instead of utilizing those slots for RAID cards or additional LAN NICs.

Our server accepts small form factor SFF 2. HP offers different configuration options, with an optional riser that supports two x16 PCIe 3. The unit can also support up to two W single-width graphics cards in a two processor, two riser configuration with an additional power feed. This layout allows users to manage the DLp, without taking over a port from the other four 1GbE offered on-board.

HP Insight Control provides infrastructure management to deploy, migrate, monitor, remote control, and optimize infrastructure through a single management console. Versions of Insight Control are available for Linux and Windows central management servers. HP iLO management processors virtualize system controls for server setup, health monitoring, power and thermal control, and remote administration. Basic system board management functions, diagnostics, and essential Lights-Out functionality ships standard across all HP ProLiant Gen8 rack, tower and blade servers.

Some of the primary features enabled with advanced iLO functionality include remote console support beyond BIOS access or advanced power monitoring capabilities to see how much power the server is drawing over a given period of time. In our case our system shipped with basic iLO support, which gave us the ability to remotely power on or off the system or provided remote console support which ended as soon as the OS started to boot.

Depending on the installation, many users can probably get by without the advanced features, but when tying the server into large scale-out environments, the advanced iLo featureset can really streamline remote management.

The rail kit system offers tool-free installation for racks with square or round mounting holes and features an adjustment range of inches and quick release levers. Installation into telco racks requires a third-party option kit. The sliding-rack and cable management arm work together, allowing IT to service the DLp by sliding it out of the rack without disconnecting any cables from the server. Buyers opting for a more basic approach can still buy the DLp without rails, or with a basic non-sliding friction mount.

There is space for an optional optical drive at to the left of the hot plug bays. With a quick glance of the status LEDs on the front, users can diagnose server failures or make sure everything is running smoothly. If no failures have occurred, the system health LEDs are green. If a failure has occurred, but a redundant feature has enabled the system to continue running, the LED will be amber. If the failure is critical and causes shutdown, the LED illuminates red.

The level of detail that HP put into the DLp is fairly impressive at times, with items as simple as drive trays getting all the bells and whistles. The drive tray includes rotating disk activity LEDs, indicators to tell you when a drive is powered on, and even when not to eject a drive. At times when it seems that all hard drives or SSDs get simple blinking activity LEDs, HP goes the extra mile to provide users with as much information as they can absorb just by looking at the front of the server.

Connectivity is handled from both the front and rear of the DLp. Internally, HP put substantial effort into making the ProLiant DLp Gen8 easy to service while packing the most features they could into the small 2U form-factor. The first thing buyers will notice is the cabling, or lack thereof, inside the server chassis.

Many of the basic features are routed on the motherboard itself, including what tends to be cluttered power cabling. When it comes time to install new hardware or quickly replace faulty buyers or their IT departments will enjoy the tool-free serviceable sections of the DLp.

HP also includes a full hardware diagram on the inside of the system cover, making it easy to identify components when it comes time to replacing them.

Inside most server chassis, cooling and cable management can go hand in hand. While you can overcome some issues with brute force cooling, a more graceful approach is to remove intrusive cabling that can disrupt proper airflow for efficient and quiet cooling.

HP went to great lengths integrating most cables found in servers, including power cabling, or went with flat cables tucked against one side for data connections. While keeping a server cool is just one task to accomplish inside a server, making sure it works and is easily field-serviceable are two distinct items. All fans on the HP DLp held in with quick-connects, and can be swapped out by removing the top lid in seconds.

On the cooling side of things, the DLp does a great job of providing dedicated airflow for all the components inside the server chassis, including add-on PCIe solutions. Through the BIOS, users can change the amount of cooling needed, including overriding all automatic cooling options to force max airflow if the need arises.

In our testing with PCIe Application Accelerators installed and stressed, stock cooling, or slightly increased cooling was enough to keep everything operating smoothly. HP is making a big push into higher efficiency servers that can be seen across the board with a greater push for lower power-draw components.

Less power is wasted as heat in the AC to DC conversion process, which means that for every watts you send your power supply, 94 watts reaches the server, instead of 75 watts or less with older models. The interior layouts are clean, cabling is tucked away or completely integrated with the motherboard and thoughtfully done and even the PCIe riser boards support the latest generation PCIe storage cards.

From a storage perspective, the latter is certainly key, if an enterprise is going to invest in the latest and greatest storage technology, the server better support the expected throughput. While this first part of our HP ProLiant DLp review gives a comprehensive overview of the system itself, part two will incorporate performance and compatibility testing with a wide array of storage products.

Stay tuned for our second review installment that will cover these storage concerns and other key areas such as multi-OS performance variability.

Discuss This Review. Inside the StorageReview Lab evaluating products and working with industry leaders to develop new testing environments. At home I'm raising a family. Enterprise Server. Cooling Inside most server chassis, cooling and cable management can go hand in hand. Power Efficiency HP is making a big push into higher efficiency servers that can be seen across the board with a greater push for lower power-draw components. Kevin OBrien Inside the StorageReview Lab evaluating products and working with industry leaders to develop new testing environments.

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HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 Server Review






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