HP Server Has Best Density in Its Class

Rack-mountable DL560 puts four 2GHz Xeon processors into 2U box.

The ProLiant DL560 Generation 1, Hewlett-Packard Co.s latest rack-optimized server, ratchets up the power by supporting four of Intel Corp.s fastest processors, and its compact 2U (3.5-inch) chassis is good news for cramped server cabinets.

The ProLiant DL560 G1, which began shipping earlier this month, is the first server eWeek Labs has seen that puts four Xeon MP CPUs in a 2U rack-mount form factor. Our tests showed the DL560 to be a powerful yet compact system that would make a good fit for storage area network environments, server consolidation projects and midtier application servers.

The well-equipped system we tested costs $28,354 and includes four 2GHz Xeon MP processors with 512KB of Level 2 and 2MB of Level 3 cache; two 36.4GB, 15,000-rpm disk drives; 1GB of double-data-rate error-correcting code synchronous dynamic RAM; and dual embedded copper Gigabit NICs.

Intels top-of-the-line 2GHz Xeon MP processors include the companys HyperThreading technology and integrated Three-Level cache architecture for high-performance server systems. The ProLiant DL560 G1 system also supports 1.5GHz and 1.9GHz Xeon MPs, both of which have 1MB of L3 cache. The ProLiant DL560 will be ready to support future generations of Xeon MP processors with even bigger L3 cache—as much as 4MB—which are expected to ship next year, HP officials said.

The DL560 G1 has six DIMM (dual in-line memory module) slots, allowing it to scale to 12GB of memory using 2GB DIMMs. To provide failover protection, the ProLiant system can run an optional online spare memory configuration with as much as 8GB of active online memory and 4GB of online spare memory.

The ProLiant DL560 comes standard with an embedded HP SmartArray 5i+ RAID controller with 64MB of battery backup cache. The SmartArray controller can support two Ultra3 SCSI disk drives; the system we tested had dual 36.4GB hard drives. The SmartArray does not provide an external SCSI port, so IT managers will have to purchase PCI storage adapters to accommodate external storage.

The system also comes standard with iLO 2.0, HPs latest Integrated Lights Out management processor. An iLO 2.0 Advance Pack is also available for $399 and includes a remote graphics console, remote floppy control and power-down system management. HP will add remote CD-ROM functionality in future versions, officials said.

The ProLiant DL560 competes with rack-optimized servers from heavyweights such as IBM and Dell Computer Corp. The smallest four-way Xeon MP server previously was IBMs xSeries 360, which has a 3U (5.25-inch) chassis. Dells PowerEdge 6650 four-way Xeon MP rack-optimized server stands at 4U (7 inches) high. (See June 3, 2002, review.)

The ProLiant DL560 has a starting price of $7,099, including a single 1.5GHz Xeon MP processor, 512MB of RAM and one 36GB hard drive. The IBM x360 starts at just over $7,000, and the Dell PE6650 has an entry price of $5,500.

The ProLiant DL560 not only has the best density of any four-way Xeon MP server on the market, but it also saves power, consuming only 550 watts in full operation. By comparison, IBMs x360 provides N+1 redundancy with three power supplies but requires a minimum of 740 watts to run at full capacity. Dells PE6650 runs at 900 watts with the same 1+1 redundancy offered by the DL560.

HPs engineers were able to pack four Xeon MP processors into the 2U chassis because of the systems zone-based cooling design, where the CPU/memory and storage/power supplies are placed in different parts of the server and cooled by separate redundant sets of fans. This design allows the ProLiant DL560 to efficiently cool the Xeon processors, even with four chips packed into the chassis. The ProLiant DL560 will be able to support future Intel processor upgrades (which might require extra cooling) without the need to change hardware.

We were impressed by the ProLiants toolless chassis design—almost every internal component is modular and can be easily serviced or replaced. A single lever opens the top cover of the system to provide access to hot-plug fans, memory, PCI slots and the processor housing. The hot-plug redundant power supplies and hard drives can be accessed from the rear and front of the server, respectively.

Changing and upgrading processors is a snap, thanks to the ProLiants easy-to-access CPU housing. A panel containing the floppy and CD-ROM drives can be opened to reveal all four processors.

The easily removable PCI riser cage provides three PCI-X slots (two slots for 100MHz components and one for 133MHz components) for additional Ethernet cards or storage adapters. The handy labels in the rear of the chassis showed the location of these slots, but unlike competing systems such as the Dell PE6650, these PCI slots arent hot-pluggable.

HP has also included an additional rack arm for cable management at the rear of the chassis. The cable management arm will allow administrators to better organize power, Ethernet and KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) cables in a full server rack, but we like IBMs integrated KVM cables better because they reduce the number of cables going to the server.

Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at francis_chu@ziffdavis.com.