HPE has a new server built around the Ampere Altra/ Altra Max. The HPE ProLiant RL300 is the company’s most recent foray into the Arm server market. HPE was actually a leader in the Arm server market at one point and is now looking to get back in with a modest server.
HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen11 Launched
The new HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen11 is an Ampere Altra / Altra Max-based server although it does not focus on that fact in its main overview slide. Instead, it focuses on the fact that it can scale to 128 cores.
From a form factor perspective, the new ProLiant RL300 is a 1U server. It also takes branding from the HPE ProLiant 11th generation.
Here is the front, and it appears as though HPE is highlighting its 10x 2.5″ implementation, but this is not an E.3 EDSFF implementation. We were hoping on a forward-looking Arm server HPE would focus its efforts on emerging technology trends. Instead, it is being pictured with low capacity 960GB 2.5″ SAS SSDs, a decidedly dated storage solution. Again, we are hoping that this is just what HPE picked for the renders.
At the rear of the system we see the management iLO port, two USB 3, serial, and VGA ports. There is also a redundant power supply option. While there are no onboard NICs, there are two risers that appear ready for full-height cards. There are also two OCP NIC 3.0 slots.
Zooming into the CPU, we can see that we get a full 8-channel memory and two DIMMs per channel. This is the full set for Ampere’s current generation parts.
On the right side, we can see the iLO chip displayed while most of the motherboard is being shown without other components. Just above that iLO chip is the OCP NIC 3.0 connector.
Something else that seemed notable is that the server has what appears to be an Internal M.2 boot option. This is the assembly at the top of the below photo.
Of course, this is a single socket server while other vendors have been out with dual socket Ampere servers for some time. Still, it is important that HPE is getting into the market.
Taking a step back for context. HPE was a leader in the Arm server space when it pioneered things like Arm sleds in the HPE Moonshot (see our reference thread here.) The reason then was that certain companies (e.g. Zynga) needed lower performance and low-cost cores. Those same forces are driving the Ampere Altra (up to 80 cores) and Altra Max (up to 128 cores) today.
HPE’s design is available in Q3, which is relatively soon. It is also late in the Altra and Altra Max product cycles, especially for a Gen11 system. HPE will likely have Gen11 with PCIe Gen5 but then have the RL300 as a Gen11 system with older generation features. Our sense is that this type of server is what we would expect customers who are building out installations similar to a lot of the dedicated server farms would use. In those markets, we typically see single-socket 1U servers. These are not the big virtualization platforms we would typically see as dual-socket servers.
Still, HPE re-entering the Arm server market is a big deal for the industry. It is signaling that it takes the private cloud seriously and is trying to offer an alternative to AWS Graviton and Arm offerings (using Ampere) from Microsoft, Oracle, and others.