HP Gen9 Servers are Ready for the SDDC

The HP Gen9 rackmount, tower and blade servers allow customers to take their hypervisor compute density to the next level. HP Gen9 servers have been generally available since September 8, 2014. Along with many other vendors like VMware and Cisco, HP is marketing of their new Gen9 server by leveraging the SDDC movement, hype and jargon (Software Defined Data Center).

 

 

 

This post describes what I thought were the most interesting differences when comparing the common knowledge of DL380p Gen8 with the updates in the DL380 Gen9.

HP Gen9 vs Gen8 Comparison (DL380)

Compute

The Gen9 allows for use of the Intel E5-2600 v3 model upgraded from v2 in the Gen8. The best available CPU in a Gen9 has 18 CPU cores per socket vs 12 on Gen8. The maximum capacity of RAM is the same at 768GB, but RAM is 60% faster speed thanks to DDR4 (2133 MHz in Gen9 vs 1333 MHz in Gen8).

Network

(4) onboard 1-Gig NICs come standard on all models. The FlexibleLOM module is a separate card that is interchangeable. Therefore, you could have (8) 1-Gig NICs without using any PCIe slots.

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Storage

The HP Gen9 comes with 8 SFF (small form factor, 2.5") drive bays standard and can be upgraded in the field to use 16 SFF bays or 24 SFF bays. In contrast, the 25-bay Gen8 model was a custom build and not field upgradable. This provides more flexibility for expansion as customers may migrate to SDDC solutions like VMware VSAN over the next 5 to 7 years.

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There is 1 internal SD card slot (same as Gen8). In contrast, Dell allows for mirrored internal SD cards. Note that if an SD card fails when running ESXi, the host stays online as normal and just can't read the SD card when rebooting. HP probably thought this wasn't a big deal. The HP Gen9 includes 2 SFF drive slots in the back (or 3 LFF). Example Configuration: 24 drives could be used in the front for VMWare datastores, the 2 rear slots could be used for SSDs for caching and the SD card could be used for booting ESXi for maximum storage density. Below is an image of the 26-drive configuration from the quickspecs: 10 12 2014 10 15 18 AM 300x127

6 TB LFF drives (large form factor, 3.5", 761477-B21) are supported with either 4, 8 or 12 LFF configurations. In contrast to SFF drives, it is not possible to upgrade from using 4 LFF to 12 LFF in the field. On a side note, use RAID6 for large capacity 7.2K drives since a rebuild after a disk failure can take 1 to 2 days (15 to 30 seconds per GB). (12) 6 TB disks in RAID6 would provide loosely 56 TB of usable (slow) capacity. HP warranties all 7.2K disks for only 1 year vs 3 years for 10K, 15K or SSD drives. This gives you an idea of failure rates which gives even more reason to use RAID6. For giggles, below is a diagram of how Raid 6 handles dual-parity so it can afford 2 disk failures:

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1.2 TB 10K SFF drives remain the largest capacity of 10K drives (718162-B21) For storage controllers, if you are using typical local storage, you will need the "Smart Array" hardware included in your build. If using VSAN or other SDDC-type storage, you can save costs by using the "Smart Host Bus Adapter" which removes many features which are covered by the VSAN such as cache. HP Storage Controller FAQ. The HP Gen9 includes an SSD write caching feature called HP SmartCache for an additional cost (P/N: D7S26).

You would need at least (2) SSDs in RAID 1 to provide write caching (aka Write-Back). If you need only read caching you can use (1) SSD drive (aka Write-Through) which was also available in Gen8. Use Mainstream Endurance SSDs for the best balance of durability and cost. The Gen9 has a max of 4GB of FBWC (Flash Backed Write Cache) on the Smart Array controllers which is double the max of 2GB FBWC with Gen8. In conclusion, EQ is looking forward to leveraging the increased density and flexibility of the HP Gen9 servers. This will allow Chicagoland HP shops to more effectively support their workloads and reduce overall datacenter costs. Have a question for Todd? Email us at .

Author: Todd Bey

References

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