HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Review

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HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Storage

Storage on the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 is SATA III 6.0gbps. In this class of server, where low power operation is key, as is keeping costs down, this makes sense. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely anyone will use dual-port capabilities of SAS devices in a MicroServer Gen10.

Storage is provided using two headers. The first is a 7-pin standard SATA header. The second is via an SFF-8087 header which provides four ports. SFF-8087 is commonly used for SAS, but here it is a SATA only affair.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Storage SATA And SFF 8087
HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Storage SATA And SFF 8087

The controller situation is that the SATA controllers come via AMD and Marvell. The 7-pin SATA connector uses the AMD SATA controller data path. The SFF-8087 header utilizes the Marvell 88SE9230 header.

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD] FCH SATA Controller
Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88SE9230 PCIe SATA 6Gb/s Controller

This Marvell 88SE9230 will support RAID 1 as an example, but it does not have a power loss protected write cache so we would not want to run RAID 5 on it.

The actual drive bays themselves are unique as well. One removes the front bezel and there are four 3.5″ bays.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Storage Cold Swap Bays
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Storage Cold Swap Bays

Drives slide into place along guide rails and have a latch that secures the drives in place.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Storage Tab
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Storage Tab

These 3.5″ bays utilize guide pegs that screw into hard drives. HPE has a smart system whereby the guide pegs are screwed into the chassis above the hard drive bays. For edge servers, that is a great idea.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 HDD Screws T15
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 HDD Screws T15

Total physical installation time for a drive is generally around a minute. You will want a T15 bit to install the guide pegs. We would have preferred either a Philips head design. In the absence of that, it would have been nice to see “T15” printed next to the “HDD Screws” label.

We should note here that the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 is not a hot-swap system. At the rear of the 3.5″ bays, one can see the drive connectors.

HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 Storage Cold Swap Bay Cables
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Storage Cold Swap Bay Cables

These connectors are the ends of cables with power daisy chained across. Each connector is screwed into the chassis. This must be a marginally less expensive solution than utilizing a standard PCB to deliver power and data connectivity to drives. The PCB still needs power and data connectivity, along with testing to ensure that the power and data pins are correct lengths for hot swap. Still, this is a feature we would have liked to have seen in the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10.

Test Configuration

Our HPE ProLiant Microserver Gen10 featured the AMD Opteron X3421 APU. The part is the higher-end part that you can get in this series and in the Microserver Gen10 and we are not aware of other easy-to-order systems with these processors.

  • System: HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10
  • APU: AMD Opteron X3421
  • RAM: 2x 8GB DDR4-2400
  • Networking PCIe: Intel X520-da2 dual SFP+ 10GbE
  • OS SSD: Intel DC S3700 400GB
  • Storage HDDs: 4x Western Digital Red 10TB
  • OS: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (HWE Kernel), Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, CentOS 7.5-1804, Proxmox VE 5.3

Unlike previous MicroServer generations, this is not a socketed part. Instead, you need to order the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 with the APU you want to use.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Front
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Front

We added a 2.5″ SSD where the optical drive would go. This required adding a power cable and a SATA cable. We wish that HPE would pre-wire this. Luckily, we have a lab full of parts so this was easy to do.

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Topology

As part of our review, we show the topology of servers. This is more pertinent on the larger server side. Here is what our system came configured with:

HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 X3421 Topology
HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 X3421 Topology

As one can see, this is a fairly simple SoC design. AMD is blazing ahead with multi-chip packages in higher-end parts above the Opteron X3000 and AMD EPYC 3251 segment. Here, things are relatively simple.

Next, we wanted to talk management and BIOS for the HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Aesthetics
8.9
Performance
8.9
Feature Set
8.8
Value
9.5
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Patrick has been running STH since 2009 and covers a wide variety of SME, SMB, and SOHO IT topics. Patrick is a consultant in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about server, storage and networking, building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

9 COMMENTS

  1. That conclusion is really insightful. If you want multiple low cost servers with hard drives for clustered storage, this is a really good platform. If you just want more power, I keep buying up into the ML110 G10 because that’s so much more powerful. It’s also larger so sometimes you can’t afford the space.

  2. Finally, an honest review that actually shows cons as well was what’s good.

    We use MSG10s at our branch offices. They’re great, but servicing them sucks. We’ve been training finance people to do the physical service on the MSG10s.

    One issue you didn’t bring up is that there’s a lock for the front to secure all the drives. We had one where it wasn’t locked, employee flipped the lock and ended breaking the bezel.

    I hope you guys do more ProLiant reviews. They need a site with technical depth and business sense reviewing their products not just getting lame 5 paragraph “it’s great” reviews.

    To anyone not using the MSG10, they do have downsides, but they’re cheap so you have to expect that it isn’t a Rolls Royce at a KIA price tag

  3. It’s too bad this doesn’t have dual x8 PCIe. It also needs 10G. This is 2019. To get 10G or 25G you’ve gotta burn the x8 which leaves you with only a x1 slot left. Can’t do much with that.

  4. What about the virtualization capabilities? In your article on the APU, your lscpu output reported AMD-V. It would be nice to know if it’s fully implemented in BIOS and if there are reasonable IOMMU groups. Also, Intel consumer/entry level processors lack Access Control Services support on the processors PCIe root ports, so would be nice to see what this AMD APU offers.

    Why do I care? Because it would be nice to have a dedicated VM running less trusted graphical applications for digital signage. In a home office use case, one could use virtualization to combine a Linux NAS and a Kodi HTPC on the same hardware. Exposing the Kodi VM instead of the server OS to your family might have advantages.

  5. Like the others small HPE ProLiant MicroServers in the past, an attractive looking little box. I wish it were possible to install an externally accessible SFF x8 mobile rack such as a Supermicro CSE-M28SAB and the motherboard had x2 SFF 8087 ports or better M28SACB and 8643, thus could have x2 RAID 10 volumes.

  6. Well, I suppose you could put a ZOTAC GT 710 1GB graphics card in the spare slot, as it is a purpose-built PCIe x1 card. Marginally better than the iGPU if you have the need, and handy to keep around if your onboard graphics quits working on a server and a small x1 slot is all you have left to work with.

  7. It is a very good system, I got two with the dual core APU and 16G memory. It is possible to use the PCIe slt for an SSD card as well, I have an intel i750 that fits inside and works fine. I reckon that a couple of modifications to a future design could really make it quite good.

    Running latest version of Solaris on this works a treat hosting files over NFS.

  8. The price of these just doesn’t justify the performance. I have an older model I was able to pick up for a great price (NEW) and works great for very small stuffs, but choked when I attempted a large ZFS Freenas setup.

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