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LoneWolf

ProLiant ML10 v2, ML310 Gen8 v2, ML30 - which is right for you?

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LoneWolf

One other note:

 

HP's ML30 QuickSpecs have this interesting fact:

 

NOTE: B140i can't mix with any standup internal controller

 

This likely means that using a card-based HP SmartArray controller will disable the B140i.  It's unclear if this affects LSI or other aftermarket controllers.

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LoneWolf

Note:  (By "officially supported" this means that HP lists the parts in their QuickSpecs, and will provide support to these parts as part of a warranteed server configuration.  It also may mean in some cases that these parts may be able to report to and/or be monitored by the HP iLO onboard management.  Other parts may work, despite not being part of an officially supported configuration, but you may receive no assistance from HP if you encounter an issue, and may not integrate with HP iLO).

 

Other notes.  Officially supported RAID controller cards:

 

Proliant ML30 Gen9 - Official support for the HP Smart Array P440 (two internal SAS SFF8087 ports), HP Smart Array P441 (two external SAS SFF8088 ports).  The P440 comes in two part numbers: 820834-B21 with 2GB cache, and 726821-B21 with 4GB cache.  HP documentation states that these three controllers require the addition of one Megacell battery and holder.

 

Proliant ML310 Gen8 v2 - Supports the familiar HP Smart Array P222 (one internal SAS, one external) and HP Smart Array P420 (two internal SAS).  These controllers use either 512MB, 1GB, or 2GB of flash-backed write cache, which uses a super-capacitor and cable.

 

Proliant ML10 v2 - Supports the H220 Host Bus Adapter and H221 PCIe 3.0 SAS Host Bus Adapter.  Note that these are limited in function, and do not have the RAID capabilities of the hardware controllers of the ML30 and ML310e.  While not officially supported, it is likely the controllers supported by the Proliant ML310 Gen8 v2 will work in an iLO-supported fashion.

 

Officially supported network cards:

 

Proliant ML30 - Supports the HP 332T (Broadcom 2-port PCIe) Gigabit NIC, the HP 361T (Intel 2-port PCIe) Gigabit NIC, and the HP 331T (Broadcom 4-port PCIe) Gigabit NIC.  There is support for multiple 10-gigabit NICs as well, but somehow I doubt most of you have 10 gigabit links in your house (Even HSS-Dave ;) ) and for now, they are beyond the scope of this FAQ.

 

Proliant ML310e Gen8 v2 - Supports the above listed cards AND the HP NC365T (Intel 4-port PCIe) Gigabit NIC. Several 10-gigabit NICs are supported as well.

 

Proliant ML10 v2 - Supports the same adapters as the Proliant ML30.  No 10-gigabit NICs are officially supported.

 

While there are other accessories on the supported list, most aren't going to be Home Server Show type gear.  The graphics and computational accelerators expensive, and aren't intended for gaming.  HP does list tape drives and storage, but I believe most of us will choose our own path via a third-party NAS, third-party hard drives, and probably nothing in the tape drive market. 

 

You can purchase HP Care Pack extended warranty services for all three servers.  With HP's new policy, firmware updates (unless they are security-oriented) are only available for a system under warranty coverage.  These services may be useful for the ML30 and ML 10 v2 as they are newer, and under more active software development.  They are less useful for the ML310e, as HP has cut back on firmware development, with the system design having been out longer, and supported RAID controllers have fairly mature firmware at this time.

 

You can purchase an iLO Advanced key for any of these three servers.  This adds some significant features to the HP iLO management package, including IP-KVM (the ability to control your server remotely from any state, including entering BIOS setup) through Java or .NET applet in a web browser, remote mounting of ISO media , shared network drive, or local USB drive through that KVM (Install an operating system or update your Intelligent Provisioning, run a Proliant Service Pack, etc. from another computer), and monitoring functions.  Note that the ML310e and ML10 v2 having the earlier iLO4 have been verified to actually use iLO2 and iLO 3 license keys to activate, and these can often be found aftermarket very reasonably.  I do not know if the ML30's newer iLO4 2.3 allows this; someone with an ML30 will need to confirm.  I can attest that iLO Advanced is probably the most significant reason to choose HP over another brand of server in this price range; management features on Lenovo and Dell servers within this price range are basic Intel AMT which while useful, doesn't match up.

Edited by LoneWolf
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nrf

so lots of details of differences, any summary/thoughts on when one would be preferable to another?

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Trig0r

Depends on the end user I would of thought, my Gen8 Microserver was a perfect replacement for my Gen7 but now I find as I'm running more VM's I need more RAM, despite the Gen8 still being good enough in all other departments (since fitting a SDM3)...

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LoneWolf

so lots of details of differences, any summary/thoughts on when one would be preferable to another?

 

It is based both on convenience, and needs.

 

The ML310e and ML30 are far more convenient in mounting drives.  The bay in these matches what you'd expect to see in an enterprise server, with a backplane.

 

If you need maximum RAM for multiple roles, the ML30 is totally for you, going to 64GB.  Note that finding 16GB DDR4 ECC modules is still a bit difficult; many vendors are carrying 4GB and 8GB modules, but not 16GB, which is what you want.

 

If you already have a Microserver Gen8 and are hoping to make a move that allows migration of some of the fiddly bits and toys you added to it, the ML310e is the sweet spot, but the ML10 v2 will likely handle a lot of your add-ons as well, even if they aren't officially supported, because the ML10 v2 is basically a stripped-down ML310e.  Examples of things you might want to migrate would be an HP Smart Array controller, or (in some cases, this may or may not work) RAM memory, or hard drives you had in a RAID on the B120i Dynamic Smart Array controller, because you're transitioning to the same generation platform and there are a number of similarities.

 

If you like being able to use used parts to do your upgrade to maximize your price/performance, once again, the ML310e and ML10 v2 are your choices.  It is much easier to find used Xeon E3 v3 series CPUs and P222/P420 Smart Array controllers.  With the ML30, you are very likely going to be buying all-new parts; there are no off-lease systems, etc. to pull a P440 Smart Array controller from, or an E3 v5 series Xeon, they're nearly brand new.

 

If money is not the deciding factor, you should go the ML30.  DDR4 memory is the way of the future, it has an updated version of the iLO 4, it has an updated version of Intelligent Provisioning, and supports HP's newest generation of RAID controllers, plus it features the new B140i Dynamic Smart Array controller if you aren't going hardware RAID.  The Smart Buy config is around $650USD from a big seller like Provantage.

 

If you want champagne on a beer budget, the ML310e Gen8 v2 is a great buy at this point.  It's currently around $460 at Provantage (I keep citing them because they're among the least expensive prices I've found, beating NewEgg and Amazon at this time, and they're a decent-sized VAR), and accessories such as RAM, RAID controller, etc. run 10% or more less, or you can find used-pull parts to build up your system.  This was my choice, because I already have a P222 RAID controller, and 32GB is enough for my needs.  I would have loved the ML30, but it would have set me back another $200 for the system, then another $30-40 for DDR4 instead of 3, and I'd have had to buy a brand new RAID card and a brand new CPU if I wanted to upgrade.  I'd have not done the CPU upgrade I'm doing with the 310e for sure and would have been on a really tight budget buying a new RAID card.  I also was fortunate to find an open-box unit and save another $45, and the unit arrived in perfect shape.

 

If you're the type who says "I'm going to build my server and storage is going to stay set at what I stick in when I first put it together", or "My budget is tight, and I have to balance my needs vs my wants" then the ML10 v2 is still a good choice.  The drive cage doesn't have a backplane or vibration dampening, but with WD Reds that's not going to be a huge issue.  You can still get a Xeon E3 v3 processor, and it's the same one as the ML310e in both Smart Buy configurations --and if you're not doing any virtual machines, just one physical server, you can scale down to the Core i3 and you'll be fine.  As someone noted, the Core i3 version was on Shell Shocker at NewEgg for $189 this past week, and the Smart Buy Xeon config was $329 on special.  At that $200 mark, maybe that's the savings you need to get that extra amount of RAM, or pull the Core i3 right away and get a Core i7 Xeon E3 equivalent, that you want.

 

Finally, if you're a Microserver Gen8 user who doesn't need more than 16GB of RAM --ask yourself if you need to upgrade at all.  The Microserver Gen8 is still an amazingly engineered box, and once the CPU is upgraded, I think its only real weaknesses are that it can't do more than 16GB of RAM, and that once you've added a hardware RAID card, you have no other slots for, say, a dual or quad-port NIC.  Once again, these are features that are useful for people who want to run some virtual machines either to play with, or perform tasks.  Good examples might be if you want to run a low-end Linux VM to serve as a controller for Ubiquiti Unifi access points.  Or maybe you want to run a Plex server separate from your main server.  Or you want a VM solely for home automation.  Maybe you want to test Server 2016 Technical Preview 4, Windows 10 Insider builds, etc. and you don't want your primary system to be a beta box.  At those points, you are likely to want to upgrade beyond 16GB of RAM; you'll need to ask, based on your budget, whether 32GB is enough or you need 64GB, and what other parts you want to put in.  I'd say at 16GB, you can support one or two VMs if they're light duty and you have the right CPU.  If you want best-performance though, you probably want more RAM than the Microserver may provide.

 

Note that some of that decision in a VM environment may depend on what hypervisor you're using too.  With VMWare, the hypervisor is bare-metal, with fairly low overhead.  Hyper-V uses a bit more resources but is efficient if you're using the Core (free hypervisor).  Hyper-V as a role on a GUI-based Windows server uses more resources, but may be the most comfortable choice for novices.  While I've played with Citrix XenServer, I found it had some of the great management features like VMWare, but didn't seem to perform quite as well as VMWare or HyperV, but that may have changed, and it's completely open-source.

Edited by LoneWolf

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H00GiE

(1) Note:  (By "officially supported" this means that HP lists the parts in their QuickSpecs, and will provide support to these parts as part of a warranteed server configuration.  It also may mean in some cases that these parts may be able to report to and/or be monitored by the HP iLO onboard management.  Other parts may work, despite not being part of an officially supported configuration, but you may receive no assistance from HP if you encounter an issue, and may not integrate with HP iLO).

 

 

 

(2)...newer iLO4 2.3 allows this...

(1) Apart from (fancy) reporting in ILO and support from HP is there any reason NOT to use 3rd party hardware in a proliant server?

I can understand HP endorses their own products for economic reasons, but i'd like to use more affordable 3rd party alternatives.

 

(2) by 2.3 you mean the firmware version? (i'm assuming they not use different ILO4 chips on different models/servers, given the difference beeing that G6 servers have ILO2 chips and G8 uses ILO4)

The latest version of ILO4 is 2.4 and cheap ILO keys bought from ebay (assumed they are the older licences you are talking about) work fine, even when activating after upgrade to v2.4

PS. ILO4 v2.4 is quite the update, it's has the new HPE style design, all functions are easy accessible and well-arranged. There's a topic on Microserver gen8 forum about it.

 

 

 

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nrf

thanks for that rather long answer, I actually am able to make sense of it. how is it that a 'smart' raid card is not considered hardware raid? are you 'locked in' to the vendor if you use a raid card as in your drives are 'customized' to that card for eternity (or until you do a full restore from backup)?

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LoneWolf

(1) Apart from (fancy) reporting in ILO and support from HP is there any reason NOT to use 3rd party hardware in a proliant server?

I can understand HP endorses their own products for economic reasons, but i'd like to use more affordable 3rd party alternatives.

 

(2) by 2.3 you mean the firmware version? (i'm assuming they not use different ILO4 chips on different models/servers, given the difference beeing that G6 servers have ILO2 chips and G8 uses ILO4)

The latest version of ILO4 is 2.4 and cheap ILO keys bought from ebay (assumed they are the older licences you are talking about) work fine, even when activating after upgrade to v2.4

PS. ILO4 v2.4 is quite the update, it's has the new HPE style design, all functions are easy accessible and well-arranged. There's a topic on Microserver gen8 forum about it.

 

 

 

 

1.  Mostly no, however, note that if the iLO recognizes hardware like a RAID card, it may be able to adapt fan speeds to temperature better.  This was well known with the Microserver Gen8 for example; using RAID controllers not recognized by the iLO in some cases could cause higher fan speeds, and therefore, more noise. EDIT: See my final note to nrf below.

 

2.  HP mentions the iLO on the Microserver ML30 as being "iLO 4 2.3" whereas all previous servers are called "iLO 4".  You could be right that they are referring to firmware.  It is also possible that the Gen9 servers have a slightly improved iLO with additional extensions not previously available.  Having not played with the ML30, I'll direct those questions to Joe_Miner.  I've read just a little bit about 2.4 but haven't played with it yet.

 

thanks for that rather long answer, I actually am able to make sense of it. how is it that a 'smart' raid card is not considered hardware raid? are you 'locked in' to the vendor if you use a raid card as in your drives are 'customized' to that card for eternity (or until you do a full restore from backup)?

 

Sorry for being very long; I'd rather be detailed (and sadly, long-winded) than not provide enough information, and being analytical is sometimes a strength, sometimes a weakness with me.

 

HP's Dynamic Smart Array controllers are like a slightly smarter version of Intel's Rapid Storage Technology (RST) RAID you'd find on desktops.  This is why most of them (apart from the new B140i) can't handle RAID-5 (striping with parity, and why the B140i can't handle RAID-6 (striping with double parity) or RAID 50/60.

 

Three factors go into a hardware RAID controller.  The first is being able to do hardware parity calculations.  In a RAID-5 array, you lose one disk's worth of space (requiring a minimum three disks) due to a "parity bit" being written for each two data bits.  Calculating parity is a costly mathematical equation using what's called an  XOR (exclusive OR) operation, for more information, see http://www.raid-recovery-guide.com/raid5-parity.aspx.  Regular x86 or x86-64 processors are not suited to this, and soft-RAID chips like the B120i do not have what  hardware RAID controllers do -a hardware XOR unit that does these calculations, without which, a RAID-5 will be extremely slow (see the Dell PERC H310 controller issues on the web as a great example of this, I've dealt with my share).  RAID-6 is even harder, because it requires a double-parity calculation; you lose two disks (requiring a minimum of four); without a good hardware RAID controller, you'd bring a system to its knees due to poor I/O --this is extremely noticeable for systems running databases, or multiple virtual machines.

 

The second factor that goes into a good hardware RAID controller is caching.  In order to ensure that a RAID array doesn't penalize a system performance, RAID controllers have a memory cache using some form of RAM.  Today's modern caches range from 128MB up to 4GB of memory, and can be used as both a read-ahead cache, and a write cache.  Few software RAID controllers have any form of caching; HP has had occasional exceptions by offering an optional cache to the Dynamic Smart Array on some servers.

 

The third and final feature that hardware RAID controllers have (either as an option or standard) is a form of battery backup.  If a system locks up, crashes, or loses power during a disk write, the entire RAID array could potentially be corrupted.  Having a battery or a super-capacitor means that the data in the cache of the RAID controller can be held for anywhere from a day to (in the case of HP's super-caps and flash-backed write cache) potentially years, so when the system is next powered-on,the controller can finish the data write and ensure the RAID array stays intact.

 

Yes, you are usually locked in to a vendor when you choose a RAID card, or possibly a chipset manufacturer.  HP's current RAID controller generations have generally used PMC-Sierra chipsets (note that Adaptec is nowadays "Adaptec by PMC").  Dell and Lenovo generally use Avago-LSI chipsets; some of these controllers can actually be flashed back and forth between an OEM LSI controller and a Dell PERC/Lenovo ThinkRAID controller if you know which design is which.  If you use an HP controller, you can generally migrate your RAID array from an older one to a newer one with no data loss.  The same is true of Dell, and of Lenovo, or of Adaptec or LSI.  This is because RAID is by nature proprietary, and each vendor's chipset accomplishes what it does in a different way.

 

None of this is really what I would call "bad" --doing RAID right offers both increases in system uptime, and increases in performance.  Note that RAID is NOT (can't state this enough) a substitute for backup.  Delete a file on an array, and it's gone across all member sets.  Corrupt one, the same.  But it is awfully nice being able to replace a disk when one fails, and have your RAID rebuild and restore without backup - and hardware RAID controllers are MUCH faster at rebuilding as well.

 

H00GiE, this does bring up one other great note about integrating a supported HP RAID controller with iLO --you can potentially set up iLO or HP Insight to e-mail you if a RAID failure is detected.  I haven't set this up on my system, so I can't fully describe the process, but this can be a great thing if you aren't looking at your server constantly.  You won't get that with an unsupported controller; instead you would need to set up Windows Server to e-mail you upon certain Event Log errors, or try to do so another way if that's not your primary operating system.

Edited by LoneWolf
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