H-P’s NetServer LT6000r

Network World (US)

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s NetServer LT6000r enterprise server is full of surprises. It’s a six-way machine fitted into a four-way box that packs quite a performance punch. We were impressed with the design and the ease of use of this server.

The unit we tested, which appeared at first to be another four-way, four-rack space server, came with six Pentium III processors and 1G byte of RAM that can be upgraded to 8G bytes. The server’s multiprocessor architecture is built on the standard ServerWorks ServerSet III HE chipset as opposed to Intel’s Profusion architecture, which can support up to eight processors. The ServerWorks chipset normally supports four processors, but HP has altered the processor bus layout to fit in six CPUs. HP claims the ServerWorks chipset performs incrementally better than the Intel chipset due to that lack of coherency filters found in the ServerWorks chipset.

This is the first enterprise server we have tested with our new file, network and database tests. Until we test other servers against this new methodology, we have no point of reference. However, in general, the HP NetServer LT6000r server performs very well.

The file results are in line with what we would expect for this class of server. By that, we mean the file test results for this box rang in at three to four times that of the same tests run on a server with two processors.

The processors in this box were not running at 100% utilization during any of the file tests. This implies that there is a bottleneck elsewhere in the server system. Most likely, the bottleneck lies in the bandwidth of the individual drives. The drives were configured in a RAID-0 stripe set using the RAID controller, but the server was shipped with only five drives in the RAID-0 stripe sets. A server with six processors would require more on the order of 20 drives to reveal the full performance of the RAID controller. Therefore, we believe this bottleneck could be alleviated by reconfiguring the RAID set or by adding more drives.

The network tests showed the HP NetServer LT6000r can handle a large number of transactions per second. We saw this server process in excess of 10,000 transactions per second. This heavy load creates stress on the I/O subsystem including the network interface. The CPUs were not pegged during this test, which leads us to believe that the bottleneck is the I/O subsystem as is expected in most servers. In the CPU database tests, the Oracle and SQL Server 7.0 numbers cannot be compared to each other directly because of the different database configurations. Also, the SQL statements were slightly different between Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp.’s SQL.

The HP LT6000r also performed extremely well in our new CPU database test. Running SQL Server on Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000, the HP NetServer LT6000r server got a marginally better score than the Dell Computer Corp. 8450 loaded with six CPUs we tested earlier this year. With 30 virtual users, the HP NetServer LT6000 achieved 1.83 and 1.81 transactions per second with NT and Win 2000, respectively. The Dell server we tested earlier this summer running with six CPUs achieved 1.68 and 1.71 transactions per second with NT and Win 2000, respectively. However, this increased performance for the HP NetServer LT6000r is to be expected because its architecture does not incur the overhead of the coherency filters found in the Profusion chipset used in the Dell 8450.

The features and flexibility of this server are excellent, earning the HP NetServer LT6000r a 9.0. Six processors in a four-unit high server space that includes hot-pluggable PCI slots, adds up to a feature-packed server that can grow with your network demands over time.

The manageability of this server is also very good. The server comes with an HP Navigator CD that provides drivers, management software and an installation aid for operating systems including NT, Win 2000, Novell Inc. NetWare, Linux and SCO Unix. The management software allows monitoring and configuration of the server through HPOs TopTools for Servers. The monitoring and instrumentation drivers can also interface with HP OpenView as well as the other popular systems management platforms.

The operating system install aid that ships with the server was a breeze to use for the operating systems we tested it with, because it automatically made sure we had the proper device drivers installed. We appreciated the ease of operating system installation during our testing with three operating systems.

The components of the HP NetServer LT6000r are easily accessible. The tool-less and modular design make working on the server during a crisis easy to handle. The PCI cards are difficult to access, but with hot-pluggable PCI slots, you can minimize downtime while swapping PCI cards.

The front of the unit has an LCD display and slots for four hot-swappable, one-inch drives. The front bezel is hinged on the left side. When the bezel is opened, the hot-swappable drives and three hot-swappable power supply modules can be accessed. The power supply units are in a 2+1 redundant, load-balancing configuration. Under the bezel, two latches retain the server into a rack. When the latches are disengaged, the server can slide forward on rack-mountable slides.

When the server is fully extended on its rack-mountable slides, a large latch handle is accessible from the top that is used to disengage the motherboard from the unit. With this latch disengaged, the top can swing open, exposing the processors and RAM. Another door on the top of the unit allows access to hot-swap redundant fans. A door on the left side of the unit allows access to six 64-bit PCI slots. This completely tool-less entry design made getting to all the components of the server easy. However, due to the layout of the server, a few PCI slots were a little difficult to access.

The server we tested was attached to a 12-drive enclosure that contained seven drives. The server also came to us with a dual channel Ultra2 SCSI RAID controller. The internal drives and external drive enclosure are connected to the RAID controller, which came configured with three logical drives in a RAID-0 configuration.

One logical drive maps to the first drive in the internal drive bay. The second logical drive maps to the remaining three drives in the internal drive bay and the first two drives in the external drive enclosure. The third drive enclosure maps to the remaining five drives in the external drive enclosure. The first logical drive is 9G bytes and is used for the operating system. The other two logical drives were 45G bytes and were used for data partitions.

The HP NetServer LT6000r has a space saving Enhanced Integration Drive Electronics (EIDE) CDROM similar to those found in laptops. It comes with four Fast Ethernet connections, one port built in to the server and the remaining three in PCI slots.

With the combination of power, size, and serviceability, the HP NetServer LT6000r is a great enterprise server package for limited disk space high-rack density CPU intensive installations. With the addition of an external disk enclosure, the HP NetServer LT6000r can also operate well as a large file server.

Bass, a senior technical staff member at CNL and co-author of McGraw Hill’s Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks, designs and leads the execution of the test suites. He can be reached at john_bass@nscu.edu.

Bass is also a member of the Network World Global Test Alliance, a cooperative of the premier reviewers in the network industry, each bringing to bear years of practical experience on every review. For more Test Alliance information, including what it takes to become a member, go to www.nwfusion.com/alliance.

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