HP Compaq ProLiant ML370 G4 (379911-001) Server

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An Excellent Choice if You Need A Very Flexible Rack Mountable Server

Jun 2, 2006 (Updated Jun 2, 2006)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Expandable; versatile storage options; east to access chassis; (3) external 5.25 drive bays.

Cons:None

The Bottom Line: If you are looking for a robust (expandable) 5U rack mount server with plenty of storage potential, the HP Compaq ML370 (G4) might very well fit the bill.


Qualifications: I am the manager (Network Administrator) of a medium-sized server farm in the Mid-West, which consists of some 150+ Dell PowerEdge and HP Compaq ProLiant servers of various models and designs. These models include PE-1750, 1850, 2650, 2850, 2500, 2600, & 6650 as well as HP ProLiant DL-370 & DL-380 servers, running Windows 2003 Standard Server or Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition.

Disclaimer: This review is intended for those with intermediate or advanced server knowledge, or those individuals seeking in-depth information on Enterprise caliber server equipment. Few if any of the terms used throughout the review are expounded upon.

As I stated in my review of the Dell PowerEdge 2850, when you open the door to any modern Network Operations Center (NOC) and you are liable to find all manner of rack mounted servers contently humming away within. From the small 1U’s to the power hungry and space happy 6U’s servers are the life’s blood of the NOC; in fact they are the only reason such facilities exist at all. I have worked with all manner of server from all of the major server vendors; IBM, Hewlett Packard, Dell, and Compaq, and all offer a variety of servers to fit individual needs. We have a number of legacy applications that run on HP Compaq 2U and 5U servers including the HP Compaq DL-370 (G4) 5U rack mountable server.

The HP Compaq ML370 (G4) continues Hewlett Packard/Compaq’s long tradition of building quality enterprise-class server platforms. HP builds the HP Compaq ML370 in several different configurations in both 3U and 5U chassis designs. The 5U chassis design incorporates an HP StorageWorks DAT-72 Tape Backup Unit (TBU) into the design, while the base unit looks very similar to the Dell PowerEdge 2800 series 3U rack servers. We currently have two 5U HP Compaq ML370’s installed.

The (G4) in the description of this server stands for fourth generation as in this is the 4th generation of the ML370 server. Proceeding generation of the server have sported Pentium II and III processors, and have been free standing as well as rack mountable.

The 5U rack-mount ML370 chassis design moves the six-disk hot-swap cage to the far left hand side of the box and stacks them on top of one another, leaving room in the center of the box for up a DAT-72 TBU, 5.25 inch CD-ROM/DVD-ROM, and more hard drives if needed. Altogether there are three external 5.25 inch bays. One the far right of the chassis behind a hinged door you will find the power and resent switch, several LED indicator lights and the USB ports, as well as an integrated 3.5 inch floppy drive. All of the Ultra320 SCSI drives come mounted in industrial-strength metal carriers, and the maximum (native) storage is 1.8TB utilizing 6x300GB Ultra320 15,000rpm drives.

Access to the innards of the ML370 is via an easy to remove to access panel. The internal design of the ML370 is neat, efficient, and orderly; all pertinent interfaces are mounted on the leading edge of the motherboard right next to the devices they are serving, cutting down on the length of the cables. The Intel 64-bit Xeon processors, which can be swiftly removed via a large easy-to-use clamp on the side—are located behind the hard disk bay and covered by a plastic conduit to help direct airflow and promote cooling. And of course each processor is covered by a very large, but needed heat-sink, which unlike personal computers, do have a fan installed ontop.

The power distribution board is mounted under the main board, a design I have never seen before, but it saves valuable space inside the chassis. The base ML370 ships with a single hot-swappable 775W power supply which is of coursed accessed at the rear of the chassis, but for fault tolerance a second power supply can be added. Internal cooling is handled by three hot-swappable low noise fans mounted in the center of the chassis. Room for a fourth hot-swappable cooling fan is provided for in the right hand bay if needed.

To the left of the processors is a bank of eight DDR2 DIMM sockets; The ML370 was one of the first enterprise-class servers to ship with the new PC2 memory configuration. The ML370 ships with a pair of DDR2-400 (400MHz) 512MB SDRAM memory modules in a dual channel configuration. DDR2 memory modules in addition to being noticeably smaller than DDR modules also use lower voltages (1.8 volts vs. 2.5 volts for DDR) and higher clock speeds, which allow for faster throughput. Lower voltages also translate into less heat. DDR2 memory utilizes FBGA (fine ball grid array) packaging that allows chip density to be significantly increased. Currently, HP can ships 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB modules.

There is a lot of room for expansion within the chassis of the ML370. HP equipped the box with (4) 100MHz/64-bit PCI slots as well as (2) 4X PCI-Express slots. The ML370 is also equipped with an integrated HP NC7782 Dual Port PCI-X 10/100/1000T Gigabit network adapter. Dual Ethernet adapter are expected in enterprise-class servers, and one has to look critically at one that does not ship with a dual adapter.

The ML370 also ships with a separate integrated 10/100BaseTX Ethernet adaptor that is used in conjunction with the with an ILO (Integrated LightsOut) remote management control system. ILO allows you to manage and monitor the server remotely via a web browser much the same way HP printers equipped with Ethernet adapters can be managed. With ILO an administrator can monitor the status of the server, view installed internal components, reset the server, as well as power the ML370 off and on. It is a powerful tool, and one I certainly appreciate since I sit on the sixth floor and the server is in the NOC in the basement of the building.

The back of the ML370 is dominated by two removable cooling fans on the right and center of the chassis. To the left of these you will find the (6) PCI expansion slots. Two bays for the two hot-swappable power supplies are located near the bottom of the chassis further underscoring the placement of the power distribution board under the main system board. Immediately above the power supplies and set off to the left are the port for keyboard, mouse, video, Ethernet, as well as the remaining USB ports.

Use

So what does the ML370 do for our business? It runs a legacy (non-Microsoft) application for one of our specialty departments. Along with its mate the ML370 is pretty much stand alone; connected to our environment but not interacting with it in any significant way. Since the server is running a database we installed 146GB Ultra320 hard drives in each bay with one hot-swappable spare giving the ML370 730GB of storage space.

We opted for two processors, 4GB of RAM in for banks, and two power supplies. And as I stated earlier we had an HP StorageWorks DAT-72 TBU factory installed in one for the three 5.25 inch drive bays. The DAT-72 TBU is used to perform nightly backups of the database. Another drive bay is taken up by a 24x CD-ROM drive. The remaining drive bay remains empty but could be optionally filled with two further Ultra320 hard drives.

Word to the wise: this server is heavy—even without the hard drive installed—so I would mount the chassis barebones and use two men unless you want permanent back problems. The racks themselves are hardy and easy to install, and allow ready access to the server.

Since being brought on-line some 1.5 years ago, the server has never suffered a failure of any kind, which speaks volumes of the reliability of HP Compaq servers. And it is worth noting that the server is on-line 24/7/365 with very little scheduled down-time for maintenance.

Conclusion

Though most of our NOC is equipped with Dell servers of various makes and models, our complement of HP Compaq ML370 (G4) servers are in no way considered inferior; they very much hold their own against their black and gray competitors. And they suffer from far less down-time. If you are looking for a robust (expandable) 5U rack mount server with plenty of storage potential, the HP Compaq ML370 (G4) might very well fit the bill.

HP Compaq ProLiant ML370 Server Features and Specifications:

o Rack Design: 5U Rack Mount Chassis;

o Processors: Single or Dual 64-bit Intel Xeon processors (up to 3.6GHz), w/ 800MHz Front Side Bus and 2MB of L2 cache (two processors included in High Performance models);

o Chipset: Intel E7520 Chipset;

o Memory: 1GB PC2-3200R (DDR2-400/ 400MHz) ECC Memory (single processor) expandable to 16GB w/ online spare capabilities (2 GB included in High Performance 2-processor models); support for dual-rank 400MHz DDR2 memory; eight slots;

o SCSI Controllers: SAS (Serial attached SCSI) models include the Smart Array P600 Performance SAS Array Controller with 256MB Battery-Backed Write Cache. SCSI models include the integrated Smart Array 6i Ultra320 Array Controller with optional 128MB of Battery Backed Write Cache (BBWC standard on all high performance models);

o RAID Controller: Embedded LSI Logic LSI1030 dual-channel Ultra320 SCSI;

o Drive Bays: (8) small form factor hot-plug drive bays or (6) hot-plug Ultra320 SCSI drive bays, SCSI models have (1) 1.6" bay that supports a hot-plug DAT-72 TBU; internal hot plug capacity 1.8TB standard (6 x 300GB HDD);

o Ethernet Controller: Integrated HP NC7782 Dual Port PCI-X 10/100/1000T Gigabit network adapter;

o Video: ATI Rage XL graphics chipset with 8MB SDRAM;

o Server Management: Integrated Lights-Out (with 10/100BaseTX port) industry leading remote management with new support for two-factor authentication, schema-free Microsoft Active Directory integration, Power Regulator p-state reporting, USB key virtual media and VLAN on the shared network port;

o Power Supply: Hot Plug Power Supply with optional redundancy (Included in High performance models);

o Chassis Access: Tool-less access to all system components for easy in rack serviceability;

o Expansion Slots: Three 64-bit PCI-X slots (2 available on SAS models), including two non-hot plug 100MHz slots and one non-hot plug 133MHz slot or optional PCI-X Hot-plug cage or Optional PCI Express Non-hot plug Cage (U320 SCSI Models only);

o Backplane: Optional dual channel drive backplane (2/4 split) for U320 SCSI models (Included in SCSI High Performance Models); optional dual channel drive backplane (2/4 split) (Included in High Performance Models);

o Floppy Drive: Optional floppy disk drive (Included in High Performance Models);

o CD-ROM/DVD Drive: 24X Max CD-ROM (High performance models include DVD-ROM drive);

o USB Ports: USB version 2.0 support, one front port/ two ports in the rear;

o Status Indicators: Front LEDs (show server status) and Unit Identification button/LED (for easy in rack server identification)


Recommend this product? Yes


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