You may have read my previous blog post, covering an initial overview of the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8. I’m still very happy with the hardware as a whole, but had some issues in updating firmware using the Intelligent Provisioning OS. First, if you want to get the latest (at time of writing) version of Intelligent Provisioning 1.40, you can download a 921mb ISO of it it from here: hp.com
My home internet is rather slow, and I think this was the main issue with the firmware update process timing out. I decided to download an iso of all firmware for the server called HP Service Pack for ProLiant 2013.09.0 (B), which you can also download from here: hp.com – note you have to sign up for a hp account first, and the download is 2.9gb.
I was able to install Windows Server 2012 R2 using Intelligent Provisioning, which nicely installs all the required drivers without you having to think about it and that worked perfectly.
Getting the lid of the case off and on was very simple to do, just two thumb screws at the back lets you lift the entire sides and top off in one piece. You can access pretty much everything internally you need to at that stage due to the convenient design.
Next up, by default the server can take 4 x 3.5″ HDDS, and a 9.5mm CD/DVD drive. Luckily this means if you don’t need the CD/DVD drive, you can have an extra 2.5″ HDD as your OS install, leaving the other disks for your actual data. A good idea since you can use the remaining SATA port on the motherboard, but there’s no spare SATA power cable, as the CD/DVD drive uses the old style floppy disk power connector (as per the green arrow on the photo below). There’s a molex connection nearby (red arrow) so I pulled that through the gap, and added on a double adapter on the molex, then added a molex > sata adapter to finally get power to the extra hard drive.
When I had a drive in the first bay, the server decided that was the preferred boot device. To fix that, I changed the boot order to use the second SATA controller first, as it seems the spare SATA port on the motherboard is connected to that. The first controller goes to the first two HDD bays, and they run at 6Gb/s, compared to the 3Gb/s of the 3rd and 4th bays plus the separate onboard SATA port. This is worth keeping in mind for what drives and data you plan to configure.
As mentioned in the previous blog post, there is a MicroSD slot on the motherboard as well as an internal USB port – neither are useful for a Windows OS unless you’re using Windows To Go. The MicroSD is a bootable device, but also it’s handy as a swap drive or pagefile. Other OS’s that support running off a USB such as ESXi can be used too.
The hard drive bays aren’t hot swappable (unless you buy a separate RAID card, put that into the single empty PCIe 2.0 slot, and connect the drive bay to that instead), but that’s not really a problem anyway. They are quite easy to use, so at least when you have to add or remove a hard drive, you won’t have any physical complications.
For the RAM, I first tried a few sticks of NON-ECC DDR3 sticks, but the server wasn’t happy with those (one was even HP branded). After putting in the first ECC stick I could find, it worked and was bumped up to 4GB. I’m not planning on running VM’s off this thing, so that’s plenty for me.
On the switch side of things, the HP PS1810-8G is a nice fit. Resting on top, it moved ever so slightly when pushed down on so I decided to put it below the server instead, and it is now rock solid. It’s fanless, so you won’t hear it. It can also be powered by PoE, which isn’t very useful in a small business environment, but would be useful if you had an upstream PoE switch – which in that case, you wouldn’t have this MicroServer on top or below it. Regardless, there’s no harm in it being there 🙂 Either way, It runs at 7.2 W maximum, so it’s drawing even less power than many of the standard power saving compact fluro bulbs.
The web interface is plain but very useful with a decent amount of options.
Instead of running three separate network cables to the server, it is nice just to run one to the switch, then have three cables going up to both NIC ports and the iLO, which makes it much more self contained.
Over at GeekZone, Mauricio Freitas has also been playing with the HP server, and had a thread about it along with pictures. Worth having a look. I also found a thread at avforums.com which had more great info, and there seems to be a configuration consideration around trying to use the spare SATA port on board (used for the CD/DVD Drive) as a boot device when the HDD bays are fully populated. I agree with the fix of adding in a PCIe Sata controller, which will then let your extra hard drive be bootable. This in turn could allow you to attach an SSD to the 5th internal SATA port, and then with Windows Server 2012 R2’s tiering options you’d have a pretty decent HDD setup!
Pricing – there’s no RRP that I can find, but you’re looking around the $500 mark. Shop around of course.
So, it’s still a great bit of kit, but as with most things there’s a lot of considerations and adjustments to be made to make it fit exactly how you want – but that’s where the fun is.