Well the time has come, and we have a shot of the new G8 Microserver next to the soon-to-be-superceded G7 model.
We have more photos to come over the next few days – this one is just a teaser!
The beta program for the upcoming HP Microserver G8 is in full swing. At least two beta units are out in the field within my sphere of contacts, however I refused the offer to take part in any beta after the removal by the HP Microsevers page on Facebook.
Some of the details I have been leaked by internal HP contacts is only now becoming clear. I was given the follow images last week from someone inside HP.
These show a very modular unit, indeed stackable with other Microserver-like chassis units. This feature was considered to be a part of the external storage unit, however with that also confirmed as no longer happening, the modular design seemed to have been a hangover of the previous product development and design.
That is until today. A source familiar with the beta program has passed on the information of a
“stackable unit, smaller in height than the Microserver unit itself, for backup purposes”.
This highly curious information could mean any of the following devices could be on the way:
Considering the four USB ports on the back, all quite possible scenarios. Of these, I think the RDX unit most likely as this unit is being targeted at the smaller remote offices where a simple backup solution is often lacking.
Another beta tester has raised the possibility of another component that they have actually received and are testing. While I cannot divulge this information yet as it may be traceable back to the end user due to forums I frequent. That said, I was surprised that this sort of module is available and currently testing with customers, but is a brilliant move by HP.
Finally, we found this on a slide from an internal HP source… I wonder what this could be?
The plot thickens!
More information has been leaked to me from a source inside the HP corporate machine regarding the features that were actually ruled out of appearing from the upcoming G8 Microserver models. The list appears to have a couple of items on it which at first glance seems out of place on what really is HP’s most basic server.
From what we could ascertain from our source, at the original product planning stage of the new model, the team basically throws all possible features and functionality that could possibly be put into the product onto the table, then rules each one out. Some features went further into the product planning process than others, but items taken out of the product specification is said to be ‘outscoped’.
Some of the outscoped features supplied to me were:
There’s also something removed from the new Microserver too. So far we have ruled out any eSATA port, which the G7 did have. We think that the USB 3.0 ports will more than make up for the lack of eSATA, which could be difficult for some people to use.
This one seems a bit out of place in such a low-powered ecosystem. 12G SAS is usually reserved for the high-end SSD drives, or multi-port HDD drives. Even then, if you need more storage speed, usually it would be cached to a PCIe-based SSD which has data transfer speeds well in excess of 12Gbps.
The target market for the Microserver G8 is for either SOHO storage, or for Branch offices that need a little storage but the ability to run remote Active Directory, DNS & DHCP plus maybe a print queue or two. SAS 12G just isn’t required!
The idea of an SFF cage in a device like this is not new – plenty of Microsavants have installed a 4 x 2.5″ drive cage into the 5.25″ ODD bay of the G7 Microservers. HP themselves started moving to SFF Drives in a number of the Proliant G5 range, notably the DL360 and DL380. Due to this, the DL380 G8 can now take up to 16 spindles with its SFF cages in a 2RU Chassis, whereas the DL380 G4 could only take six spindles with 3.5″ Drives in its 2RU Chassis.
The main benefit of more spindles is a higher aggregated IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) over the entire array. This means more reads and writes can be performed, and applications need to wait shorter amounts of time for the data to be written to/read from storage.
There is a downside to the 2.5″ disk format. Basically the highest density drives in a 2.5″ format is currently 1TB. There are 2TB drives available from Western Digital but they either sport a Micro-USB3 interface and come as a external storage drive, or they are the ‘Green’ models and these do not play nicely with Hardware RAID controllers.
In the case of something like the Microserver, a 3.5″ bay means that 4TB can be stored with a 4TB Hard Drive. You cannot fit 4x 1TB 2.5″ drives into the space of a single 3.5″ drive, so by doing so you would actually lose density of storage by doing this. I also cannot see how this unit would require the sorts of performance required by more than spindles UNLESS it was being used as a highly storage-contended Virtualised Host, and even then your biggest problem is going to be CPU cycles. It’s not like there would be four Database VM’s fighting over disk as your CPU will not have the capacity for that.
What the SFF drives would do for the Microserver will make it easier to design, mainly as the drive bays are smaller and the HP Designers could orientate them differently in order to gain space and reduce the physical size of the unit. They could even or even fit more disks in without sacrificing space. On my quick estimate, I think you could fit 12 SFF drives where the current 4 LFF reside, and maybe still have some space left over. Still not going to have the maximum storage capacity of the current 3.5″ setup, but would get close. If decent 2TB drive were available, it would be a different outcome.
I personally think this is the most interesting of the outscoped features. It would mean that you would get an External SAS port that you could use to hook up to external disk arrays. I have used a Promise VessRAID unit with Dual SAS interfaces at a client site to act as a shared ESXi Datastore. There are other 3rd Party RAID or JBOD enclosures that you can plug a workstation into. This storage is then presented to the machine through a Host Bus Adapter (HBA) card.
I have used a few SAS HBA’s with ESXi hosts, and they work well. The bandwidth available is very good, in most cases 600MB/sec transfers are very possible. It all depends on the array itself and how it is configured. It would have turned the little Microserver into a unit that could store some serious amounts of data and probably would have eaten into other HP product sales, so it was taken out of scope.
This External Storage Array is the other half of the External SCSI Interface. This was mooted to be a modular box that looked exactly like the upcoming Microserver, however would only contain storage bays for drives, and a small SAS interface to manage them and connect it back to the Microserver, along with a power supply.
In this case, it was very much like the units you can get from NAS vendors which you can add/stack to your NAS to increase the storage capacity. One I can think off immediately is the Synology DS-513 which you connect to a ‘host’ NAS via an eSATA port, but gives you an additional 5x 3.5″ drives for storage.
Again, probably meant that the Microserver could store too much and take sales away from more powerful enterprise level storage.
There is really no surprise that these features were rejected by HP. Personally I find it rather exciting that they ever considered putting these sorts of technologies and features into the Microserver in the first place. To my mind, the idea of SAS 12G being baked into a sub-$500 server is equal parts terrifying, confusing and inspiring. For this, I applaud HP’s open thinking regarding the possibilities of their products.
It is quite a shame that the Storage Expansion Unit did not make the cut. This would have been very interesting and kept the Microserver look. But on the other side of that argument there is nothing stopping us buying a SAS HBA card and running that in our Microserver and connecting something like a 8-bay external disk unit to it.
The fact is that generally, HP has heard the cries of the community and acted upon them. 16GB Memory capacity, USB 3.0 ports, Dual NICs with teaming capability, and proper iLO Management have all been added to the product along with a very reasonable CPU upgrade. I think we can all be thankful that we got what we wanted.
Looks like the employee who leaked an image of the new Generation 8 HP Microserver deleted his tweet over the furore.
James Henry, listed as “Business Development Manager for CloudSystem – Hewlett Packard EMEA” tweeted the above photo and labelled it as “the new Microserver and Project Moonshot server with the rest of the G8 range”.
As of lunchtime today, the tweet is no longer available:
Based on events of the last 36 hours, I have been leaked a few very interesting pieces of information regarding the upcoming HP Microserver G8 which is due for release very soon. It seems that not everyone within HP and their contractors are happy with the way that HP has handled the leak on specifications yesterday.
Within the community, possibly the second most asked question by Microsavants is “Will the new G8 support more than 8GB of RAM?”
This question has been asked relentlessly in fora all over the intertubes. While the G7 range of Microservers officially supported a maximum 8Gb of 1333Mz DDR3 unbuffered ECC RAM, there was certain RAM modules which were compatible ‘enough’ so that 16GB of RAM was detected on boot, and a fantastic database of working modules was maintained on the Microserver Wikia page. While most of the Microserver units seemed to work okay, there were just some that would never see 16GB and would only detect and use 8GB of RAM.
For most ESXi users, the difference between having 8GB or 16GB usable was around 4-5 Virtual machines per box on 8GB, or 10-12 virtual machines if you could get 16GB working. In a virtualisation sense, the difference is huge.
So in the last 24 hours, we have been lucky enough to receive the Microserver G8 System Diagram from an internal HP source. While there is more to this diagram, we are only publishing a small amount of it in case of traceability and to protect our source.
As you can see, there will be two memory channels off the integrated Intel CPU memory controller each running a single DDR3 slot on the motherboard for a total of two RAM slots. The G8 Microserver maintains the G7 support of 1300Mhz DDR3 in either normal desktop SDRAM or unbuffered ECC. The G8 increases the memory speeds to 1600Mhz, and takes official memory capacity to 16GB.
This is excellent news, those upgrading will be able to transfer their previous 16GB kits into the new G8 units, on the proviso that they have enough physical clearance between other components in the new model. Those that purchased the 16GB 1333Mhz ECC kits from Kingston or Crucial should see a straight swap with zero issues.
Of course, until we get the new units in our hands we cannot test and see if 32GB of memory in the unit would work. That said, remembering that since this is a relatively cheap machine to purchase, the idea of buying 16GB DDR3 ECC DIMMs seems rather expensive as these are most definitely a enterprise server part and commands a premium price.
In any case 16GB is supported, which for some will be comforting and a bonus if their G7 never quite got to 16GB. For others it will be a disappointment as it is no real improvement on their G7. Put your comments below!
If you noticed the flurry of activity on my blog yesterday, you might have noted that there was some new info posted regarding the Microserver G8. This was also posted to a page on Facebook called HP Microservers. But don’t click the link. Why? Facebook have removed the page, so you will be greeted by this:
This morning at just before 6am AEST, I was sent the following email with the ominous sounding title ‘Facebook Warning’:
Facebook Pages may only be administered by authorized representatives of their subject matter. As a result, your Page has been removed for violating our Terms.
Learn more about our Terms:
The Facebook team
I then checked Facebook and sure enough – the page is gone. Somewhere over 900 likes, an engaged community of Microserver users, posts and information going back nearly 2 years, lots of goodwill…. all gone. Hell, there was more than one HP employee that had liked the page, including the former Product Manager for the Microserver G7 who was promoted to the DL385 range after a very successful initial model.
The section of the Facebook Terms of Service for pages I believe that it was removed user states:
A. Only authorized representatives may administer a Page for a brand, entity (place or organization), or public figure.
So it appears that I am not an authorised HP representative. And that’s fair enough, however there were plenty of places mentioning it was not a HP affiliated page, it was run by fans. The Facebook Terms of Service keeps going
B. Any user may create a Page to express support for or interest in a brand, entity (place or organization), or public figure, provided that it is not likely to be confused with an official Page or violate someone’s rights.
Well, maybe it was because it was only called HP Microservers rather than HP Microservers Users Group or Fans of HP Microservers.
Nobody really knows why, but since the page had been up and running for up to two years, with multiple HP Employees on the page and contributing, one has to wonder what took them so long to request Facebook remove it. You only need to look at the content posted yesterday, including my posts about HP Proliant G8 Microservers leaked and EXCLUSIVE: USB3 is confirmed on Microserver G8, notwithstanding other information on the Facebook page itself.
Added to the leak by yesterday, where they stated it was going to be styled in the same design as the other HP Gen 8 servers, we decided to go looking and found that a HP Employee had posted a photo of the new Microserver G8 on Twitter with it’s other Gen 8 relatives. That’s right, it was freely posted by a HP employee. We of course grabbed it and used it – because if an HP employee puts it out there, it’s public knowledge and any ‘posts are my own view and not of my employer’ disclaimer be damned.
The really puzzling thing is that we previously removed information about the G8 model back in April when some eagle-eyed Microsavants (that’s a Microserver nut to the average person) found details of accessories for the upcoming G8 models on HP’s website itself! All this info went onto various forums around the world and is still available, however I was asked to remove it from the Facebook page. I elected to comply with that request at the time as a gesture of good faith to HP, and try to forge some sort of partnership with them.
There is of course more to this story, and as it plays out I will be posting more details. However there is a time and place for everything, and now is not the time to be discussing those points.
It is such a shame to see the wealth of information and links to cool Microserver implementations like putting one in the back of a Dodge Viper is now lost. The membership I am sure will be upset by this as well. Most of them really like the G8 model information, and most were talking about buying one, two or even more. It would seem that once again, a big corporate has literally stomped on the head of an social community that loves its products. Seems counter-intuitive to me.
Hopefully HP will see some sense in the next 24 hours and ask Facebook to reinstate the page, if that is even possible. Stay tuned people, a Microserver community on Facebook will be back.
After today’s earlier leak regarding the specifications of of the upcoming HP Microserver G8 range, one question was asked.
“Does it have any USB 3.0 ports?”
The leaked specs only confirmed 7 USB ports, but did not specify if they were USB2 or USB3, or a mix of the two.
Now USB3 is very important in the Microserver realm. Many organisations would use these as a backup host, and then copy a backup off it to a USB disk. Home users can also use USB3 disks for relatively quick expansion of software RAID, or push USB disks through a hypervisor and present them to a VM, possibly for running a torrent storage drive rather than on the Machine-local RAID array.
The issue with USB 2.0 is transfer speed, namely that it lacks enough of it. To copy 3TB of backup archives to an external drive over USB2 can take 8-10 hours or more as you can only maintain around a 20-25MB/sec transfer rate. USB3 takes that to under 3 hours and can maintain well over 65MB/sec copy speeds.
So yes, after poking around the interwebs and receiving information from a trusted source familiar with the upcoming Microserver models, I can indeed confirm the following USB port configuration.
The USB 3.0 ports will be provided by an NEC/Renesas chip, widely known for it’s compatibility with USB 3.0 devices. The Intel ‘Cougar Point’ C204 chipset in the Microserver G8 does not support USB 3.0, so it requires an add-on chip on the motherboard.
I can also confirm that the units will not be bootable from the USB 3.0 ports either. But we think when most people were only hoping for 2 USB 3.0 ports, to be getting four is a massive bonus. I’m sure lots of people out in the Microserver universe will be happy to know that USB 3.0 is definitely in.
Respected home networking blog ServeTheHome has leaked the upcoming specs of the new HP Microservers, of which the G7 Models (N36L, N40L, N54L) have all been wildly successful amongst the tech crowd for their low price, high flexibility and miserly power usage. Many people used them as a home-built NAS when loaded with FreeNAS, others like myself use them as a home ESXi lab for learning. They also made a good XMBC box for media playing, streaming and recording.
When they could be picked up at some points well under AUD$200, it’s no wonder the tech community embraced them. There was even a HP Microservers Facebook page set up for them! Online forums like OCAU, HardOCP and others have threads on the G7’s stretching into multiple thousands of posts.
The G8 Microservers differ from the G7 models in many respects, firstly the aging AMD Turion dual-core CPUs have been replaced with newer Intel chips along with the Intel C204 ‘Cougar Point’ chipset. You have a choice of the Celeron G530T or the Pentium G630T. The Celeron clocks two cores at 2.0Ghz with 2MB cache to get an average CPU Passmark of 1604, while the G630T also sports two cores at 2.3Ghz, but increases the cache to 3MB. This boost takes the G630T to an average CPU Passmark of 2154 which is well over double the N40L’s 979 Passmark.
One of the biggest issues with the G7 Microserver was memory support. While it sported ECC non-Registered RAM and could also take standard DDR3 memory, officially it only supported 8GB. While some in the Microserver Community were able to get them running with 16GB of RAM, DIMM compatibility was crucial to the success of booting the hardware with 16GB. The G8’s will support ECC memory again, but at this stage we do not have any information on the maximum memory support. We expect 16GB at a minimum, but 32GB may be possible. Any of the ECC memory that G7 owners used in their older hardware should be transferable to the new hardware – great news!
Another major boost is the inclusion of HP’s iLO4 hardware management which is usually included on their higher-end Proliant Servers. The G7 lacked this feature, although had a proprietary slot for a RAC (Remote Access Card) which gave similar functionality. The NIC’s have also been upgraded to Dual Broadcom-based ports and the iLO port is a separate, dedicated port unlike the ML310e G8 which requires a optional mezzanine card for a separate port.
HP’s B120i RAID solution also features in the G8 Microserver, a far cry from the AMD RAIDXpert chip on the G7. This is also fitted to the higher end Proliant offerings like the ML310e G8 and gives ESXi support out of the box, something the AMD solution did not. There is no real information what RAID levels this will support for now, but we know it can do RAID levels 0, 1 and 10 out of the box, and if fitted with 512MB of cache it can do RAID5 also however that may require a HP SmartArray Advanced software key. Until we get more information, we cannot really tell what the hardware will support.
There’s also 2x SATA3 (6Gbps) ports on the Microserver, perfect for a couple of SSD’s to be added. The pictures we have found of it also show a slim optical drive, although it is likely that the internals will be much tighter so finding a place to put them or other mechanical drives may be a problem. I have a feeling you will not be able to stuff an extra 3x 3.5″ drives into it like some people were able to do with the G7 chassis. Hopefully there will be a couple of mounts for 2.5″ drives in there somewhere.
USB ports have been a major talking point in the community, and USB3 ports have been high on the wishlist of many. The Intel C204 chipset supports 6x USB2 ports, although the leaked specs say 7. There is a possibility of a USB3 controller chip but I would not hold my breath for it.
HP has also given us the new G8 styling, bringing the look of the unit into what many would call style. The G7’s flat black look was sufficient and was able to be hidden away reasonably well, but the G8’s look so good that you will want to show them off!
I am really looking forward to these being released. My ESXi boxes are really struggling with disk writes as the CPU is reasonably slow. A 4-spindle RAID5 array off a P410 card simply does not see the performance it would in a reasonable desktop CPU. RAM being capped at 8GB is another issue, it really limits the amount of VM’s you can have, especially if you cannot get 16GB to work on your G7 Microserver. They should also be compatible out of the box with HP’s ESXi Custom Image which already has all the drivers for the G8 Broadcom NICs and B120i controllers.
Of course price will be the issue and I think we will see the retail price on these to be $499 for the G530T and $599 for the G630T to begin with. The N54L’s will be run out with rebates in the near future, You should be able to pick them up for about $180 very soon, even though the current price hovers at about $269. Keep an eye on StaticIce for the special deals.