Gen10: HPE Intros Next-Generation Server Platform

Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Monday unveiled its latest server platform, one the company said incorporates the latest in storage and memory technology and will be ready for future versions of those technologies as they are released.

"We’ll have it on the DL500, the DL300, the DL100, as we roll out those products, and even the DL10 series," Peters told CRN. "We’ll have it on those as they become delivered. Also on our tower platform. Also on our Synergy platforms … Anything that uses our iLO [Integrated Lights Out] technology, that’s where you’ll find it because that’s what it’s embedded in."

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HPE’s Gen10 servers also will be a key component of what Peters called "HPE's new compute experience" for accelerating applications and business insight. That new compute experience provides comprehensive agility, security, and simplicity and control, he said.

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"[Customers are] looking for business outcomes, but they need applications such as persistent memory that drive decision making, and with large amounts of data that becomes increasingly important," he said.

HPE has shown itself to be one of the top server innovators, said Mike Strohl, CEO of Entisys360, a Concord, Calif.-based solution provider and HPE channel partner.

"Absolutely, without question, a leader in server innovation," Strohl told CRN. "And I expect it will continue to accelerate that innovation."

HPE is on the right track with the introduction of the Gen10 servers, said Marc Lemke, CTO of Camera Corner Connecting Point, a Green Bay, Wis.-based solution provider and longtime HPE partner.

"HPE servers have been a huge part of our product line, and will be even more so with the Gen10’s new firmware, storage and security," Lemke told CRN.

With the Gen10 servers come a number of technologies HPE hopes will help maintain its server leadership, Peters said.

The first is the company’s new persistent memory technology. Persistent memory combines the performance of DRAM with the persistence of traditional SSDs or spinning disk. With persistent memory, HPE combines standard DRAM along with NAND flash memory and a micro-controller with an integrated battery on a module that fits in a standard memory slot.

Unlike the first generation of persistent memory, which was available as 8-GB NVDIMMs, the latest generation, which will debut with the Gen10 servers, will be available in 16-GB modules, he said.

The Gen10 servers also will support future memory types including Intel 3X XPoint, Peters said.

Also new is Intelligent System Tuning, a technology that allows customers to adjust the performance of the processors instead of turning on additional processor cores in response to increased performance requirements from applications that are licensed on a per-core basis, Peters said.

"We think this is pretty cool," he said. "Now, what’s unique about this is, we own the IP here … We work with Intel to unlock registers, to allow us to have that dynamic state and that control."

Intelligent System Tuning can be used to throttle the server as well, Peters said. "We can dynamically [decrease performance] as the application workload steps down because not all applications need to be running at the highest performance," he said. "You can step that down and save on energy."

In addition, Gen10 servers feature enhanced security via an HPE-designed ASIC, with the ability to recover the firmware and operating system after a denial-of-service attempt or detection of compromised code, Peters said.

While many view security as a feature or as something to be built into premium configurations, HPE’s approach is to make hardware-based threat protection a key pillar of its entire new generation of servers, Peters said.

"By doing so, we’re able to, down at the silicon level, have an immutable public key or hash that’s used to verify the initial block of the code," he said. "Because that key is embedded in the silicon in the factory, it has supply chain integrity all the way back to when the silicon is first created that ensures no opportunity for a breach of the firmware at any point. And it’s digitally signed, it’s authenticated code, that’s necessary to unlock the steps up through the boot sequence from hardware all the way up through firmware into the operating system."

In the case of malware or, increasingly, a direct attack on the firmware code, the Gen10 servers detect the problem and then securely restart to recover that firmware back to its authenticated state after compromise, Peters said. This capability will be available from the entry-level Gen10 servers through the company’s Synergy converged infrastructure offering, he said.

"The small business customers that buy entry towers, they have as much need to protect their continuity of business, to reboot their systems if they’re attacked or there’s some complication, and get it back to its original state and continue business as a corporation that buys these in their data centers,’ he said.

Also new with Gen10 servers is improved management efficiency and ease of use, Peters said. New to the server line is the ability to do large-scale firmware updates and patches, an improved graphical user interface to simplify management with industry-standard APIs, easier system debug access, and convenient warranty entitlement validation, he said.

To help with management of the new Gen10 servers, HPE also introduced HPE OneView 3.1 to better support Gen10 servers in software-defined infrastructures. HPE OneView 3.1 will help the Gen10 servers provide the vendor's composable storage capabilities, and improves firmware management, Peters said.

The Gen10 server platform will start shipping after Intel releases its Purley chips sometime this Summer.

HPE plans to start rolling it out as part of several other product lines, including converged infrastructure, hyper-converged infrastructure, and modules for its Synergy platform, as well as in its Apollo high-density-optimized hyper-scale server line, Peters said.