HP has unveiled its latest portfolio of ProLiant server systems based on Intel’s upcoming Xeon E5v3 processor chips, and talked about its plans to lead the server market in future by adapting to the new IT challenges facing customers better than rivals can.
Set to be available in September, HP’s ninth generation (Gen 9) of ProLiant servers are based on Intel’s forthcoming Xeon E5-2600v3 processors, which have yet to be officially announced by Intel itself, but which are set to offer step up in performance along with better power efficiency and switch to DDR4 memory.
The ProLiant models getting a refresh with Intel’s new platform include the tower format ML350 and the rack-mount DL360 and DL380 systems, plus the BL460c blade server. Two new models, the DL160 and DL180, replace the current DL360e and DL380e as the entry-level rack systems.
HP is also set to make available new server tray module options for its Apollo 6000 and 8000 high performance computing (HPC) systems based on the Xeon E5-2600v3 chips. However, pricing and full technical specifications for the refreshed systems are not being disclosed before they are available.
With the ProLiant Gen 9 systems, HP is claiming some unique technology innovations that give it an edge over the competition. These include PCI Express workload accelerators, HP SmartCache and FlexFabric adapters to deliver improved performance, along with converged management tools across servers, storage and networking.
However, HP is looking out beyond the next generation of servers as it celebrates 25 years since the launch of the Compaq System Pro, regarded as the first purpose-built PC server, which is the antecedent of today’s ProLiant systems.
Iain Stephen, vice president for HP Servers in EMEA, said the server market is changing more rapidly than at any time since x86 servers were introduced, and that HP was seeking to “reimagine the server” and lead the way for the next 25 years.
“Technology is still the foundation for servers and the data centre, but usage models are becoming more critical. It’s how you deploy servers, how you optimise them for specific workloads that counts,” he said.
In fact, the requirement for standardised general-purpose servers is disappearing, Stephen claimed, with everything defined by the needs of the application, whether this is core business workloads, big data, mission critical applications, or cloud and virtualisation.
In this respect, HP is singing from the same hymn sheet as Intel itself, which has been pushing its vision of the software defined data centre (SDDC) for some time. Under this vision, everything inside the data centre, including compute, storage and network resources, can be configured and allocated automatically under software control in order to meet the changing demands of the workloads.
“The challenge is to define the platform to deliver the right compute resources at the right time to meet customer requirements,” Stephen said.
Part of what HP is aiming towards can be seen with its Moonshot server platform, which is aimed at quite specific applications and workloads.
HP believes that it can differentiate itself from rivals in the server market such as Dell, Cisco and IBM by moving to what it sees as the new era of IT, based around infrastructure that is converged, software-defined and cloud-ready, and workload-optimised.
Peter Schrady, vice president for HP Rack & Tower Servers Worldwide went as far as to claim that, “the competition is stuck in the traditional IT model,” while HP is set to deliver the “new style of IT”.
However, these are long term plans, and the firm has yet to detail how it expects to differentiate itself from rivals, especially when they are all essentially building products based on the same core technology.