HP Proliant Gen8 – Tech Q&A

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Yesterday HP announced the new ProLiant Gen8. Formerly they had G3, G4, G5, G6 and G7 but this time it has been called the Gen8. Apparently it has something to do with the pronunciation of it (“gee-ate”) that would mean “penis” in Mandarin Chinese. I doubt this is the real reason but it’s a nice one to remember.

Today some of the HP community bloggers had the chance for a 30 minutes Q&A on the announcement yesterday. As you might know, those announcements are always very blurry and have noting but some %-numbers on fancy slides.

Answering the questions:
Gary Thome: Vice President, Strategy, Industry Standard Servers and Software
Paul Birney: Group Manager, Industry Standard Servers and Software
I’ll kick off with what lies closest to my job. Everybody heard the fuzz around EMCs VFCache, FusionIO, All-SSD arrays, … and we are all waiting for the server vendors to answer.

What is Advanced Data Mirroring?
It is a new RAID function. It makes three full
copies of the data, so it is possible to lose 2 disk drives and not lose any
data. Also, this delivers the highest performance with this level of

Will the 6GB SAS disks of G7 and Gen8 be interchangeable?
No, The new SAS disks have new capabilities to
minimize data loss and also put more drives in a server. These new drives
require a new carrier that is not physically compatible with existing carriers… the current SAS disks do not fit into the new
servers for the same reasons given above.

What is Dynamic
Workload Acceleration / Smart Data Services?

The SSD cache function is built into the RAID
controller. Architecturally this is set up to handle all kinds of traffic.
Initially the caching is intended for local storage. T
he cache size options are 512MB, 1GB, or 2GB.
They can be used to cache read or write traffic. It comes as an add-in daughter board. 

We actually have two places where we leverage
solid state. The first is the write cache, which is solid-state backed up to
provide near infinite persistence. We also have SSD drives which are the exact
same form factor as rotating media.

generation controllers were optimized for rotating media. New controllers are
optimized for SSD. We get a 6X boost gen over gen when both are configured with
e have tons of new innovations for SSD based
storage. We have a solid state backed cache on the controller. We support SSD
and rotating disks interchangeably. The controller itself is designed with MUCH
higher bandwidth to handle higher IOPs. Compared to previous gen controller
with rotating disks to the new controller with SSDs, we can get up to 100x more


Anything worth mentioning around RAM and CPU that is
different from the market?

Yes, we have done some great work with RAM. Our
new Smart Memory DIMMs can run at higher speed (+25%) in full configurations or run at
lower power than standard DIMMs. In addition, we have added many resilience and
health features. 
Our new Smart Memory has algorithms built in
that can filter out transient DRAM bit errors from real silicon defects. This
requires a deep understanding of the way DRAM silicon operates. 
Additionally, any failures that occur are logged
on the DIMM, so the DIMM will always “know” that it is bad, even if
moved to a different server. So instead of having to prove the DIMM is bad, the
DIMM will prove to you it is bad. S
tay tuned on the particulars on the clock
speeds. We will disclose these details soon.

For the CPU’s we need to get back to you when products are closer to release dates.


Do Gen8 servers have 10GbE LOM (Lan-On-Motherboard)?
The new ProLiant Gen8 servers feature a flexible
networking architecture, allowing for a choice of HP FlexNet Adapters
(including 10 gigabit adapters). W
hile previous gens did include expansion slots,
with Gen8 we made the “embedded” LOM flexible, you can choose 10GbE
or 1GbE on the motherboard


Does the power supply to circuit mapping
function require HP PDUs? 

The power supply circuit mapping requires HP
power supplies and HP intelligent PDUs in order to get the power & circuit
mapping functions. Gen8 servers are also compatible with off-the-shelf PDUs and
the HP intelligent PDUs will work with other servers. You just lose the
advanced functionality fo power and circuit mapping.

How does a server know it’s position the data

Built-in location awareness with the new Gen8
servers, works hand-in-hand with technology in the new HP Intelligent racks.
Together these technologies send the rack identification number and precise U
location to the servers.


Have there been any innvoations in the systems
management with respect to drivers and firmware?

Our new HP SUM (Systems Update Manager) handles
the updating of firmware and drivers. SUM can automatically build sets of
firmware and automatically handle dependencies, sequencing updates correctly
and staging firmware updates. 
And SUM can do this for hundreds of servers at a
time. Also Our Intelligent Provisioning stores all the drivers on the
motherboard and simplifies the initial install of drivers with the operating
system. A
ll the new functions are built on the
motherboard of the server and require no special licenses. Aggregation of data
such as the power or location information will be provided through Insight
Control which is a licensed product

Does the HP SUM integrate in vCenter / HyperV
manager to put servers in and out of maintenance?

Today HP SUM is a standalone tool that also
integrates with HP Insight Control. You suggest a great potential enhancement. (personal comment: OUCH!)

With the ProActive Insight, I hear some things
traditionally running in the OS are being moved to the iLO – like call home –
can you tell us more about that? 

the agents and call home are all embedded in the iLO. Also the Active Health
system is embedded as are the drivers. So industry leading management
functionaly without any agents needed.

Product Lines/Releases:

Did anything change in the C7000 enclosure?
Gen8 server blades are still supported in the
c7000 enclosure

Is the Storage Blade still available?
Yes, the storage blade is still available

Products available in March and continues
throughout 2012.

When will G7 > Gen8 product comparisons be

Gen to gen comparisons will be available when
the products become available in Mar

Does the E5000 or X5000 configuration change too?
E5000 and X5000 are in the Storage group,
outside of this conversation but we will follow up with you with the right people.

Update Storage Team: it is reasonable to expect that all of our storage products that are based on ProLiant servers will roll to Gen8.

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