HP DL38p Gen8 Gains High Marks for Clear, Tool-Less Hardware Details

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2012-05-29

HP DL380p Gen8 Server Piles on Performance, System Monitoring Tools

The dual-processor Hewlett-Packard DL380p Gen8 data center rack mount server successfully marries extensive performance and capacity increases with simplified field serviceability. In an era when workload virtualization seeks to minimize hardware concerns, eWEEK Labs tests showed that IT managers still have important hardware choices and that the HP DL380p Gen8 should be at the top of any evaluation for new data center infrastructure.

Many of the performance increases now available in the HP DL380p Gen8 come from Intel€™s March release of the Xeon E5-2600 processors and the C6xx chip set family. IT managers have competitive choices, including the Dell R720 and the IBM System x3650 M4, both of which use the E5-2600 family processors.

To see images of the HP DL380p Gen8 in action, click here

The 2 HU (height unit) HP DL380p Gen8 became available April 9. Preconfigured DL380p Gen8 models start at $2,829 while configurable models start at $2,572. eWEEK Labs tested a high-performance model with a list price of $10,759. My test unit was an upgraded configuration with the 2x10GbE FlexibleLOM (LAN on motherboard) installed. As tested, my system was priced at $15,965, which is competitive with other offerings. The €œp€ in DL380p stands for €œperformance€ and designates models that also include HP Insight Control integrated management.

Under the Hood

By the numbers, the HP DL380p Gen8 is significantly more powerful than the previous generation and is comparable to competitive systems using the same Intel chipset. The HP DL380p Gen8 now has 24 dual-in-line memory module (DIMM) slots and a maximum memory capacity of 768GB of RAM, which is more than double the seventh-generation DL380.

New in the HP DL380p Gen8 is a better way to handle the LAN on motherboard with the introduction of FlexLOM modules. For example, I replaced the 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) network adapter with a four-port Broadcom 1GbE network adapter module in under two minutes without reading any instructions, except those stenciled on the appropriate internal components. The ability to swap network adapters means that IT managers aren€™t stuck with a built-in network adapter. HP expects swappable network interface card (NIC) modules from Intel, Mellanox and other suppliers in the near future, giving IT managers networking choices without having to burn a PCIe slot.

HP DL38p Gen8 Gains High Marks for Clear, Tool-Less Hardware Details

Physical hardware should be judged, in part, by the design details directly related to field configurability and service. The HP DL380p Gen8 gained high marks in this area for clear, tool-less hardware details that make it simple to add to any data center operations workflow. The easy-to-use rail kit (one of the first I€™ve used that didn€™t result in a cut or nick as I was installing it in the eWEEK Labs test rack), quick-access top lid and clearly marked internal components should reduce time and error in field-service operations.

Other internal changes that make the HP DL380p Gen8 easy to slot into the data center include a clear cooling cowl that made it easy for me to see where memory was installed and extensive use of internal cable guides to keep cooling channels clear while also making component changes easier by keeping cables out of the way. The HP DL380p Gen8 is available with up to 94 percent efficient power supplies.


The HP Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) Management Engine is HP€™s embedded server management toolset and is similar to the Dell Remote Access Controller (DRAC) or IBM€™s Remote Supervisor Adapter.

I used the newly enhanced iLO Management Engine (think iLO 4) to keep careful tabs on the operational characteristics of my test system. While the HP €œsea of sensors€ that track nearly every physical component that spins or gets hot isn€™t new, iLO now tracks metrics from the moment power is supplied to the system, even during the pre-boot period.

To further ease the installation and maintenance process, every ProLiant server, including my test HP DL380p Gen8, includes a NAND flash drive inside the server. Rather than shipping deployment and management tools on CDs or DVDs, these necessary software components are now supplied on the flash assembly inside the chassis. Including a flash drive inside data center servers isn€™t entirely new. But in Gen8 servers and in my test HP DL380p system, the inclusion of all necessary management and diagnostics tools was a big improvement over previous versions of the DL380.

HP Intelligent Provisioning, HP Agentless Management, RAID configuration and diagnostics, HP Active Health System and HP Insight Control, among other utilities, were all available to me without having to hunt around for disks (or, for that matter, an external optical disk drive to make the utilities available).

Of special interest in the HP DL380p Gen8 is the new HP Active Health System (AHS.) The AHS monitored all significant configuration and operational events from the time I first applied power to the HP DL380p Gen8 system. While I didn€™t have any cause to use the data€”which is essentially similar to a flight data recorder€”the AHS will clearly make system troubleshooting significantly easier.

As expected, the HP DL380p Gen8 fit right into my VMware vSphere 5.0 test environment and worked reliably in my test environment.


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