HP ProLiant MicroServer – Not Quite There Yet?

When HP announced their new ProLiant MicroServer, I really hoped that it would be the perfect answer to a specific use case I’ve been looking at lately.

Basically, what I’m looking for is a small chassis, low noise branch office server that would be used to host a single virtual machine, offering Read-Only Domain Controller (RODC) and Distributed File System (DFS) file-shares.

Initially it looked to fit the bill perfectly:

  • Small footprint; Check
  • Low Noise levels; Check

But, sadly, that’s where it stops. The first version of the HP ProLiant MicroServer comes with one CPU offering, namely theAMD Athlon II NEO N36L which isn’t all that much to run even a single-VM ESXi instance on.

The current tech spec page does not go into much details about the storage controller, other than it’s an “Integrated 4 port SATA RAID Storage Controller”, which makes it impossible to check for compatibility on the official VMware HCL.

The 1GbE NC107i NIC supplied with the server, seems to be supported by VMware though, at least according to the ProLiant option VMware support matrix.

I understand that HP created this server for a different use-case than the one I’m outlining here, and you can’t really criticize them for that, I just hope that this is just the first of several offerings from HP and that the next version comes with better CPU offerings.

A proper CPU would make this baby the perfect entry level, small footprint, low noise branch-office server.

Update: Simon Seagrave has posted as “somewhat” more verbose analysis of the HP ProLiant Microserver: New HP Proliant MicroServer – a decent vSphere lab server candidate?. His conclusion is pretty much the same as mine though; give us more CPU and a vSphere supported RAID controller and we’re all set. I couldn’t agree more.

4 Comments

  1. According to HP’s driver download page and the Windows Foundation on Microserver whitepaper available from HP.com the motherboard RAID is an AMD SB7xx/SB8xx – one of the “softRAID” (or, more disparagingly “fakeRAID”) chipsets.

    You could just get hardware RAID card (like a SmartArray) in a low-profile form-factor and disconnect the drive cage cable(s) from the motherboard connector(s) and hook them up to the card instead.

    :-)

  2. Hello all,

    I did combine the n36l microserver with a HP Smart Array p410 raid controller with 512MB cache (with battery)(controller price in the Netherlands is in or about 270 Euro (now already down to 250 euro)).
    The setup is combined with 2 x 4Gb Kingston memory and 2 x 300GB WD Velociraptors.
    I made 2 blog entries on installation and VMware ESXi installation.
    They can be found here:

    http://deludi.nl/blog/vbscript/various/various-how-to-build-a-decent-low-power-vmware-esxi-server-based-on-the-hp-n36l-microserver-and-the-hp-p410-raid-controller/

    http://deludi.nl/blog/vbscript/various/various-how-to-build-a-decent-low-power-vmware-esxi-server-based-on-the-hp-proliant-n36l-microserver-and-the-hp-p410-raid-controller-part-2/

    I will write a third entry on actually running the VM’s.
    If all works well the server will be a production server for one of my customers.

    Best regards,

    dirk adamsky

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