HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 review

7 Aug 2012

HP’s eighth-generation ProLiant flagship is a superbly designed 2U rack server that’s clever enough to look after itself

Price when reviewed 
7,432
5

HP claims its eighth-generation ProLiant servers are so intelligent they manage themselves. Along with giving administrators more free time, they offer improved I/O, flexible configuration options and, with Intel’s E5-2600 Xeons in the driving seat, much more processing power.

In this exclusive review, we bring you the first look at HP’s flagship ProLiant DL380p Gen8. This 2U rack server introduces the new iLO4 embedded controller, which comes with HP’s Agentless Management, Active Health System (AHS) and Embedded Remote Support features.

These provide enhanced health monitoring, plus power and thermal controls and a smartphone app for remote management. The iLO4 web interface sees a minor redesign, with more information on major components such as storage and RAID.

HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8

AHS monitors more than 1,600 system parameters and stores up to 1GB of diagnostics data, which can be securely downloaded by HP support for faster problem resolution. It links up with HP’s new SmartMemory and SmartDrive devices; if it identifies a problem, it arranges for replacement memory and hard drives to be ordered in advance.

HP’s Intelligent Provisioning means you no longer need to boot the server with a SmartStart DVD to load an OS – it’s been a long time coming; Dell had a similar feature more than three years ago.

Storage capacity is the same as the DL380 G7, with the server supporting up to 16 SFF or eight LLF drives. Our sample came with eight SFF drives, but if you add the second expansion cage you’ll also need an extra RAID PCI Express card. Alternatively, DL380e models focus more on capacity, with 12 LFF or 25 SFF drive bays. Other differences from the DL380p include their 12 DIMM sockets and support for E5-2400 Xeons.

The embedded Smart Array P420i in the DL380p links up with the motherboard’s pair of SAS 2 ports, and offers a good choice of cache memory. We had the full 2GB FBWC (flash-backed write cache) module, which comes with a fast charging capacitor.

HP’s SmartDrive carriers are clever, packed with status LEDs so you know exactly what the drive is up to. A locate LED on each carrier glows blue while the drive is being identified by the host, and flashes when it’s being updated.

HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8

The circular button has a rotating green disk-activity ring, while its multicolour centre LED shows the drive status and warns of impending failures. An LED on the carrier-release button glows white to warn that it must not be removed where, for example, another drive in the same RAID5 array has already failed.

The HP has a tool-free design, and the two PCI risers can be removed with a flick of the wrist. The Smart Socket guide reduces the chances of CPU pin damage during upgrades or maintenance.

The review system came with dual 2GHz E5-2650 Xeons, which have eight cores and a 20MB L3 cache. Dual-CPU systems have six hot-swap fans (see ), and we found the review system to be extremely quiet during testing. It came with two 750W power supplies, but HP also offers 460W or 1,200W options, and they all share a common form factor.

The E5-2650 Xeons have a low TDP of 95W, which helped deliver impressive results in our power tests. With Windows Server 2008 R2 in idle we measured a draw of 109W; under maximum load from the SiSoft Sandra benchmarking app, this peaked at 250W. As a comparison, the Dell PowerEdge R720 had dual 2.7GHz E5-2680 Xeons with a 130W TDP: it drew 120W in idle and 358W under load.

For virtualisation, the server has both internal USB and SD memory card slots. However, Dell comes out top for hypervisor redundancy, as its R720 supports dual internal SD card slots. Network options are improved, as HP’s FlexLOM cards slot in at the back of the server. We had the quad-Gigabit version, but HP also offers a dual-10GbE card or a 10/40Gbits/sec FlexFabric module.

HP has taken much longer than Dell to unveil its E5-2600 Xeon servers, but the wait was worthwhile. Combining excellent design and versatility with the smartest server management features on the market, the ProLiant DL380p Gen8 takes a well-deserved place on the A-List.

Details

Price ex VAT £6,193

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site, 3 yr return to base Next business day

Ratings

Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5

Physical

Server format Rack
Server configuration 2U

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 2.00GHz
Processors supplied 2
CPU socket count 2

Memory

RAM capacity 384GB
Memory type DDR3

Storage

Hard disk configuration 2 x 600GB HP 10k SAS
Total hard disk capacity 1,200GB
RAID module Smart Array P420i
RAID levels supported 0, 1, 10, 5, 50, 6, 60

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 4

Motherboard

Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 6
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0

Power supply

Power supply rating 750W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 109W
Peak power consumption 250W