About six months ago HP downgraded the hard disk size and length of warranty on the their HP Proliant range of ML110 and ML115 G5 servers. Where you used to have a 3 years warranty you now were given 1 year and the hard disk went from 250GB SATA to 160GB SATA as the standard offering.
Neither of these things were really a big deal though it does indicate that HP was trying to make savings on these great little entry level servers which would in many instances meet the requirements of many a small business. Another very popular application for them is for work or home IT test labs running VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V and the like.
The prices, as you are probably aware – at least here in the UK, for both these servers sporting server grade (Intel) Xeon or (AMD) Opteron CPUs have always been very reasonable (ie: <£250) which must have cut into some potential 300 series Proliant sales for HP. The good news is that there haven’t been any further reductions to the specification of either model of server since, though the purpose of this article is to make you aware that the stock here in the UK of HP Proliant ML110 G5’s seems to now predominantly consist of those ML110 G5’s with a desktop Intel Pentium Dual Core E2160 processor. The Xeon based ML110 G5’s are increasingly hard to buy new now which means one of two things.
Either HP are permanently downgrading the ML110 G5 to make further cost savings or they are trying to minimise the impact that these 100 series Proliants have on SMB 300 series Proliant sales. The second possibility is that they are offloading the last of the ML110 G5 stock to make way for a new G6 model. With the ML110 and ML115’s being some of the last remaining Proliant servers to receive a G6 make-over the latter option is highly likely though it’d be interesting to see what price-point and specification a new G6 model would have.
Where’s my VT?
At prices of approximately £160 the ML110 G5 models with the Intel E2160 processor still offer great value though you should be aware that this particular model of CPU, as opposed to the ML110 G5’s usual Xeon processor, does not have Intel’s Virtualization Technology (VT) on the die.
Below: Available CPU’s with the ML110 G5.
Below: Intel Virtualization Technology (VT) is not available on the Intel Pentium E2160 Processor.
So what does this mean?
Firstly for a description of what Intel VT provides to those of you wishing to run a hypervisor on the server see this overview from Intel here or check out this informative easy to follow article. Another worth while read is this VMware Forum thread that discusses why Intel CPU’s (64 bit) require VT to run a 64 bit VM where an AMD (64 bit) CPU does not need AMD-V.
If you are looking at running Microsoft Hyper-V on a server then one of it’s pre-requisites is that it have a 64 bit processor with Intel’s VT or AMD’s AMD-V onboard – it won’t allow you to install without this. This unfortunately rules out the ML110 G5 E2160 model.
VMware ESX 4 on the other hand requires that you have a 64 bit processor though it will still you allow you to install 32 bit VMs (ie: and not 64 bit) even if the CPU doesn’t have the virtualization extensions (VT or AMD-V). The E2160 CPU found in most ML110 G5’s being sold here in the UK have the EMT64 bit instructions onboard though no VT so you will be able to install and use VMware ESX 4 but only with 32 bit VMs and even then they will be running in a legacy binary mode – so for anything but lab use this wouldn’t be ideal due the potential reduction in performance.
How do I know if I have an HP ML110 G5 with an E2160 CPU?
Upon start-up go into the ‘Main’ screen of the BIOS and you will see the following in the ‘CPU Type’ and ‘CPU Speed’ fields:
As mentioned earlier in this article I consider the E2160 based HP Proliant ML110 G5 to still offer good value for money though if you want to run a hypervisor on it then you should maybe consider the AMD based HP Proliant ML115 G5 server which comes with a 64 bit Quad Core CPU, has AMD-V and is also VMware Fault Tolerance (FT) compatible.
The best deal I know of for an ML115 G5 Quad Core is still ServersPlus who have an attractive bundle deal (see the TechHead ‘HotDeals’ section for more details). Also, I was talking to ServersPlus the other day and they inform that they can ship worldwide – so with current poor strength of the English pound this may be a cost effective deal for those of you living outside of the UK.
I hope this article helped avoid any potential disappointments with a new HP Proliant ML110 G5 purchase and I will let you know should I hear anything about the release of a new G6 model.
As always I am keen to hear from you about your experiences with your HP Proliant home or work labs so why not leave a comment.