HP ProLiant DL585 G5 Server

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The HP ProLiant DL585 G5 is a powerful server with a strong emphasis on reliability and serviceability that reduces overall device cost.

A high-end server really is an engineering marvel, comparable to the great buildings of the world. This marvellous machine manipulates massive quantities of data every single day. A good server will analyse your company's data as well as itself, to ensure it will continue to operate at full capacity 24 hours a day. Even the best equipment will fail eventually so designers paid close attention to making the repair process as efficient as possible.

Getting the HP ProLiant DL585 G5 up and running out of the box is a painless process. SmartStart CDs (for 32- and 64-bit Windows) in combination with the ROM Based Set-up Utility (RBSU) prepared the machine for the operating system installation. A great discovery was that no 3.5-inch floppies are used to set the RAID up! Select a few options and enter the Windows install key, SmartStart then requests a Windows install disc and completes the installation itself.

Good management does not stop with installation. There is also remote, web-based iLO management and the Systems Insight Manager allows central management of servers and other equipment. Optional packs also exist for server migration and virtual machine management.

It is attention to detail that keeps HP amongst the leaders. HP claims that its customers experience just one-tenth the downtime of the industry average. Examples of HP's attention to detail include things such as using shipping screws to ensure everything remains stable until it is delivered.

With the lid off, you can see the server's error display panel, allowing for quick diagnosis of hardware faults. Each fan, power supply and memory slot has its own fault LED. CPUs have two LEDs each (the second LED is for temperature). The minimum amount of cabling is also used, carefully laid to make servicing easy. CPUs and RAM are not visible with the lid off, but these are housed in a removable drawer accessed easily from the front of the machine.

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Redundant systems are critical to making servers reliable. This unit's redundant components include its fans, power supplies and even the ROM. Hot replacement can be performed on its hard drives, fans and power supplies. The fans (three pairs), span the full 4RU device providing effective straight-through cooling.

At the front are two USB ports, VGA socket and access to all the drives. Up to eight hot-replaceable SFF drives can be installed, the slimline DVD/CD-RW drive comes standard and an additional slimline bay (for a floppy drive) is available. At the rear is another VGA socket, two USB ports, two PS2 ports, a serial port, the iLO2 management port and two gigabit network ports. Inside the DL585 there are nine expansion slots (2x PCI-X and 7x PCI Express) with the ninth slot taken by the RAID controller, leaving eight free.

How we tested
After a subjective assessment of the native pre-installed operating system (if any), accompanying software and the hardware itself, MS Windows Server 2008 was installed in preparation for benchmarking. Test software used was Cinebench 9.5 and Intel Sungard 2.5. Power consumption is also measured.

The machine consumes a whopping 62.4W while powered down (of course, the machine would not be normally powered down) and 411W while idle. Our score for typical power consumption was 551W — a little high, but this is a powerful server. It would be good to see more energy efficient processors in high-end servers.

Benchmark Test Overall
Cinebench 1 CPU Render 72 seconds
16 CPU Render 10 seconds
Sungard 210 seconds

Benchmark test results highlight that this is a very powerful machine, but it is not the fastest in its price range ($32,820). A recent test of a Sun Fire server by the Enex TestLab discovered its benchmark scores were 50 per cent better (for a device roughly three quarters of the price).

But brute force is not everything. For IT managers, equipment running a little slower is less concerning than excessive and expensive downtime. High quality hardware and software engineering is important.

HP offers a range of service options to reduce management time. Available services include finance, system installation, integration and life-cycle management. HP prides itself on having excellent phone support for clients in addition to relatively simple maintenance that can often be done by the client.

The full on-site warranty including parts and labour is three years standard and includes a 90-day set-up support service. HP customer service offers support for Windows and some Linux-based systems as well as Solaris and VMware.