REVIEW: HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen 10 Server with AMD EPYC ProcessorNovember 27, 2019
The 1U HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen 10 server (SHOP HERE) sports a single AMD EPYC 7000 series processor and support for up to 2TB of memory. With the impressive core count and memory support, HPE recommends this system for virtualization and software-defined-storage. HPE is promoting this platform as a low-cost alternative to a dual Intel Xeon Scalable processor-enabled platform and there is a definite argument for that.
AMD’s EPYC 7000 series processors deliver 8, 16, 24 or an impressive 32 cores per processor. That would be four more cores than Intel’s top of the line Xeon Scalable Platinum 8180. Not only that, but the 7000 series all support a maximum of 2TB of memory with 8 memory channels and 128 PCIe lanes. In general, Intel’s Scalable Xeon processors support two less memory channels, only 48 PCIe lanes, and only 768GB of memory. That is, unless you go with the “M” suffix processors, which will give you 1.5TB per processor. But even with those “M” processors we’re still off by a full 500GB and they’re like two to four times as much!
The AMD EPYC processor installed on this system is the AMD EPYC 7251. It sells for a little over $500. It has 8 cores, 32MB of L3 cache, 8 DDR4 memory lanes, and a Thermal Design Point of 120W. This is the bottom-basement EPYC processor and only supports memory speeds of 2400MT/s, but it will support 2TB of memory. Plus, at 120W that’s like sipping power through a straw compared to the potential power draw from dual Intel Scalable Xeons just to support the memory this AMD EPYC processor offers. Of course, the architecture is different between AMD and Intel, with Intel definitely considered the more reliable of the two based on market share and actual usage. That said, this is AMDs first new processor in 8 years and have only been available for a little while. In general, everybody has been quite impressed with the EPYC performance, which is not to say there aren’t a few out there who see it differently.
“At 120W, that’s like sipping power through a straw compared to the potential power draw from dual Intel Scalable Xeon’s just to support the memory this AMD EPYC processor offers.”
Right next to the CPU socket are two banks of 8 memory module slots, for 16 memory module slots total. Outfitted with 128GB Load-Reduced DIMM modules in all sockets, you will reach 2TB of memory. Registered memory modules in all 16 slots will support only 1TB of memory. That would be two memory modules per channel for both RDIMMS and LRDIMMs. Although, with two DIMM modules installed per memory channel, memory speed drops to 2133MT/s. With a single memory module per channel you get increased performance and memory speeds of up to 2666MT/s. Just not as much memory.
HPE’s “silicone root of trust” promises security protection not only from the factory, but across the lifecycle of the system. Helping you manage the system is HPE’s reliable Integrated Lights Out management module 5.0 with Intelligent Provisioning. Lights Out helps administrators manage the system both at the chassis and remotely with a 1Gb dedicated management port front and back. Graphics on this system are integrated and provide 32MB of Flash memory for iLO. HPE iLO Advanced Premium Security edition features Runtime Firmware Verification which checks the firmware every 24 hours and will roll back to the last know good version or to factory settings if the firmware has been compromised. The system is also compatible with HPE OneView offering infrastructure automation and will support several generations of HPE and third-party servers, storage, and networking. An optional Trusted Platform Module ensures access to the server is authorized, creates logs and sends alerts when the top panel of the server is removed.
“HPE’s “silicone root of trust” promises security protection not only from the factory, but across the lifecycle of the system.”
Storage options include SAS, SATA, and NVMe with options for 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch storage devices. Our system has four bays up front to support four 3.5-inch SAS or SATA storage devices at up to 12Gb/s. Other configurations include eight 2.5 and 10 x 2.5-inch drives with the optional media bay populated with drives instead of a slimline optical device. You can install up to 10 x NVMe drives assuming you have the NVMe backplane and no additional cards are required as the board supports 5 dual-port PCIe connectors. That would be 8 in the standard drive bays and 2 more in the optional control panel area. The 3.5-inch drive chassis we have here only requires 5 single-rotor fans. Seven dual-rotor performance fans are required when 10 NVMe drives are installed.
The HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen 10 motherboard features native support for both SATA and NVMe devices with the Smart Array S100i. It can support up to 14 drives plus software RAID. If you want 12Gb/s access and additional RAID capabilities, you will need a PCIe Smart Array HD/RAID controller. This particular platform features HPE’s Smart Array E-208i SR Gen 10 controller and operates in mixed mode combining RAID and HBA functions simultaneously. It offers 12Gb/s access for SAS and SATA drives and is a great low-cost option for addressing internal storage and software defined storage applications.
An HPE 331i Ethernet adapter is built into the system and has four 1GbE ports. Other options include a PCIe network adapter card or an optional Flexible LAN on Motherboard in a dedicated slot. The FlexibleLOM has options supporting 1GbE to 25GbE in dual and four-port options. PCIe cards will add even more ports and support connection speeds of up to 100Gb/s with one or two ports, but that will take up some of your limited PCIe slots— of which there are only 3.
The Primary riser supports 2 PCIe 3.0 slots, one x16 and one x8. An optional secondary riser provides another PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, but cannot be used with a modular Smart Array controller option like on this system. That said, you can go with one of the essential RAID controllers or one of the performance RAID controllers. For hypervisor support, you can use the integrated micro SD card slot or the secure internal USB 3.0 port. Lastly, you could also use a Half-Height, Half-Length PCIe card supporting two read-intensive SATA M.2 storage devices that can be used in mirror mode for a failsafe boot device.
AMD is definitely giving Intel a run for their money with their new EPYC 7000 series processors. While many organizations are still skeptical about the performance and reliability of these processors, initial reactions from actual users have been very favorable. I mean come on! These processors literally cost a quarter of what Intel is asking for their Xeons! Plus, AMD EPYC processors support more cores, more PCIe lanes, and more memory. This system is also compatible with the rest of your Intel-based infrastructure.