HP ProLiant ML370 G3: A very competent and high-performance enterprise-class system for large workgroups
The G3 in HP's ProLiant ML370 G3 means third generation. This is the third major release of the 5U, dual-processor workgroup server that is intended for workgroups with up to 500 users. It provides a great deal of value for workgroups that require lots of horsepower or that need to leave room for expansion as the group grows. Among its strengths are major enterprise-caliber redundancy features such as hot-swappable redundant fans and power supplies and hot-spare memory.
Improvements over the last generation of the ML370 include support for two 2.4 to 2.8 GHz Xeon processors with a five-peer PCI-X bus architecture with a 400 MHz front side bus, up from a 1.4 GHz PIII processor, the ServerWorks GC LE chipset, instead of the Serverworks SE HL chipset, a maximum of 12 GB of PC2100 interleaved RAM instead of 6 GB, with 512 MB standard instead of 256 MB, six 64-bit/100 MHz PCI-X slots instead of two, a 64-bit/66 MHz hot plug, and four 64-bit/33 MHz slots.
There's also an integrated lights-out management interface, which was an option with the G2. The G3 features an integrated dual-channel Wide Ultra160 SCSI controller -- while the G2 version had an embedded RAID option, getting RAID with the G3 requires a separate card, using one slot. The G3 adds a 10/100/1000 Ethernet adapter, instead of the G2's 10/100 NIC.
Features carried over from the G2 include a 1+1 power supply option, online spare memory, hot plug fans with optional redundancy, redundant ROMs, and a remote ROM flash capability.
Four of the 10 total bays in the ML 370 can be used for removable media drives, two can be used for the floppy and CD, and six bays are for hard disks. You can also add two additional hard drives with an optional two-bay hard drive cage that fits into the two open slots in the removable media drive cage.
The configuration we received for review included two 2.8GHz processors, 1 GB of RAM, the SA5302/128-RAID controller with four 18GB 15K SCSI drives in a RAID 5 configuration, Windows 2000 Server, and Insight Manager 7.
Its CPU benchmark score was slightly higher than the last four-way 1.6 GHz Xeon system we tested, which didn't have Intel's HyperThreading or NetBurst architecture. This disk subsystem, with four disks in a RAID 5 array, sustained 56.57 Mbytes/sec of throughput, and 9536 I/Os/sec -- an admirable number.
However, performance is only part of story with the ML370 G3. The management features available from the integrated lights-out (iLO) processor and the Insite Manager software enable complete remote management of the system (even from off-site); the server comes in an exceptionally well-designed chassis; and it offers support for RedHat and SuSE Linux, and NetWare in addition to the standard Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server.
The iLO processor with an optional advanced pack provides a secure HTTP server that enables browser-based access to both software and hardware (reset, reboot, and power on/off). The Insight Manager 7 (SP1) software provides enterprise-class management features that include inventory, remote driver and software installation, upgrades and version control, remote ROM upgrades, predictive notification of potential failures, automatic discovery and inventory of new servers, hardware and software, solid reporting, e-mail and pager support, and access to system logs.
The Proliant Essentials Deployment pack comes with scripts to configure hardware unattended and install the operating system, as well as utilities such as the Insight manager. It also has free integration modules for Tivoli, HP OpenView, CA management software, and Microsoft SMS and MOM servers. Insight manager supports all versions of Linux, OS/2, NetWare, and SCO Unix.
The chassis on the ML 370 is newly redesigned, with tool-free access to all parts, including hold-downs for PCI cards. Any service event should be possible in less than 15 minutes. Removing and replacing the redundant power supplies has been improved from the previous version, and the rails are improved as well. Diagnostic LEDs -- a front problem light indicator -- and internal LEDs are on each system module to pinpoint problems. The CD rotates for rack mounting or tower configuration.
Not only does the system come with redundant ROMs, but it can also revert to the last working ROM after an update, if the new ROM fails to function.
Pros: High performance;
Enterprise-class management and remote administration features;
Excellent redundancy features;
Cons: Similar performance can be had for less, albeit without the management functionality and excellent design