Why I chose DL585’s for my storage server needs…

Ahh, the HP DL585.  The mid-size workhorse for many enterprises.  The venerable machines are now up to their 7th generation.  In the last 6 months, I have worked with two early generation DL585’s.  A G1 and a G2.  The machines offer gobs of internal bandwidth.  The G1 machine only had PCI-x and the G2 features a mix of both PCI-X and PCIe.  These machines bring back fond memories of my old days.  Working for HP does have some benefits.  Like, understanding the details of the machines and what and what they cannot do.

In December, I went through a process of replacing my old NFS based storage for VMware with Fiber Channel.  That went well, but I knew I could get even better performance.  Also, storage is easily the most intense service that I run.  It has killed several consumer and “enthusiast” motherboards.  The need to push a lot of I/O, 24/7 just burns those machines out.  In April I picked up a DL585G1 to replace my dual core E7600 setup.  Even though the DL585G1 has slower CPU’s (8 cores at 2.2 GHz AMD vs 2 @ 3.0 GHz Intel), the throughput increased by about 30%. That was using older, PCI-X QLogic fiber channel cards.

One drawback of the DL585G1 is that it is loud an puts out a lot of heat.  Not the best set up, even in a cold room.  So, I embarked to replace that trusty machine with a slightly newer DL585G2.  Still supported by HP, the DL585G2 is a great low-cost mid-range server.  The benefits are it is about 30% faster than the G2, has upgradable CPU’s to any AMD 8000 series CPU (including Quad Core Barcelona and Istanbul CPU’s).  It also runs very quiet and uses about 30% less power than the G1.  The gobs of throughput are still there as well.

Compared to the Dell and IBM systems, the DL585 is a steal.  Pricing for one of these systems was considerably less than the equivalent Intel server.  For someone on a smaller hardware budget, these systems are a great fit.  Are they going to out perform Sandy Bridge or Nehalem Xeons?  No, but if I had the money, that would be a different conversation.

For those searching on the web about AMD CPU’s and virtualization, the 800 series CPU’s from AMD DO support 64 bit virtualization on VMware.  The DL585G1 supports ESXi 4.1U1 just fine.