HP ProLiant DL180 G6 – Dual Intel Xeon 2U Storage Server Review
Today we are looking at the HP ProLiant DL180 G6 which is a dual Intel Xeon 5500 and 5600 series platform. Recently we looked at a second hand bargain for a SMB and home virtualization lab, the Dell C6100 XS23-TY3 which has become very popular. The HP ProLiantDL180 G6 is another low cost option. One of the most interesting aspects to the unit is that versions can be purchased for a few hundred dollars that can hold up to 14x 3.5″ hard drives in 2U of space for well under $600 including a HP P410 SAS controller and an onboard SAS expander.
The HP ProLiant DL180 G6 Overview
The HP ProLiant DL180 G6 is a lower-end HP server but it does pack some great features. First off, the servers can be found on ebay for about $550 with dual Intel Xeon L5630 processors (themselves worth around $200 each.) Often those do not come with drive sleds but these can be purchased for under $5 each. One other key aspect is that the server is a 2U server that can handle 14x 3.5″ hard drives. Note, the front of the chassis only has 12 drives (more on that later.)
Inside the HP ProLiant DL180 G6 one can see a host of higher-end features. The eight mid-plane fans are in a redundant configuration with one in front of the other. As one can see, there are four fans cooling the CPUs and memory that are hidden under an airflow duct. One other thing to note is that on the hot swap SAS/ SATA PCB there is a silver heatsink. This is a SAS expander chip which allows all 14 drive bays in the server to be driven from one SFF-8087 port. Note, the HP DL180 G6 is a 3.0gbps SAS server.
Inside the HP ProLiant DL180 G6 we can see two large copper and aluminum passive heatsinks over the dual LGA1366 Intel Xeon sockets. Each processor has six slots which can accept DDR3 UDIMMs or RDIMMs. Another interesting aspect is that the server came with a HP P410 RAID card. This connected with a SFF-8087 cable to the SAS expander in front. The SAS expander then has two 7-pin SATA/ SAS cables that attach to the rear drive hot swap PCB. This is important as one can easily connect the motherboard’s SATA connectors to the rear drives which may be advantageous for a virtualization platform.
Getting to 14x 3.5″ drives in a 2U chassis is impossible using only front facing storage. The HP ProLiant DL180 G6 utilizes two 3.5″ hot swap drives to the rear of the chassis. Underneath these is a large PCIe connector which in other models can accommodate a multi-slot PCIe riser. The HP DL180 G6 is a close cousin of some HP Lefthand storage controllers.
Speaking of high end features, the HP ProLiant DL180 G6 also has redundant 460w power supplies. Lower cost 1U servers like the Dell PowerEdge C1100 are single-PSU servers. One can also see dual Gigabit NICs and on this model a management port supporting Lights-Out 100 management. This is not to be confused with integrated Lights Out management or iLO used on today’s servers.
Another interesting feature in the above picture is that the server came with a tool to open virtually every screw on the chassis. If this is lost, expect to use a metric 10 size star shaped bit.
Overall, the HP DL180 G6 is a very interesting proposition for a small business or home virtualization lab. If one does not need the 32nm Intel Xeon L5630 processors ($200 on ebay) that come with many systems, replacing them with sub-$35 Intel Xeon L5520 CPUs can make this a very inexpensive storage platform. One of the most difficult aspects of the entire server setup is simply getting into Lights Out 100 management. Other than that, the sub-$600 prices that these are selling with, combined with the fact that they are coming with HP P410 RAID controllers (generally 256MB cache) and a SAS expander, make them a very interesting storage chassis. Some folks are already contemplating turning them into inexpensive iSCSI or CIFS enclosures for their Hyper-V or VMware ESXi labs.