HP ProLiant DL580 G5 review

£11779
Price when reviewed

Balance in the quad-core MP processor market looks to be tipping in Intel’s favour – we’re seeing far more products in the Labs equipped with its Xeon 7300 series than AMD’s ‘Barcelona’ Opteron.

HP now tips the scales further with the launch of the ProLiant DL580 G5, which delivers a classy specification in a completely redesigned chassis.

In the DL580 G4 model, the front panel was home to a pair of massive hot-plug power supplies, but these have been replaced with a bay at the rear that comes equipped with four compact 1,200W hot-plug supplies.

This has freed space at the front: first up is the full-width drawer at the base, which contains a separate motherboard holding the processors and memory.

The unit can be swiftly removed: pressing the clip at the top releases a large handle. Locking plates on both sides of the drawer stop the unit falling out and with these depressed the drawer can be slid out.

The processors and memory are protected by a single cover that can easily be removed and underneath you’ll find each processor topped off with a heatsink and accompanied by four DIMM sockets located behind.

The system came with 8GB installed but this can be expanded to 128GB. To achieve this you fit memory expander cards that increase the total slot count to 32.

HP’s asking price looks good because this includes a quartet of high-end Xeon X7350 quad-core processors running at 2.93GHz. The price to pay for the higher performance is a TDP of 130W compared with 80W for the majority of this family.

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The front panel offers a standard 5.25in device bay and above this is a DVD-ROM drive and HP’s Systems Insight Display. This nifty little pop-out panel offers a complete status display on all critical components so you can see at a glance what has failed.

Standard storage options look good – you have a large hot-swap bay to the right that accommodates up to eight SFF SAS/SATA hard disks. There’s still more room to grow because the blanking plate in the centre can be replaced with a second eight-disk drive bay.

You’ll need to add an additional RAID card to connect the backplane but this does give the DL580 G5 one of the highest internal storage densities of all currently available 4U Xeon MP servers.

The chassis is endowed with six large 12cm diameter hot-swap fans arranged in three pairs across its width and we found noise levels commendably low. Expansion options are quite remarkable as a daughter card at the rear offers eight PCI Express slots and there’s room at the side to fit an option card with three extra PCI Express 8x or PCI-X slots.

A vertically mounted board to the right looks after the embedded RAID controller and presents network, video, serial, USB and PS/2 ports to the rear panel. The network connection is handled by a pair of embedded Broadcom gigabit controllers that include a TOE (TCP offload engine) for improving iSCSI operations.

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Compared with the majority of IBM’s System xSeries servers, HP’s RAID options are far superior. IBM generally starts with 32MB of cache and support for stripes and mirrors; the DL580 delivers the full monty. You get 512MB of cache, a battery backup pack and support for all key array types including RAID6.

To test power consumption we connected the server’s four supplies to our in-line power meter where it registered 362W in idle. The high TDP of the processors really made its presence felt when SiSoft Sandra pushed all 16 cores to above 90% utilisation as this increased to an eye-watering peak of 690W.

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