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Hewlett-Packard is hoping the second time's the charm. The company on June 17 began shipping the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8, an all-new version of the file sharing appliance for small business it introduced two years ago. With input from channel partners and customers, HP redesigned the desktop appliance, which it positions as a manageable alternative to NAS devices for workgroups of 10 people or less. The CRN Test Center had a chance to test the WinTel-based device this week and found it to be a sturdy appliance that performed well beyond its $449 starting price.
The first thing resellers are likely to notice are improvements to serviceability. Removing a pair of thumbscrews at the rear grants access to a completely redesigned motherboard, its memory slots and expansion slots. Replacing Gen7's single AMD option, Gen8 offers a dual-core Celeron at the low end and Intel Core i3 (Ivy Bridge) in its top-end model. Its two DIMM slots double capacity to 16 GB of DDR3 ECC memory and speeds up to 1,600MHz. Total storage capacity has increased to 12 TB from 8 TB.
HP's latest MicroServer also now provides two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which can be configured for failover protection or aggregated to double the available bandwidth. The new device maintains the same seven USB ports as its predecessor, but two (in the rear) are now USB 3.0 compliant, offering transfer rates as fast as 5 Gbps. The Gen8 device loses an eSATA port and a PCIe x4 slot, but keeps its PCIe x16 slot.
Unlike prior generations, HP is now okay with allowing the 150-watt power supply to be replaced by a qualified service provider. And to prevent lost front-panel keys, the lock has been moved to the bezel; there's also a Kensington lock port to secure the entire unit. The front panel is available in four colors and hides it four non hot-swap drive bays.