EXCLUSIVE: Internal photos of the HP Microserver G8 leaked

Well here are the photos you have all been waiting for – a world exclusive of the HP Microserver G8 with all the internal photos to answer all the questions you were after,  and a full 7 days before the Official HP product announcement.

 

HP_Microserver_G8_Int_Front

First off, we have inside the door. We see a completely different design in the G8 from the outgoing G7. The biggest changes are the stock HP Non-Hot Plug LFF Drive caddies, some of you may already be familiar with these from the DL120 servers. Also the front of the server is closed with meshed steel panelling. This is quite the change from the open fronted G7 where you could open the door to gain access to not only the hard disks in the cage, but also the internal USB port.

Other features of note include a magnetically latched door, and no apparent locking mechanism. To me, this seems like a major oversight from HP as they are positioning this model as an enterprise-ready, remote branch office basic file & print server, maybe doing local Active Directory, DHCP & DNS. As a IT Consultant that specialises in hardware and networking myself, I know how inquisitive fingers can be. If I was putting any sort of server in a remote location, I would want it locked down tight. The key lock of the G7 achieves this, but is conspicuously absent in the G8.

And yes, that thing on top we cannot tell you about yet, but there will be a reveal on this blog later this week ahead of the official HP announcement of this server at HP Discover in Las Vegas on 11-13 June.

HP_Microserver_G8_Int_FBWC

Next we pop the case off and have a look on top. We see a large rubber grommet on the top of the Microserver unit, stamped with ‘FBWC’ – or in HP jargon – Flash backed Write Cache. This is what will turn your standard disinterested RAID10-level B120i controller into a much more efficient and effective RAID5 unit.

You can look up the cost of these FBWC modules yourself, but brace yourself for some sticker shock as they are not cheap. Also, we have not yet spotted a header on the motherboard where these plug in.

On the right you can also see the quick-release tab for the slimline DVD/RW optical drive. You have seen these on most of the current G8 servers and probably some of the bigger G7’s also.

HP_Microserver_G8_Ext_Rear

We now move to the rear of the unit, where we can see two Gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB3.0 ports as previously confirmed on this blog, VGA port, dedicated iLO4 port, and a low-profile PCIe x16 slot. There’s also a standard IEC power plug for the PSU, and you will notice the sound-deadening rubber grommets around the main fan screws which help to lower noise.

One thing that may slip you attention – the quick release motherboard tray tab just underneath the main fan. Push that tab down, and as long as you have unplugged all cables in the motherboard then you can pull that entire motherboard tray out bacwards without tools. For those of us with skinned knuckles after the G7, this looks extremely easy to work on.

HP_Microserver_G8_Int_RightHandSide

We now look at the right hand side, and there are two major points of interest. First and most obvious is the two memory slots which will make memory replacement one of the easiest things you have ever done, definitely easier than upgrading the RAM in a laptop. Bravo HP, you are to be congratulated on this very intelligent design.

So what is the second thing I hear you ask? That blue tab halfway up – that’s your new door locking mechanism! Close the door, push down on the blue tab and it will lock the door shut. Still not the best or most secure solution in my eyes, but will keep most inquisitive fingers at bay.

HP_Microserver_G8_Int_LeftHandSide

Now, the side you all really want to see. A standard 150W power supply could indeed be replaced by a more efficient PicoPSU supply and leave plenty of room for at least a couple more drives, maybe you could squeeze 4 2.5″ drives or SSD’s in there.

There are plenty of other goodies in here, but we need to take a closer look.

HP_Microserver_G8_Int_LeftHandSideDetail

BOOYAH! Click on it to take a closer look!

There is plenty going on here, so lets take it one step at a time.

First off is the CPU. Now that looks like a reasonably standard Northbridge heatsink, but in this case it actually does the cooling duties for an i3-3220T CPU. This CPU has a TDP of 35W and is pretty much the limit for non-active cooling with a fan. We cannot see if there is a socket under there, but the heatsink seems to be fairly high off the motherboard so initial signs look good for a socket.

Moving left, we can see the power MOSFETs for the CPU power have a heatsink on them too. This will be helpful and make the G8 more reliable.

Further left again and we can see the HP iLO chip which houses plenty of internal smarts for out-of-band remote management. In my day job, we only use HP servers and iLO is the best remote management solution out there bar none. If you haven’t experienced iLO in an enterprise server yet, then you are in for a big surprise.

Towards the front we have the single PCIe x16 expansion slot. This is a little disappointing as many of us were using the x1 slot on the G7 for another network card, possibly a TV tuner. Personally I modded the x1 and proprietary x4 slot into open slots, and dropped a HP NC360T dual-port Gigabit Ethernet card into it. that addition gave me a total of 3 network ports which is almost a requirement for an ESXi lab machine. Hopefully I can get a USB3.0 network adapter which is on the VMware Hardware compatibility list soon.

Down the very front you can spot a MICRO SD CARD SLOT! SD card slots have been on the motherboards of a number of HP servers for a while now, but I have never seen a Micro SD card slot. This is an amazing addition to the Microservers. Next to it you can see the USB2 port for booting from a USB stick – handy for BIOS flashes, or even booting ESXi or FreeNAS from instead.

To the far right we can see a single SATA3 6.0Gbps port, whereas we had documentation leaked from HP stating two SATA3 ports on the motherboard. Now we hope the final units have two ports but I can imagine HP seeing it as a non-essential port. You have got one SATA port for the DVD drive, why do you need two? It seems like HP does not want us to have extra drives.

Finally, we can see the SAS connector on the furthermost right, again providing onboard hardware RAID to the drives in the internal LFF cage.

HP_Microserver_G8_BetaUnitSpecs

Finally, the specs of the beta machine. Please remember that this is a beta unit and specifications usually do change. That said, this unit looks reasonable close to manufacturing ready and I doubt there would be too many changes to the chassis or motherboard. About the only thing to change would be the CPU I would suggest.

I hope you have enjoyed our run-through of the beta G8 model, and stay tuned for a special top-secret reveal later this week. I would suggest subscribing to our RSS feed so you get the information as soon as we post it.

16 comments for “EXCLUSIVE: Internal photos of the HP Microserver G8 leaked

  1. Iain Sheppard
    June 4, 2013 at 09:16

    This looks AMAZING. In regards to that other PSU you mentioned how does it work? Just and external power pack? Also is it that much more efficient?

  2. sorted
    June 4, 2013 at 23:24

    Curious about 3 things wanting to build an ESXi server.

    1) Is there enough space to house a decent active heatsink and do the mounting holes of the HP Heatsink correspond with any stock Intel Heatsink. It’s a tight fit and I can imagine that the HDD’s can run a bit hot being just above the CPU.
    2) What is the Max. TDP for this Server. Will it accept a XEON E3 1200 CPU with a TDP of 45W.
    3)Will it accept 32 GB of memory.

    Shame if HP doesn’t add the second Sata Port. That micro SD card may come in handy for putting iso’on it to remotely install an OS from scratch via iLo.

    • Monsta
      June 5, 2013 at 11:51

      1) Looking at the photos I doubt there is space for a proper active heatsink. About the only thing you could do is mount a 40mm Sunon Fan to the side of the stock heatsink, probably with superglue or similar. I did the same on my older Gigabyte Core2Duo mobos (P35-DS3P & EP45-DS3P) on the Northbridge chip, which enabled more voltage and cooler operation for big overclocks with full stability.

      2) Max TDP would be 35W, which is the output of the i3-3220T CPU they fitted to the beta units. Looking at the MOSFET cooling I do not think I would want to push too far past 35W.

      3) You are going to buy 2x 16GB DIMMS and put them into a $500 server? 16GB is the official support, 32GB *MAY* work but I doubt it as the Cogar point chipset only supports 48*gb channels for 32GB total. We only have two channels in the G8 so I would be very surprised if 32GB works.

      If you need 32GB, get a ML310e G8 which supports 32GB and VT-d and other ESXi goodies.

  3. Iain Sheppard
    June 5, 2013 at 11:51

    From what I have read from the following pages on here is that….

    1) No
    2) 35 Watt
    3) Not that I have read, but the G7 Series said it only supported 8GB but you could run 16GB.

  4. June 5, 2013 at 18:41

    I question the viability of a server with 2GB of RAM. While it does kick the arse of any NAS out there, when trying to run multiple VMs you’re going to run into trouble.

    Then there’s the low end dual core processor. It smashes an ARM processor for power, but not enough to, again, run multiple VMs. Yet it’s not low power enough to compete with the ARM processors out there.

    It’s kind of like what we needed 5 years ago, but wasn’t able to be made, a bit more RAM & a faster processor & I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

    It seems like a jack of all trades, & the only way it could win a market share is with price, somehow I don’t think HP will price this anywhere near a cheap 4 drive NAS.

    • Monsta
      June 6, 2013 at 10:27

      Plenty of us are using these units but have upgraded the RAM sortius. I am personally running ESXi on one box with a 2GB Win7 VM for torrents, and a number of 512MB/1GB Linux boxes for various purposes like DNS, HTTPD, MySQL along with a decent Hardware RAID disk subsystem (P410 card with cache, 4 spindle RAID5). It runs multiple VM’s just fine but I definitely would not be pushing large MS SQL Server instances with something like this. For me it is a VCP5 Lab that also runs things I need. That said, in my experience the biggest limiting ESXi performance factor is the speed of your storage, not the CPU.

      There’s also some users like James Tenniswood using SSD’s in these exclusively – something that has says increases the capacity and usability of these boxes in a big way.

      If you need something with more power, you are looking at the Acer AC100, with a quadcore Xeon CPU. I do note that it is also only sole with 2GB of RAM also. It does miss out on all the HP manageability and helpful features, and is currently up around the AUD$900 mark. I have seen it on special for $599 at times, and it appears to be EOL as although you can get a search result for it on the Acer Website, it has sort of been removed from the Acer Website.

      I think in the G7 model, at the pricing we were given, we got a very good value machine. In the G8, they have increased the functionality while raising the prices (and margin) which is important for HP so they can continue the product line. If you want something more capable, you can get an ML310e G8 or a similar Dell machine, both of which can be had well under $1000 if you know where to look.

  5. Sorted
    June 6, 2013 at 03:31

    True regarding te ML310, it’s more esxi capable… But i like the compact form factor of the microservers. Let’s wait at what price it retails. If it’s close to an ML series then that’s the better option for sure.

    @ 35W TDP there’s also a Intel® Core™ i5-3470T with Vt-D that would work as well. I’m not running more then 4 lightweigt VM’s and 1 one heavy at any given time. Intel® Core™ i5-3470T also has turbo boost of max 3.6 Ghz. Intel Xeon E3-1220L is also a possibilty @17W TDP if you want to run a low power unit.

    I can get the Dimm’s cheap 😉 . Doing the math you’re probably right that 16 is the max.

    The link below shows some possible cpu’s that are 35W TDP and socket 1155.

    http://ark.intel.com/compare/53401,65735,75053,66168,65694,65703,53484

    and a quick compare between the i5 en Xeon.

    http://www.cpu-world.com/Compare/365/Intel_Core_i5_i5-3470T_vs_Intel_Xeon_E3-1220L.html

    • Monsta
      June 6, 2013 at 10:01

      Absolutely there are more CPUs out there that you could possibly use. But at what pricepoint? HP has to make a machine that provides enough power for a ‘Small Branch Office’ situation without pushing the price up too high, and also without cannibalisation of their more expensive products. What they have done is provide a server that has more flexibility an features than ‘Just a NAS’ but at a similar pricepoint and power consumption.

      The fact that you can get ESXi onto the G8 and have it completely supported, and run 2 low-to-mid duty VM’s without a performance issue is a big tick to flexibility.

      Until we get some confirmation if the unit is socketed and able to swap CPU’s, all the talk of swapping CPU’s is a little premature.

  6. Iain Sheppard
    June 6, 2013 at 13:09

    Either way this G8 is a major improvement over the G7 and backwards. I looked at the ACER AC100 but it also had some limiting factors….

    The Price
    Software RAID
    SATA2
    USB2
    1 NIC

    its pretty much just a slighter better machine compared with the G7 in my opinion.

    The G8 ticks all the boxes for me :)

  7. Iain Sheppard
    June 6, 2013 at 13:49

    I wanted RAID5 but look at the cost of the Cache unit… $450 on ebay vs a HighPoint RocketRAID 2711 @ $245

    • Monsta
      June 9, 2013 at 14:17

      The RocketRaid cards aren’t a true RAID at all usually, the vast majority do not work under ESXi either. I cannot recommend them in any way.

      It just means that if you want some decent power then you buy am ML310e G8, I have seen these well under $900 through a number of local resellers in a ‘barebones’ configuration.

  8. Drew
    June 19, 2013 at 08:30

    Hi

    If you don’t mind me asking, how did you mod the pci-e 4x slot to allow a normal pci-e card to be added. I would prefer an internal RAID card but I need to have a 10gbe card in there as well.
    Cheers

    • Monsta
      June 19, 2013 at 13:14

      You cannot “mod the x4 slot” which is a HP Proprietary slot, you have to mod the x1 slot which will not give you enough bandwidth. I am using an NC360T (dual GbE ports) rather than a 10GbE. A PCIe x1 slot gives you almost enough bandwidth for two Gigabit ports but will not come close for enough for a 10GbE card.

      In a nutshell, you need to modify both the x1 slot and the x4 slot so the ‘middle ends’ are open, and then tape Pin 19 onwards of the card so that it is electrically insulated.

      I do have another N40L to modify this way and will be doing it over the weekend hopefully. Will snap some photos and put a post up a HOWTO once it is done.

      • Drew
        June 20, 2013 at 04:01

        Hi

        Thanks for your quick reply – I’d love to see the “Howto”. I potentially want to run a RAID card in that slot (so use that rather than the AMD RAID) and use the PCI-E x16 slot for the 10GbE card. Not sure if its worth it or if there are any decent x1 slot RAID cards which would beat the pants off the internal RAID speeds.

        Cheers
        Drew

  9. Sean
    July 23, 2013 at 16:35

    I just purchased this until and have upgraded the memory to 16GB and with the plan to install the OS and some VMs onto a 2.5″ SSD mounted into the Optical drive bay. All data would reside on the 3.5″ drives.

    All good in theory, plan has fallen down as I actually connot figure out how to connect the drive to the mainboard, (very basic issue I know) does anybody have an idea on this one?

    Would be a shame to lose out on that flexibility.

    Thanks in advance

    Sean

    • Dan
      August 4, 2013 at 17:35

      yes I also wish to know after installing the 4 3.5″ drives where to connect an SSD to use for booting up the machine or cache (ZFS).
      Any hint if it’s possible to implement this set up?
      Cheere and thanks for the well done pics 😉

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