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HP embiggens ProLiant x64 server line

Racks, blades, and the promise of more

HP is not only launching two Xeon 7500 servers and three Opteron 6100 servers – as we told you it would - it's also previewing five other machines, which are due during the second half of the year.

Some of these machines – particularly the high-end boxes using Intel's eight-core Xeon 7500 processors, which are the ProLiant DL580 (four-socket) and DL980 (eight-socket) – were expected in March, concurrent with the chip launch, but for reasons that HP did not explain, they were pushed out until June. Most likely, HP needed something interesting and new to talk about at this week's HP Tech Forum customer and partner conference in Las Vegas. But this means that IBM, Dell, NEC, and others hogged all the press about the Xeon 7500 machines they had engineered and got a jump on selling these pricey boxes too.

Dell, knowing that HP was doing a big server launch today with the Xeon 7500 and Opteron 6100 processors, put out a press release to give its x64 rival some shots to the ribs, saying it beat HP to market by three months and has already sold "tens of thousands" of PowerEdge boxes using these two chips. Any way you estimate that, this works out to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for Dell, and maybe more than $1bn if the boxes were heavily configured. Those are not small potatoes in this shrunken server racket.

Don't worry. HP will get its share, as it tends to each quarter in the x64 server space. Customers only change their vendors when something goes horribly wrong or when one vendor offers an advantage that the others do not for an extended period of time. We're talking years, not months.

Among the ten new machines launched today, none of them are using Advanced Micro Devices' forthcoming "Lisbon" Opteron 4100 processors, which will come in four-core and six-core variants and which are designed for single-socket and dual-socket servers with low prices and low thermal profiles. Jim Ganthier, vice president of marketing for HP's Industry Standard Servers division, would not comment on what plans HP had – if any – for these x64 chips.

There are three machines using the twelve-core Opteron 6100s being launched today (one rack and two blades), two machines using the Xeon 7500s (both racks). HP is also talking about one double-stuffed blade (which puts two whole two-socket servers on a single half-height blade) that is being updated to use the six-core "Westmere-EP" Xeon 5600s. HP is not divulging the feeds and speeds of the remaining four boxes, but it looks like there will be a mix of Xeon 5600, 6500, and 7500 processors used in these remaining machines.

Let's start with the three new rack servers in the ProLiant G7 generation of HP iron.

First up is the ProLiant DL580 G7, a 4U, four-socket rack server using Intel's top-end Xeon 7500s that is the Belgian draft horse compared to the smaller DL380 workhorse, which is a 2U, two-socket box based on Intel's mainstream Xeon 5600s. HP is supporting six of the seven Xeon 7500 processors in the DL580 – all of them but the six-core, 1.86 GHz Xeon L7545 processor. (Why you ask? I dunno. But you can see all of the feeds and speed of the Xeon 7500s and their HPC brethren, the Xeon 6500s, here in El Reg's coverage of the March launch of these chips).

In terms of application scalability, the only two chips that matter are the 2.26 GHz Xeon X7560, which has eight cores and costs $3,692 each (when bought in 1,000-unit trays), and the 2.66 GHz Xeon X7542, which has six cores and costs $1,980. The Xeon 7500s come in 130 watt, 105 watt, and 95 watt versions, and prices range from a low of $856 for a four-core E7520 to a crazy $3,692 for the fastest eight-core part.

As El Reg previously divulged, the ProLiant DL580 G7 has 64 DDR3 memory slots, which are implemented on eight memory boards (according to the Xeon 7500 design). The memory board provides two-way interleaving on memory for the four processor sockets and using 16 GB DDR3 memory sticks in the memory boards, you can jack the main memory on the DL580 to 1 TB. The machine has one internal solid state disk slot for embedded hypervisors and eight disk drive bays across the top front of the chassis.

The disks can be SATA or SAS disk drives or SSD units, but they have to be 2.5-inch hot plug drives. The DL580's motherboard has five PCI-Express 2.0 slots (two x8 and three x4) and optional mezzanine cards that plug into the mobo to allow up to an additional six slots of various types (PCI-Express 1.0 and 2.0 and PCI-X) to be added to the box. The DL580 G7 server comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports, but an upgrade module to convert this to dual 10 Gigabit ports is available.

A base DL580 G7 with two four-core 1.86 GHz E7520 processors, 16 GB of memory, the Smart Array P410i/512 MB disk controller, two 1,200-watt power supplies (rated at 94 per cent efficiency), and no disk drives or operating systems will run you $9,249. Plunk four of the eight-core, 2.26 GHz Xeon X7560 processors into it along with 64 GB of memory, now you're talking about $31,849.

HP ProLiant DL580 and DL585 G7

You can't tell the difference between a DL580 G7 and DL585 G7 until you load your code. And maybe not even then.

The DL585 G7 is this DL580 G7's four-socket Opteron cousin from up north in Austin way. (Well, actually German cousin from Dresden, I suppose). The DL585 G7 supports six different SKUs of the twelve-core Opteron 6100s that made their debut in March; AMD has launched ten different "Magny-Cours" processors and it is a bit of a mystery why HP doesn't support them all, but you never find these things out until after the interview, so you can't ask.

HP is letting customers use the 105 watt Opteron 6176 Special Edition (SE) chip, which spins at 2.3 GHz, in the DL585 G7 as well as the Opteron 6164 Highly Efficient (HE) low-voltage part running at 1.7 GHz and rated at 65 watts. The other standard Opteron 6100 parts have 12 cores and run at around 2 GHz, plus or minus a little, and the Opteron 6136 has eight cores running at 2.4 GHz and is rated at 80 watts, like the other standard twelve-core parts.

The DL585 G7 has 48 memory slots, but the memory controller in the Opteron 6100s only allows a four-socket processor to address 512 GB max, so loading it up with 16 GB memory sticks will get you there with only 32 slots being used. If you use 8 GB sticks, then the maximum memory is 384 GB for this box, using all the memory slots.

All of the other peripheral and I/O options on the DL580 G7 are the same on the DL585 G7. A base machine comes with four twelve-core Opteron 6168 processors clocked at 1.9 GHz and 32 GB of main memory. This 48-core machine costs $8,579, less than the 16-core base DL580 G7. A fully loaded Opteron 6100 version of the DL58X platform uses the 2.3 GHz Opteron 6176 SE running at 2.3 GHz with 64 GB of memory for $18,039.

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