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HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 - Function

ACROFAN=Yong-Man Kwon | Published : Sunday, August 20, 2017, 7:10 pm
Even if not thinking about 'edge computing', the servers and storage closest to users in the age of being connect to the Internet at all times are providing much convenience. Particularly, Network-Attached Storage (NAS), which is widely used, conveniently provides the shared storage function and some services satisfactorily, and is largely replacing the role of 'remote server' in the enterprise environment.

HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise) ProLiant MicroServer is at the unique position of covering each other's inconvenience between NAS and traditional servers. Having a unique computing platform with low-power high efficiency and high reliability to a small chassis, the composition that allows to easily utilize four hard drives has been gaining popularity to people finding for storage-centric small server, which can be used in the spaces like homes or small offices without burdens. Especially, the previous generation, 'MicroServer Gen8', provided a powerful remote management through iLO controller and presented the appearance of an enterprise-level.

'HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10' has a configuration with enhanced functionality as a versatile system in homes and small offices, as well as maintaining the existing advantages such as form factor and reliability. Based on a server-class platform using the AMD Opteron APU, MicroServer Gen10 can be used in a variety of forms in homes and offices with a practical graphic performance not found in previous generations. The built-in 'ClearOS' also provides an environment for remotely configuring and utilizing this server as a NAS.

▲ The front bezel is composed of plastic, but adding visual interest on high-glossy material.

▲ In the rear, you can find out the DisplayPort connectors that were unexpected in previous generations.

The appearance became simpler than the previous Gen8. If previous generations had configured the front bezel with a separate door for the drive bay, this generation’s front bezel would be a simple configuration that would open entirely in the form of a door. You can also use ODD or SATA SSD on the media bay of the slim ODD form factor, accessible from the front bezel. It also has a lock on the front bezel, which helps prevent problems with the bezel separation.

Behind the front bezel, you can find the drive bay which is simplified from the structure itself. This generation’s drive bay configuration provides basic maintenance functions in the simplest form than previous generations. In case of installing hard drive, it is enough to push the screw of the hard drive into the rail after assembling the screw hole at the edge of the drive with a screw in the case. For installing the hard drive, it is enough to push the drive with aligned to rail and screws on the edge of the drive. Although it does not offer advanced features such as hot plug, basic maintainability retains its advantages over previous generations.

In the rear configuration, you can see a slightly different character from the previous generation. There are four USB ports, two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0. It also has two Ethernet ports that support gigabit connection, which can be used in a variety of forms. Meanwhile, the most noticeable part of this generation is the two DisplayPort(DP) 1.2 ports, making it possible to take advantage of 4K resolution and dual monitor configurations based on the APU built-in graphics core. In addition, two PCIe slots can be used externally and are suitable for expansion of RAID controllers or network adapters.

▲ Mainboards are easily removable for maintenance.

▲ Maximum TDP 35W Opteron X3000 Series APU is configured in passive cooling form.

▲ The back of mainboard’s expansion slot is open, so you can use any LP-sized card.

The mainboard is configured in a sliding manner on the chassis, which can be easily removed by unscrewing one of the rear screws and disconnecting the inner cables. It is also noticeable that the memory expansion or cabling is placed on both edges, so that the mainboard does not need to be removed except replacing the processor or installing a PCIe card. System cooling is resolved by on large fan on the back and a small fan on the power supply, which in most cases produces little noise.

The HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 is based on AMD’s Opteron X3000 series APU with a maximum TDP of 35W similar to previous generations. This APU is an Excavator-based server APU used in Carrizo APU, not the current Zen architecture, and it has built-in dual or quad compute core and third generation GCN-based GPU. The cooling of the processor is configured in passive form and it does not cause noise.

Memory uses up to two PC4-2400T DDR4 UDIMMs supporting ECC for reliability of the server, with a maximum configurable capacity of 32GB. PCIe 3.0 slots for expansion are available with one x1 and one x8 and there is no problem even for installing x16 card. If you have an LP-sized card with an installing space, you can take advantage of a separate RAID controller option or even install a separate graphics card.

▲ Bays which supporting four 3.5-inch SATA has a simple structure that is functional and easy to use.

▲ The storage controller is equipped with a separate Marvell SATA3 controller.

The primary storage configuration and key feature of the MicroServer Gen10 are the existence of drive bays that can accommodate up to four 3.5-inch LFF SATA hard drives. The drive bays of this generation can be easily mounted and removed by assembling screws to the hard drive and using it as a guide for the rails, without a separate tray. This provides an advantage that it is simple in structure and convenient in use. Of course, the screws used in this system are commonly used ‘star screws’ and it is a good idea to prepare star-shaped driver as there is no separate tool available.

The unique feature of this generation of MicroServer Gen10 is that it uses a separate storage controller rather than a built-in platform. The storage controller uses Marvell’s 88SE9230 SATA 6Gbps controller which provides four SATA 6Gbps ports and RAID 0, 1, 10, and using PCIe 2.0 x2 lanes. This controller has already been used in various mainboards and NAS. The maximum capacity that can be officially configured is 16TB with four 4TB drives.

This system uses Broadcom’s BCM5720 dual port Gigabit controller for network connection that has been widely used in servers. It supports two Gigabit Ethernet and can be configured as a separate connection depending on the operating system and driver configuration, or can be used for connection redundancy. On the other hand, the capacity of the power supply is about 200W which is slightly larger than the previous generation, and considering the system configuration, there is enough capacity in terms of capacity.

▲ Gen10 enhances graphics performance and has two display port outputs.

As the HPE ProLiant MicroServer has moved to Gen10, the character of the system configuration has also changed slightly. In the previous Gen8 had the same features as a full-fledged server, the Gen10 is closer to a PC-based system. The biggest part of this is the lack of robust remote management capabilities provided by iLO and the addition of two display ports that support a relatively powerful graphics core and high-quality display output.

The built-in third-generation GCN-based graphics core built into the Opteron X3000 series APU features practical capabilities that can be used from everyday PCs to everyday tasks, multimedia, and even gaming. If the previous generation of graphics cores were only for “screen output” such as initial setup, this generation could be used enough as a media player in home living room.

In particular, the two DisplayPort terminals allow for a more versatile use of the features of the APU of the MicroServer Gen10. It is not only a silent server, but also a storage-oriented PC that can be used as a server if necessary. Of course, in order to take full advantage of these graphics-related functions, you need to use Windows for general users, not Linux or Window servers. And the following parts to be desired are also a part that the user should worry about.

▲ The OS provided by this MicroServer Gen10 is ‘ClearOS’

With the removal iLO in Gen10, there are also some parts where the initial configuration process is closer to PC. Since there is no remote control function provided by iLO, the initial setting must be performed locally, and the initial setting of the operating system must also proceed directly. However, the installation process is not so difficult and the drivers you need to install will vary depending on the operating system, but not many. Especially for Red Hat Linux distributions, there is nothing to be desired after installation.

With the release of iLO, the choice of operating systems has expanded considerably in terms of system configuration and firmware features. Not only the most common Red Hat based Linux distributions such as CentOS, but also the latest generation of Windows operating systems, you can choose case by case, and HPE also provides proprietary project, ‘ClearOS’ in bundles based on Red Hat Linux distributions. In fact, this is not a wider choice of operating system, but rather a suggestion of the recommended operating system is missing.

Choosing an operating system may change depending on what features of this system are used. If the role of the traditional server focuses on storage, the most familiar Linux distribution would be a safe option. The choice of Windows 10 for general users is also possible for the multimedia functions of DisplayPort and graphics core. Or you can utilize virtualization such as VMware ESXi, and ClearOs and FreeNAS can also be used to remotely use functions comparable to commercial NAS and servers.

▲ Easy to use ClearOS with powerful web-based interface

ClearOS, which HPE provides as a basic composition in this MicroServer Gen10, is one of a Linux distribution with the characteristics of Red Hat. It is equipped with a web interface based configuration, management, and a marketplace for find and use various applications easily. In addition to the community editions that are currently available for free, there are ‘home’ and ‘business’ editions for paid, allowing you to apply licenses through a single distribution.

ClearOS is preloaded with installed hard drive specifications so users can choose whether to keep or remove them. Reorganization and re-installation can be easily done through the menu. Of course, you can download it from the homepage. After installing the basic package, you can only configure the network interface locally, and only the address that can be accessed through the web management screen appears on the screen. In other words, when the initial installation is finished, there is very little you can do locally.

Web management tools are well-designed for organizing and utilizing features, and you can find various services in marketplaces for configuring apps. Among them, you can find what you need and install it. In addition to basic shared storage and media services, it is also possible to configure the server for VPN/firewall/router configuration and simple services. Besides, you can connect repositories of Red Hat-based distributions and use them, so various configurations are available other than predefined marketplace packages.

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