HP Integrity rx2620-2 review
HP may have pulled out of its Itanium development partnership with Intel at the end of 2004, but the launch of its new family of Integrity servers shows clearly it intends to fulfil its three-year $3 billion investment commitment to the processor. The range now consists of three entry-level products, a pair of mid-range boxes and HP’s mighty Superdome systems, with the biggest of this trio supporting up to 128 processors.
The Integrity rx2620-2 on review stands in the middle of the entry-level group. Its 2U chassis brings together a pair of the latest 1.6GHz Itanium 2 modules kitted out with 6MB of Level 3 cache. The rx2620-2 doesn’t support the latest 9M processors with 9MB of Level 3 cache, as HP advised us that costs outweigh the performance benefits. However, it will be shipping a new version of this server next year that will support Intel’s dual-core Itanium 2 processors. The rx2620-2 will use Montecito, while the 1U rx1620 will employ the lower-cost Millington version. A glance over the rx2620-2 shows how slowly time moves in Itanium World, as this box is almost identical to the rx2600 we looked at over 18 months ago. The only significant change is that HP no longer offers the system in its workstation guise as the zx6000. In fact, since the launch of Intel’s EM64T and AMD’s AMD64 technologies, HP has dropped all workstations based on Itanium.
The rx2620-2’s build quality is exemplary; the chassis is made from thick pressed steel, as are the sturdy hot-swap carriers. Storage potential isn’t exciting, though. The front panel has room for only three hot-swap drives and HP offers up to 146GB Ultra320 models. However, capacity can be expanded externally, since the chassis has a SCSI port at the rear. Power fault tolerance is the main reason for the reduced storage potential in the rx2620-2, as although the plug sockets are at the rear the two hot-swap bays are located at the front. These are easily accessible – the front panel can be removed just by releasing a couple of plastic tabs at the side.
Server installation gets under way with the bundled Foundation Pack. This provides a Smart Setup disc for server configuration and loading your chosen OS. It automatically installs HP’s web services, allowing the server to be remotely accessed for general monitoring. You also get the benefit of HP’s Systems Insight Manager (SIM) 7.3, which provides enhanced browser-based remote management and monitoring, and offers high levels of information about system operations and extensive alerting facilities. You can remotely access any HP server with the Insight agent installed. There are also plenty of optional extras on offer, as you can add tools for vulnerability and patch management, BIOS and driver version control and performance monitoring and alerts.
Management features get even better. The rx2620-2 now receives the benefit of an embedded integrated lights-out (iLO) controller, which allows the server to be accessed securely via a browser regardless of its condition. The interface is easy to use. It allowed us to monitor the status of the controller and server, view installed components, access the iLO log and run diagnostics. Full access to power is also provided, so you can reset the server, power it off and on, and emulate pressing the power button.
Internal design is good, with most components shrouded in plastic air ducts. Cooling is handled extremely well, as both Itanium modules sit underneath active tower heatsinks equipped with fans, and the four large system fans are all hot-swappable. The server still uses HP’s zx1 chipset, which it co-developed with Agilent some years ago. Generally, there isn’t much difference between this and Intel’s E8870 chipset, with both offering similar features. Twelve DIMM sockets deliver a total memory capacity of 24MB, but modules must be installed in matched sets of four and the server still supports only PC2100 memory. Expansion options are good, as a removable cage holds four 64-bit PCI-X slots, with one occupied by an HP Smart Array RAID controller and battery backup pack.
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