HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen11 Server ReviewAugust 14, 2023 0 By Lorena Mejia
The HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen11 server has a new processor. At full capacity it can support up to 3TB of memory. It features a single AMD EPYC 9004 series processor for some pretty incredible core counts in a single processor that can take the place of a dual socket server. At up to 96 physical cores, it has the goods to do just that!
HPE says this flexible little server is edge optimized and can be used for low-cost virtualization, software-defined compute workloads, or a content delivery network. With a 4th Gen AMD EPYC 9004 series CPU, it supports DDR5 memory, PCIe 5.0, 12 memory channel architecture, and can be outfitted with EDSFF drives. Those are definitely some of the highlights. It can also support 2x single width or 2x double-width GPUs.
The front panel supports several storage conditions depending on the drive backplane that’s installed. Drive support includes SAS, SATA and NVMe storage devices but only SAS or SATA for the LFF option.
There is also an optional bezel that goes with this system that looks like it’s branded for an X-Men data center or something. Maybe Wolverine does dual duties for Professor X as an Administrator? An 8-bay 2.5-inch chassis can be converted to support 10 bays total.
And then there’s a 20 EDSFF E3.S 1T NVMe drive version. That EDSFF version delivers storage density and speed thanks to the PCIe bus, for cloud applications like Big Data IoT, online processing and virtualization. EDSFF drives are designed to replace the U.2/U.3 NVMe SSD form factor and provide the greatest storage density of all the options available on this system at up to 307TB using 20 15.36TB drives. If two single or dual width GPUs are added to the mix, then EDSFF drives are limited to 8x. Only 4x SFF storage bays are supported with GPUs too.
GPUs listed in quick specs include the NVIDIA A2 card featuring 16GB Non-CEC Acceleration. CEC refers to an external Root of Trust Chip but this one has it integrated. It is a PCIe 4.0, low-profile card with a x8 connector width that only draws about 40-60W of power. It provides software support for virtual Applications, NVIDIA virtual Workstation, NVIDIA AI Enterprise, and NVIDIA Virtual Compute Server. It offers a 20x increase in inference performance through real-time, end-point sensors and cameras. It’s an instant upgrade for modern AI applications! Beyond that, there are currently no other GPGPUs or GPUs listed for additional single-width or double width cards, nor a wattage limit.
AMD’s 4th generation EPYC processors with 16 to 96 cores are supported with a thermal design power rating of up to 400W and up to 384MB of L3 cache. A modifier on the end of the model number provides additional information. A “P” is for a single processor application. “F” for high-frequency and “X” for AMD’s 3D-V Cache technology, which is not supported on this system anyways. 6x memory module slots to either side provide 12x slots total. With all slots loaded with 256GB DDR5 Registered memory modules, the system will provide up to 3TB of memory operating at a top speed of up to 4800MT/s. Load reduced DIMMs are not supported. In a nutshell, DDR5 memory modules have a higher base speed and draw less power than DDR4 modules. DDR5 modules provide a 50% increase in data rate transfers compared to DDR4, at least for these initial versions. More speed to come.
The front of the 4x LFF bays version supports an optional Optical drive on the right with serial number, where you will also find iLO information, an optional USB 2.0 port, USB 3.2 Gen1 port and an iLO Service port. Drives below with a control panel on the right server ear. That control panel is the same for the 8-bay/10-bay SFF chassis and EDSFF chassis. Both of those have the iLO service port and a USB 3.2 Gen1 port stacked to the left of the control panel.
A media bay in the upper right on the 8-bay chassis can be configured with the optional optical drive or two more optional storage bays, for 10x drives total. The control panel features the Power On button with integrated LED, a general health LED, NIC status LED, and a unit identifier button with integrated LED.
On the back of the system, there are dual redundant PSUs on the right with options for 500W, 800W, and 1600W all with a 94% power efficiency rating. Dual mezzanine card slots along the bottom are for gen 3.0 cards supporting a number of connection options and link speeds.
Between those OCP slots, dual USB 3.2 gen1 ports, an integrated Lights Out management port, and optional serial port. A VGA port is squeezed in between the PSU and OCP card slot. Above all that, 2x PCIe slots with a space in between that can be outfitted with an HPE NS204i-u Gen11 NVMe Hot Plug Boot Optimized Storage Device.
HPE embedded management includes the integrated Lights Out utility with Intelligent Provisioning. Connected to the network through the dedicated 1Gb ethernet iLO management port allows Administrators to manage the system from anywhere, securely. Depending on the version, it will help provision and manage the system in-band or out-of-band and can be configured to send alerts. This particular platform has iLO 6 Standard but you can upgrade to iLO Advanced or Advanced Premium Security Edition, which offers more tools to manage the system. That would be for managing the single server. HPE OneView on the other hand is a one-to-many application and also comes in a Standard version and Advanced version but Advanced does require licensing as well. That little unit supports dual 480GB M.2 NVMe SSDs and automatically creates a RAID 1 mirror for redundancy. It saves those upfront drives for more virtualized storage options and won’t use up a PCIe slot.
Once we pop the cover you can see the two risers in back, each with a x16 PCIe 5.0 slot and x16 connector width. The primary riser features a full-height, full-length slot while the secondary riser can be either a low-profile or half-height, half-length slot. Although, if the Hot Plug Boot Optimized Storage Device is selected then the low-profile secondary riser is required and a cable kit. There is also an M.2 Enablement kit but that one doesn’t provide hardware RAID support. Certain combinations with GPUs and OCP, and or riser slots will also impact data bandwidth for the GPU. So, keep that in mind. Those OCP card slots have a PCIe 5.0 x16 connector width but x8 bus width.
A number of Smart Array controllers are supported on this system. Some can be installed in the PCIe slots and others in one of those OCP mezzanine card slots. Including the MR408i-o Gen11 storage controller with x8 lanes and 4GB Cache that we have installed on this system. That one fits in one of those OCP card slots.
This HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen11 server at 1U is a great way to add capacity to your existing network with a single processor platform that can perform the same as a dual processor system. With support for up to 96 physical cores and 192 virtual threads, the capacity is there for supporting virtualized workloads or simply providing more compute cores.
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