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LoneWolf

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

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nrf    94
nrf

wow! I am getting an education today! thanks, professor!

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GotNoTime    219
GotNoTime

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.

The iLO4 controller is the same and uses exactly the same firmware. The only thing that differs between the various iLO4 implementation is whether it has a dedicated network port and how much NAND flash it has for storage of tools like IP and iLO data like the logs. AFAIK, all of the recent Proliants have had 4GB NAND flash integrated onto the motherboard as standard.

 

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.

The HP DSA controllers are just regular SATA controllers with a HP firmware and driver. The B120i is actually the Intel SATA controller in the C204 chipset and the B140i is actually the Intel SATA controller in the C224 chipset. There isn't any technical reason that they don't support RAID-5/6 beyond it eating up some CPU time.

 

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 HP DSA controllers support read/write caching in system RAM. The optional addon card is FBWC which you've already mentioned. It requires a special slot on the motherboard which isn't present in a Gen8 Microserver even though it uses the B120i controller.

 

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.

I wouldn't recommend cross flashing PERC cards. There have been reports of odd behaviour due to Dell modifications to the firmware bootblock which can't be changed.

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LoneWolf    156
LoneWolf

I'm not saying I'd recommend it. Just that it's known it can be done in some cases.

 

I'd normally recommend either the OEM LSI, or finding a model on the supported list for your given model of server unless you totally know what you're doing, or are okay with the law of unintended consequences.

Edited by LoneWolf

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H00GiE    9
H00GiE

I have a original (Avago-)LSI Megaraid (with the cachecade fob installed) so luckily no crossflashing for me, it has 512MB cache + any number of SSDs connected as HOT cache, I know the P420i and above smart array can do this too.

It's called Cachecade on LSI and SmartCache on HP.

I have to say having "hot" data cached on a raid 1 SSD array makes any VDI operation smooth. I love it.
ESXi 100% supports it, and does the reporting via a VIB i had to install, which surprisingly works almost the same as the ILO reporting.

Reason for bringing this up is quite simple: the ML10 v2 can be considered a budget machine but once you get the hang of the server and WANT to upgrade there's a whole world of options to upgrade the server up to, and beyond the specifications of lets say the ML310e V2, so for impatient people like me... there's a way to sit on the front row for a dime.
You're not bound to HPE hardware and with a little creativity you can create quite the EPIC server after you bought the step-in model of a ML10 v2...
And the topic stated "WHICH one is right for you." and i'm simply trying to rip up the box(, i'm done thinking outside of it).
 

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LoneWolf    156
LoneWolf

Well, for someone on the cheap, the HP Smart Array P212 or P410 are now at fire sale prices on eBay. I bought a P212 Saturday with 512mb of cache and a battery for $18. These are great for learning RAID and adding performance on a budget. They probably won't be monitored in iLO as they are Gen7 parts but they work well.

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LoneWolf    156
LoneWolf

Reason for bringing this up is quite simple: the ML10 v2 can be considered a budget machine but once you get the hang of the server and WANT to upgrade there's a whole world of options to upgrade the server up to, and beyond the specifications of lets say the ML310e V2, so for impatient people like me... there's a way to sit on the front row for a dime.

You're not bound to HPE hardware and with a little creativity you can create quite the EPIC server after you bought the step-in model of a ML10 v2...

And the topic stated "WHICH one is right for you." and i'm simply trying to rip up the box(, i'm done thinking outside of it).

 

 

And this guide is really for several reasons:

 

1)  Mainly not to tell you *what* to buy as much as make sure you're fully informed what your options are before you pull the trigger.  That way, you can decide what works for you based on your budget, and what kind of techie you consider yourself.  Some people like experimentation.  Some people are purists - they like something that matches the way HP or a corporate network would put it in place.  Some people have one budget, some people have another.

2) To that end, there are still some people at the end of it that would rather say "Tell me what to buy".  For them, my best suggestions are based on what you want to accomplish, combined with the budget you have.  It's very possible for example to take an ML10 v2 as you suggest and make it a powerhouse by buying the lowest end model and shoving hardware in it to match your needs.  However, some add-ons (like the ML310e/ML30 drive bays) are an expensive add-on if you want to buy a new drive cage, backplane, backplate, and then drive sleds.  Some people would much rather that came with.

3) Different nations = different currency.  A Canadian is going to probably pay a 10-15% upcharge of what I would, because the Canadian dollar is weak relative to the US one.  A country with a strong currency might pay less.  UK folks might have to figure in VAT tax.  And so on.  This may or may not be a factor, depending on where you live, so knowing what is available and determining whether it's something you need or not (or in some cases "want enough" rather than need) may help you make the call when it comes to the price.

 

In my case, I didn't find out until it was too late that the ML10 v2 doesn't support Intelligent Provisioning, which is useful to me.  Plenty of people either won't need that, or won't want it enough to pay the extra.  If I can benefit someone by making sure they are informed before they buy something, then they benefit by going in eyes wide open. :)

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LoneWolf    156
LoneWolf

NRF, by the way, allow me to add this from HP's Dynamic Smart Array B140i literature (the B120i has similar wording):

 

The HPE Dynamic Smart Array B140i RAID controller is a RAID solution combining SATA ports and
proprietary software components. Eliminating most of the hardware RAID controller components, and
relocating advanced RAID algorithms from a hardware-based controller into device driver software lowers
the total solution cost, while still maintaining comparable RAID protection and full compatibility with Smart
Array disk format, configuration utilities, and management/monitoring software.
 
Once you read the literature, the fine print becomes less so, and shows that most (if not all) calculations for RAID have been moved to the driver.  What this means in plain words is that those calculations have to be done by something now that there isn't a RAID CPU to offload them to; that means your processor gets to do it, which isn't nearly as optimized.

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nrf    94
nrf

reminds me of the old 'share the system ram with the display' days...

so 'smart' means 'smart enough to use your cpu instead of forking over money for hardware'

Edited by nrf

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GotNoTime    219
GotNoTime

Whether software raid is good or not depends on your situation. If you've got a spare CPU core or two you are willing to dedicate to it then software RAID can be faster than hardware RAID even with hardware parity. No hardware to buy or maintain and you get the benefit of not being locked into a hardware vendor if you use OS software RAID. Upgrading your CPU will correspondingly increase the speed of your RAID parity calculations.

 

As I mentioned before, the HP DSA controllers are just the Intel SATA controllers with HP firmware and drivers. There is no hardware acceleration involved. The benefit is that you have a clean upgrade path to the HP SA controllers. The metadata is the same so you just add the card, swap the drives and you're ready to go.

reminds me of the old 'share the system ram with the display' days...

Anything with integrated graphics uses main memory as your VRAM so that still happens today.
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LoneWolf    156
LoneWolf

Well, once you don't use parity, the need for a hardware controller is far less.

 

The B120i doesn't support RAID 5 on its own.  You'd need an operating system that does RAID-5 for you.  I'm very loath to recommend solutions like Dynamic Disks (Microsoft) or Windows Storage Spaces (also Microsoft) because they come with their own set of cons.

 

If you're running a Linux-based NAS software or OS that supports ZFS, this could be an entirely different animal.  There are some decent benefits to software RAID on ZFS, but this is another ball game.  SSDs also improve things, but while I get running them in a RAID-1 mirror, I'm not sure I see the value of running them in a RAID-5/6; most people use them for the boot OS and then go for mechanical disks for storage.

 

Once again, with the B140i and B120i not supporting caching or hardware acceleration, once you're using a parity-based RAID (with the exception of IMO, ZFS or certain specific situations) with mechanical disks, I have found in the enterprise world what the results are, and they're lousy.  The moment you have multiple demands from multiple workstations beyond just basic file serving --this includes Exchange, any sort of database (even basic, like QuickBooks), or multiple simultaneous VM, I've experience how much a system bogs down with a product like the LSI 9211-8i.  When you can buy a Smart Array P222 or P410 for under thirty bucks, why not?

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