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HP ProLiant Server Buying Guide

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted May 25, 2012


The HP ProLiant server line is the company's x86 mainstay, and it has dominated that area of the server landscape for many years. Generation eight debuts as a major makeover for the family of servers.

"There is more than window dressing behind HP's new systems and platform, as they have built a lot of intelligence and automation into the new Proliant line with the goal of increasing uptime while reducing the management/administration workload," says Dan Olds, an analyst for Gabriel Consulting Group (GCG).

He indicates there's quite a bit of HP secret sauce in these systems, starting with their iLO (Integrated Lights Out) mechanism that analyzes more than 1,500 server health data points. HP ProLiant Servers Using this information, the server can alert admins before a component fails, monitor and optimize power usage and perform a wide variety of other functions without operator intervention.

"This is a real time saver on the admin side and gives HP a solid foundation they can use to build in more features/functions over time," says Olds.

ProLiant Model Specs

There are a lot of new models to get through, so enough of the preamble. Here is what's available in HP's eighth generation of ProLiants.

  • HP ProLiant BL460c Gen8

    With a base price of $3,509, the BL460c is the world's best-selling server blade. It utilizes 1 or 2 Intel Xeon E5-2600 series (2, 4, 6 or 8 cores), 16GB to 512GB RAM, and up to 2 drive bases for SAS, SATA and/or SSD.

  • HP ProLiant DL360p Gen8

    The DL360p is a 1U rack server using 1 or 2 Xeon E5-2600 series processors, from 4GB to 768GB memory, and up to eight drive bays. The base price for the DL360p is $2,948.

  • HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8

    The DL380p is another one or two processor model (Xeon E5-2600 series), with 16GB to 768GB RAM, and up to 16 drive bays, with a base price of $2,799.

  • HP ProLiant DL160 Gen8

    The DL160 is a dual-socket 1U rack server with one or two Xeon E5-2600 series processors, 4GB to 384GB memory and up to four drive slots. Base price is $1,769.

  • HP ProLiant ML350p Gen8

    The ML350p Gen8 is well suited for remote and branch offices. It has one or two Xeon E5-2600 series processors, 4GB to 384GB memory, and up to 24 drive bays. The base price is $1,879.

  • HP ProLiant SL230s Gen8

    The SL line is intended for high performance computing (HPC) environments, and harnesses one or two Xeon E5-2600 series processors, 8GB to 512GB of RAM, and supports up to 4 hard drives. The base price is $5,789.

  • HP ProLiant SL250s Gen8

    The SL250s supports up to 12 GPUs in a 4U form factor, and comes with 8GB to 512GB of RAM as well as up to eight hard drives. The starting price is $5,659.

"HP ProLiant Gen8 servers utilize extensive automation technologies across IT equipment in order to eliminate manual tasks and improve client experiences around data center operations," says Dave Peterson, Group Manager, Platform Product Marketing, Industry Standard Servers and Software at HP

He gives the example of a 10,000 square foot data center. In such an environment, Gen8 is touted as tripling administrator productivity by eliminating server updates and other tasks. The HP Smart Update feature performs the updates in 10 minutes or less, a process that would take at least 5 hours manually.

The 3D Sea of Sensors technology automatically collects and displays location, power, workload and temperature data. This is said to deliver 70% more compute per watt for a given server configuration than the previous replacement cycle generation. This enables Gen8 to analyze its own health across 1,600 data points.

So which are best servers for specific use cases? In general, Peterson says that HP ProLiant ML (tower) servers are the best choices for small, remote or branch office environments, while ProLiant DL (rack) servers fit better in data centers.

"HP ProLiant BL (blade) servers are also ideal for data centers and use with external storage, and offer maximum computing power in space, power and cooling saving designs," says Peterson. "HP SL (scale out) servers, on the other hand, are targeted at HPC and other massively scaled environments."

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in all aspects of technology, engineering and renewable energy. Born and raised in Scotland, he received a degree in Geology/Geography from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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