Skinny HP Server Outstores Its Competitors

NetServer LP 1000r gains more powerful processors-but not much in overall performance.

Hewlett-Packard Co.s latest ultraslim server, the NetServer LP1000r, packs Intel Corp. 1GHz Pentium III processors into a 1.75-inch form factor along with a large internal storage capacity.

Although eWeek Labs tests show the Web performance gained with the faster processors is not significant, IT managers in space-conscious Web hosting and data center environments will find the LP1000r a solid, inexpensive server for Web applications.

As the replacement for the NetServer LPr server, the LP1000r is the first 1.75-inch server weve seen that is powered by two 1GHz Pentium IIIs. The LP1000r is also the first 1.75-inch server weve seen that has three hot-plug hard drives. When configured with three low-profile (1-inch-high) 36GB hard drives, the LP1000r can provide as much as 109GB of raw storage. This is about 33 percent more internal storage capacity than any other server in its class.

The LP1000r has a lot of competition in the ultraslim server space. IBM also offers 1GHz processors in its xSeries 330 servers. Compaq Computer Corp.s ProLiant DL360 1.75-inch servers ship with up to two 933MHz processors, and the company will announce servers with the 1GHz processors later this quarter.

The LP1000r, which shipped this month, is priced starting at about $3,800, making it a very competitive buy when compared with IBMs xSeries 330 servers, which start at $4,426. The LP1000r is also available with Pentium III 866MHz or 933MHz processors.

The LP1000r configuration we tested is priced at $10,700, has dual 1GHz Pentium IIIs with 256KB of L2 cache, 1GB error-correcting code synchronous dynamic RAM, a low-profile 9GB Ultra3 SCSI hard drive, two built-in 10/100 NICs, a PCI Gigabit Ethernet adapter, and an embedded dual-channel HP NetRAID Ultra3 SCSI controller.

Tests using Ziff Davis Media Inc.s WebBench 3.0, which measures server response time to requests from Web-browsing clients, showed that the Web performance difference between this class of servers with the available processors (866MHz and 1GHz) is minor. IT managers should be aware that buying a server with the most expensive or fastest processors might not provide the performance boost they expect.

In tests that simulate static HTTP contents with 120 Windows NT clients, the LP1000r achieved a solid performance of 6,640 requests per second.

To determine the amount of performance gained with faster processors, we compared the LP1000rs WebBench performance with that of an IBM xSeries 330 server with dual Pentium III 866MHz processors, 1GB of RAM and a Gigabit Ethernet adapter. Using the same test suite and client load, the IBM server processed more than 6,480 requests per second.

Although the LP1000r did not perform significantly better than the server with the slower processors, the lack of performance gain is probably due to the fact that both the 1GHz and 866MHz processors have the same 256KB L2 cache.

We have yet to see an ultraslim server with redundant power supplies and hot-swappable fans, and the LP1000r is no exception.

IT managers should be prepared to invest in extra servers as backups for quick replacements during failures. Fortunately, these servers are fairly inexpensive and easy to install.

The LP1000r lacks some of the useful features found in the xSeries 330, such as the built-in keyboard, video and mouse switch and Light-path Diagnostic capabilities that ease server management.