Last week, I built a
Compaq HP Proliant ML570. Quad-CPU, 1.9 GHz Xeon, 2 gigs of RAM, and about 200 gigs’ worth of 10K RPM SCSI storage in two RAID arrays.
Yes, being one of the first people to see a $20,000 computer and being the one who gets to take it apart to install the optional add-ins is my idea of fun.
Opening it up shows this is a real, honest-to-goodness server, not just any old commodity motherboard slapped into a rack-mount chasis or a case with big casters on it. The memory is on a riser card. There are standby slots on the card, so that if as many as two DIMMs fail, the backups take over. The riser cards are hot-pluggable, but of course how the computer handles you hot-plugging the memory depends on the operating system.
Most of the PCI-X slots are also hot-pluggable. They’re 64-bit and run at 100 MHz.
Of course, the hard drives are hot-pluggable as well. Which brings up the RAID stuff. The drives are Ultra320 SCSI. There are two drive cages. The only Ultra320 RAID controller HP is currently offering (remember, this is May 2003 as I write) was a single-bus. Well, there’s a second bus, but it’s external.
If you put in two of these controllers, you get the full bandwidth of the bus but you can’t stripe across the buses, which you will probably want to do for performance, and almost certainly will have to do in the future for expansion. The only two-bus RAID controller HP was offering was an Ultra160. So we bought that. Under the best-possible circumstances, a single 15K RPM drive can’t quite deliver 80 MB per second. So with two of the newest 15K drives on an Ultra160 bus accessing the very front of the disk, you’d still have a little bandwidth to spare.
These particular Fujitsu 10K RPM disks deliver between 40 and 70 MB per second under optimal conditions. So the Ultra160 controller isn’t a huge liability. But we’ll be ordering more of these, and if HP delivers an Ultra320 controller that meets our needs, we’ll get one.
It runs Linux really, really fast. I compiled a kernel in about 4 minutes, without doing anything special to it. Linux was only on it for a few hours though, while I waited for its RAID controller to come in. Then I installed Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2000.
It’s nice. But with nearly 8 GHz worth of CPU power onboard, it had better be.