Inside an HP server

Take a tour of the interior and exterior of the HP ProLiant DL360 G7 server with this Server Month video.

“The HP ProLiant DL360 G7 is known for its performance capacity and flexibility. It’s one of the most refined and respected 1U servers available and has late-model processors, integrated management and sensors that keep it running efficiently in the data center,” said Colin Steele, senior site editor.

Although the outside of the box is similar to other 1U servers discussed in our Server Month coverage, one particular feature stands out. Find out what that feature is, and walk through the HP BIOS system and power management options, thermal configuration, new advanced features and more.

Check out the rest of our Server Month tips and videos.

Read the full text transcript from this video below. Please note the full transcript is for reference only and may include limited inaccuracies. To suggest a transcript correction, contact    

Inside an HP server

Colin Steele: Hi. I'm senior site editor Colin Steele.

Stephen Bigelow: I'm Stephen Bigelow, senior technology editor.

Carl Brooks: And I'm Carl Brooks, senior technology writer.

Colin Steele: Let's take a look at this one new server. The Hewlett Packard Pro Liant DL360 G7 is known for its performance, capacity and flexibility. It's one of the most refined and respected 1U servers available with plate-model processors, integrated management and sensors that keep it running efficiently in the data center. Let's take a closer look at the DL360 and share our observations.

We're here with the HP DL360 G7. Steve, as you take a look at the outside of box, what are some of your first impressions?

Stephen Bigelow: Well, Colin, the HP unit that we have here has characteristics on the front panel that are similar to a lot of other 1U servers that are in the group, and if we look at the unit from right to left, we start with a USB port, a conventional power button, a unit ID button and a video port. One thing that is different about the HP is the addition of a system ID tray that a technician can pop out and look at and, in a moment's notice, get information about the status of the server. And as we come along to the left of the front panel, we see that there is an optical drive, a DVD drive, and that makes it very convenient for technicians to install workloads or run diagnostics or do other software installations on the server, and there are also four hard drive trays. Now, this server will support up to 8 terabytes of storage, and what HP has done in this particular configuration is include two 300 GB 10K RPM SAS drives and that give the unit some basic storage to work from, and using hot-swappable drive trays makes it a very easy matter to remove and install new drives with the unit.

Carl, what do you see on the back?

Carl Brooks: Okay. Looking at the back of the unit, we have two fairly standard redundant power supplies. These are 460 Watts a piece. They're easily removable and hot-swappable. From here, this is the iLO port. This is for on-board management. Do not plug in your LAN cable in here. This is your serial port, an old-fashioned VGA port, an old-fashioned 1, 2, 3, 4 one gig Ethernet LAN ports, which is nice. These are escape ports for the risers, which is where you'd install additional cards. One thing that's important to note about this is that the exhaust for this is on the top of the server case. It's not out the back, so the cold air will come in the front, hot air will blow up the top. This does need a little bit of clearance on the top of it.

Colin Steele: So now that we've gotten a good look at the outside of the HP DL360 G7, Carl, can you show us how to open it up so we can take a look at the interior?

Carl Brooks: Sure thing. You start with a screw driver. It'll keep all those pesky bandits away. Unlock it so.

Stephen Bigelow: And the interior design of the HP is very impressive. It does start with some plastic ducting along with an extensive amount of labeling to help direct technicians to what goes where. But the duct work does come out without any additional tools, and it's very simple to lay that aside and to get a pretty clear view of what's inside the unit. The first thing that really catches my eye is a series of fans. There are 8 fans so 16 fans actually working together to direct air from the front of the unit all the way through to the back.

Cold air comes in from the front. It will pick up any heat generated by the hard drives in the bays up front, move through the fans, across the memory modules and the CPUs, through the unit, through the power supplies and out through the vents and through the rear of the power supplies. The two processors are very easy to see. This HP uses two Intel 5500 or 5600 series processors so you can get up to 12 processor cores available in this system. There are also 18 DIMM slots, which allow for a maximum of about 192 GB of memory in this unit. In the configuration that we've received here from HP, there are only six memory modules installed, giving up about 12 GB all together. Carl, what do you see?

Carl Brooks: Well, I see a lot of expensive plastic, which is not all a bad thing, and there's a fair amount of design that went into this. A lot of people were thinking about how to make this the most tight and easy to work with the things that you need to. All of these things here, for instance, this is all tool lists. If you want to replace any of these fans, these catches come right out. The same thing here with the CPU. If you do want to replace the CPU or take the coolers out for any reason, these are just thumb latches. You can pull and pop them right off. Same with the power supplies you saw here. There's basically nothing you don't regularly need to do in here that you can do without a screw driver so it's nice that way.

Not all of that fancy plastic is a bad thing, like this front cover we took off, these fans here. It is extremely highly ducted. Without this cover, the cooling on this really wouldn't work properly. Air is drawn down through these channels and directed in the appropriate direction. You can't see the back from here but the power supplies have vents on them so they suck hot air back and out through the bottom. The rest of the air is directed here over the CPU's, down, up through the top exhaust.

The add-on modules go here and here underneath this central bridge here, which is actually a riser card in itself, so you want to make sure if you're going to put an add-on card in here, check and make sure the size is going to fit, it's not going to block your air flow down on this side and the other. All of this stuff, like I said, you need to do, fairly simply you can do in short order. This is the RAID battery. This, as you saw, is on top of that plastic module. Batteries are going to die; you can replace these fairly easily. That goes down to the onboard RAID, which is on its own little riser card here.

Onboard storage is right behind it. Cables go from here to the back plane that serves all the drives in the front. There's an additional connecter here if you wanted to add more onboard storage as opposed to the hardware RAID. SD card slot if you want to add in any onboard memory for that, and that's really about it. This is basically set up to burn a lot of CPU and a lot of RAM and really get you going as soon as you can.

Colin Steele: All right, guys. Now, that we've gotten to look at the outside and take a peek inside, let's get this thing powered up.

Stephen Bigelow: Sounds good, Colin. Like most ordinary PCs, it's really just a matter of connecting the display and the keyboard and the mouse. The biggest difference here is that with an enterprise class server with redundant power supplies, we'll use two power cords. And once everything is all connected, it's really just a matter of pressing the power button and the unit will start to post.

Carl Brooks: Do the honors, Steve?

Stephen Bigelow: Certainly.

Carl Brooks: Lights! It's a good sign, you don't know.

Stephen Bigelow: Really, from there, once the unit posts, a process that can take several minutes, it's really then just a matter of installing any applications or virtual machines on the system. Now the DL360 G7 can really boot from a variety of source like a network, or it can boot from internal drives, but it really is the only 1U system in this group of servers to include Windows Server 2008 R2-1 disc.

Carl Brooks: Yeah, that wasn't so good, actually. I mean, nothing wrong with Windows or HP, but the fact is, you see the keyboard plugs into USB here. There is no PS2 slot here, which means there's no keyboard on interrupt 1 onboard on this BIOS. That means that when the Windows Server actually booted up the first time and had a problem, it went into the recover console mode and we couldn't use the keyboard to access it, which was not ideal. So I'm a big fan of IRQ1, just so everybody knows.

All those little dots at the bottom are showing you various services and configurations. It's mostly just pretty. Integrated Lights Out is the HP onboard management controller. HP Smart Array is the onboard RAID controller we pointed out to you. If you want to, you can hit F8 to get into the RAID array and look at the drives. We're not going to do that now.

This is the HP BIOS. It's a little more complicated than the one you get on your HP laptop but it's basically the same idea. System options, power management options, IRQ settings, these are all very standard stuff that you'll see in any server BIOS. Advanced options, you'll see some of the newer stuff. That'll be interesting. Advanced system ROM options, all right, load embedded devices first. If you stick an SD card in that onboard slot that's on the motherboard, you could actually boot from that. This is where you would choose that sort of thing.

"Formal configurations," this is the fun part. "Optimal cooling" means that the fans will run higher and as the server gets hotter, they'll just go higher and higher. "Increased cooling" means that we're going to turn the all the way on all the time, and the thing will sound like it's a jet engine in a hanger. "Advanced performance tuning options," hardware prefecture, these and sector prefects, these have to do with how the system handles requests from RAM to CPU and back again. These are all, again, fairly standard for a server. I'm going to see if we can find something that's newer or at least nicer about these things.

Let's see. "Zero port options", "Embedded mix." You can boot from any or all or none of these mix, which is nice. "Advanced memory protections" is very easy to see memory USB options. "Removable flash media boot sequence" will be if you want to boot up off the USB key, you would do that here. Let's see. "Boot controller orde,r" right now it says, "Boot from HP RAID" boot from the onboard SATA controller that you saw there on the board inside, again, fairly standard.

Let's see. "Server security," you can put a password on it. You can turn things on or off if you want to here. This is not incredibly important if you really want to be really tight about security you can turn off the various mix and adapters that you've put on there. I don't know why you'd want to but you can. So a pretty good set of standard options that you'd get on any server. Now I'm just looking for the CPU options. Were those on another menu?

Stephen Bigelow: I think they were under "System Options".

Carl Brooks: Let's see. "Processor Options," yeah, okay, this stuff is new-ish. It's also stuff you may or may not need. Intel virtualization technology, Intel hyperthreading options, enabled/disabled. If you don't use these things, leave them enabled; it's not going to matter. If you do use them, make sure that you double check and triple check that the driver's operating system and various other requirements that you're using because they may throw a wrench into the works. Most of these things are nice to have but you don't really have to worry about them unless they're actually a design concern that you're building out for this particular machine. That's really about it for here so let's exit this.

Again, fairly standard stuff for a BIOS, just those virtualization settings are now onboard. They're built into the hardware now. Okay. "System Maintenance Menu," our old friend Dr. DOS, actually. Set up your utility where you can prepare the system for set-up. This is where you'd start if you were going to install, I don't know, Windows 2008 or whatever. "Inspector Utility," you can inspect various things that the server's trying to tell you. "Diagnostic Utility" you can run test on the RAM and CPU to discover any errors that might be hidden in there, also the hard drives.

"Inspector Utility." Let's inspect this one and see what it shows us. "System Overview", "Primary Boot Controller", "Parade Configurations", this is all stuff you can either see in the post screen or see in the BIOS. "System Configuration" is just a quick way to see what everything is on. Yeah, this is all the actions you could have picked. You could pick options on the BIOS and come back here and they'd all be different but that was fun for you, that's good. "PCI Device Info," "SM BIOS System Info," this is interesting. This is where you find support information, which you always need to know.

"System Memory Map," this is fun. This is actually what's in addressable memory at this moment. So even with the server powered off, this is what people would read out of it. I am all done. "Event Class 0X21", "Maintenance Code 0X20", "Maintenance Note", I am all cleared through HP ASMC. I time sometime last year so I don't care about that. So this is error messages, log messages, all sorts of interesting stuff you'd see. This is the place you'd look at it in the BIOS. If you're sensible, you'll be doing this from a desk and your remote management, which will be iLO at this point just to show you all of the stuff but you can get through to the BIOS. This is another example of all the stuff that the server can show you, if you want to look for it, which is nice. This is somewhere where we've actually, I think, made some strides. It would be harder to get this information in other places. "ISA CMOS Data and Hex Code", if you read that, that's good. "EV Data", this is fun.

Again, just a quick overview of all the different stuff that's on there as well as the log data so this is where you might come for information. However, you would have to reboot the thing every single time you wanted to look at this. So I recommend remote management.

Colin Steele: That does it for this 1U server overview. I'm Colin Steele.

Stephen Bigelow: I'm Steven Bigelow.

Carl Brooks: And I'm Carl Brooks.

Colin Steele: Thanks for watching.

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