HP Proliant ML350 SUSE Linux 10 Benchmarks

and setup notes! 

HP Proliant ML350 running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10

HP has taken great steps to become more linux compatible and aware in recent years.  Just about all of their servers are Novell certified as well as support for RedHat (amongst Windows and Unix flavors).  We'll see how well supported Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server version 10 is on the ML350 as well as some benchmarks of the new Intel Xeon 5100-sequence processor. 

 

Briefly, the configuration of our test server is listed below:

HP Proliant ML350 G5 as a tower
HP Part Number:  419521-005  HP QuickSpecs page
Two dual-core 5130 sequence Xeon processors (2.0GHz) 1333MHz front side bus, 4MB cache
4GB PC2-5300/DDR2-667 RAM fully buffered DIMMs (2x2GB)
SmartArray E200i SAS controller (BBWC 128MB) with 6x72GB SAS 15K LFF hot swap hard drives
PATA CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive
USB 2.0, two front, two rear, two internal
Integrated Lights-Out 2 Standard
ATI ES1000 16MB integrated video  (1600x1200 max)

Stock HP photo of ML350 family servers 

Server Hardware:

HP's fifth generation ML350 is a sturdy machine with a lot of potential.  Displaying their current black and dark gray scheme, the full vents across the locking front door of the machine give it a cool cool.  The side panel has their traditional lever to release it easily.  The hot swap drive cage is on the lower part of the front panel, removable storage above and the power button, UID, and other indicator lights to the left.

One new item to note, the Xeon 5100 processor has a slightly different installation.  Instead of the pins being on the bottom of the CPU itself, the bottom is now smooth and the pins are in the socket on the motherboard.  You snap the processor into the socket and then close the lever and attach the heat sink.

 

Hardware Perparation:

We popped the side off and installed our RAM chips and second Xeon processor.  The inside of the panel has a great diagram listing where all the connectors, sockets, and indicators are and what they do.  The hard drives slid in the front drive bays without issue as well, using their locking lever to keep them in place.  We also installed a PCI-X U320 SCSI card for a future tape drive.

 

OS Installation: 

We always start a HP server by running the HP SmartStart CD.  It has RAID array configuration and other server configuration programs.  If you are running a Windows or NetWare operating system, SmartStart can perform the installation for you including all the drivers.  Unfortunately, there are no Linux flavors supported for this type of hands-off installation.  We went ahead and configured three RAID 1+0 containers (each using 2 of our 72GB drives) and then exited SmartStart.

So we rebooted and inserted the SLES10 evaluation DVD and choose Installation.  We chose a fairly default installation, including kernel source and our time zone.  It took about 15-20 minutes for the installation.


First Boot:

Booting up after installation was smooth.  All vital hardware was detected properly and drivers installed and were working.  Network card, video card, disk drives on the RAID card, all looked good. It seems with just the installation media you can have a fully functioning server with no extra work.  That's great news for non-technical people getting into Linux.  Setting up a basic working server is a snap.
 

Customization: 

That all being said, HP provides many optional programs for Linux platforms for download from their web site to utilize other proprietary features.   The Proliant Support Pack (see below) includes a 100MB file that has all the utilities and management programs you could need.  It does compile some of its applications into the kernel, so you need kernel source installed.  

HP Proliant Support Pack installation screen

Benchmarks:

We ran two seperate sets of tests.  One was run on a bare installation of SLES10, no updates or HP utilities installed.  This should give an idea of the state of the drivers that come from Novell.

The second set was run after the HP Proliant Support Pack was installed with HP optimized drivers.  We ran UnixBench 4.1.0 and hdparm in init 3 and in init 5.  We felt this represented a real world server configuration the best as well as to see how much of a difference it makes with GNOME running.

Test Set 1 (SLES drivers):

init 5:

hdparm -t /dev/cciss/c0d0p2
MB    Seconds    MB/sec
292      3              97.19
304      3.01          101.13
300      3.01         99.81
298      3.01         98.95
298      3              99.24
302      3.02         99.94

hdparm -T /dev/cciss/c0d0p2
MB       Seconds   MB/sec
11184      2            5597.08
11540      2            5774.48
11148      2            5577.90
11720      2            5865.81
11200      2            5604.31 

init 3:

hdparm -t /dev/cciss/c0d0p2
MB    Seconds    MB/sec 
306        3.02        101.44
316        3.01        104.83
312         3.00      103.86
316         3.01      104.87
316         3.02      104.70
318         3.01         105.56

hdparm -T /dev/cciss/c0d0p2
MB       Seconds   MB/sec
11792        2        5900.61
11648        2        5828.30
11364        2        5686.38
11876        2        5942.29
11916        2        5962.84

unixbench:
init 3:    Overall Score:   
init 5:    Overall Score:    729.1   Detailed report

(more to come)