HP Gen 8 Servers – An onsite deep dive part 1


Follow along as I live blog on the HP Gen 8 server deep dive.  I am joining a group of other bloggers in Houston for the next two days to see everything from the new marketing strategy to the firmware update process to a deep dive.

First Up: Jim Ganthier, HP Vice President Marketing, Operations and  GM Mainstream Business Enterprise

“Don’t think of HP as individual components, think of them as Lego blocks that can build what no one else can deliver”

HP is looking to change the server industry in 100 days, by starting with Project Moonshot in Novenber of 2011, high performance servers get changed.. Then Project Odyssey at the end of November, and the last in Project Voyager.  A goal to change the way server admins manage systems and transform the basic abilities of server administration.  Voyager was deployed in Feb. looks to change multiple things, including:

  • Manual Operations cost companies on average $24 million over three years
  • Manual facility optimization drives up energy costs up to $29 million over three years
  • Unplanned downtime cost clients approximately $10 million an hour.

Project Voyager = Proliant Gen8 servers publicly.  The goal is the world’s most self sufficient servers.  The first addition discussed is the Proactive Insight Architecture.  The results of intelligence and automation include:

  • 3x Admin productivity improvement
  • 6x Performance for the most demanding workloads
  • 70% more compute per watt
  • 66% faster time to problem resolution

“Dont think of Project Voyager as just the Gen 8 servers but think of it as a solutions, service and datacenter…many of the solutions and benefits can result in less than a 5 month ROI.” This gives admins 30 more days a year to innovate for your business

Topic: Transforming  the server experience with customer -inspired innovations

Presenter: Gary Thome

Being the largest server vendor in the world gives HP the benefit of also talking to the most customers.  It allows HP to collect data on the inhibitors and barriers the users face to shift and form the R&D strategy.  Gen 8 was a $300 million R&D investment.

The goal is to make the server part of the datacenter not just a component.  Finding out information like is this server running hot or is the datacenter near it hot is not available in todays servers.  The Gen8 adds this intelligence.  It also adds functionality to integrate support and move it from a manual process to an automated one.  On the motherboard there is a sea of sensors, along with the active health system, that logs and runs policies against the equipment.

HP System Update Manager is designed to fix the industry wide issue of firmware updates.  It provides update checking and dependency checks all within one tool, including testing dependencies and firmware that will fail if ran together.  It will even tell you when you need reboots. Over 1600 points on the server are monitored at any given time.

The growth of SSD allows for 100x the storage performance from the Gen7 systems.  HP not has caching mechanism with SSD backed DRAM.  There is also a new algorithm to allow for multiple VMs that provide random writes to a smart array to be reorders to allow each VM to write sequentially.  More on this later…

The next step of growth is for the datacenter.  HP now has intelligent PDU to not only monitor per server but throughout the datacenter.  Location services are also added.  One key add on is the ability to tell you if you power both power supplies into a single leg and have no redundant power.  The location based section will utilize a location sensor that can be added to a rack and a sensor in the rail kit.  More later on what racks this can be added to.  It is know that many places will not replace all racks just o use Gen 8 servers.

Some new additions are inspired by customer.  First is a smart socket guide built in conjunction with Intel.  Allows for proper CPU install without causing motherboard failures.  Traditional CPU on the left.  Smart Socket on the Right







The second would be the Smart drive do-not-remove indicator.  When a drive is in a state that it should not be removed because it is a single component of a RAID set that is active then the light will remind you not to pull the drive.

Intel and HP: Partnering to drive perfromance and architecture innovations

Presenter: Keith Kirkendall : Intel Senior Applications Engineer


Intel places people similar to Keith with the major vendors to work on direct integration with the major manufacturers.  The release of the Xeon e5 is the latest release included in the server processor family.  Enhancements include almost doubling the system IO on the motherboard, by integrating PCie onto the motherboard along with other enhancements. An 80% increase in floating point calculations.  There is a 50% improvement is power management with the e5.






HP Transforming the Server Market

Presenter: John Gromala, Director IIS Blades to Cloud

Focusing on embedded management inovations that are intended to improve the lifecycle of the servers.   One of those issues is the firmware update process.  This process according to customers was the most time intensive component of server management.  A three phase circular process from HP allows to help with these issues.  Intelligent Provisioning to Smart Update to Active Health monitoring.  All of it is based on the upgrade to the iLO management engine.

Intelligent Provisioning HP Active Health HP Smart Update
3x faster system deployment with HP Smart Update Analyzes over 1600 system parameters 3x faster update process
Smarter startup in 3 secs. Proactively finds and fixes problems 69% reduction in operator time
5x faster to start the problem analysis

The biggest change in the firmware process is solution based deployment and testing.  Service pack releases are tested fully integrated.  You can now set different updates depending on your own server separation.  You can change timing as well as which updates get applied depending on the groups you assign.

Firmware Update Process – Old to New:







HP is the first in the industry to not only add AD integrated firmware decisions, but also allows you full rollback and downgrade of both drivers and firmware.  Although it is not currently supported on Virtual Connect drivers.During the installs you can schedule some updates, as well as provide the following reports:

  • Inventory Selections
  • Target Firmware Details
  • Target Installable Details
  • Failed Dependency Details
  • Installed Details
Each report can be viewed as HTML and XML to import directly into CMDB .
Demo of the mobile app for both Android and iOS.  Allows remote console and system management from tablets and smartphones.
or Android..

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