Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
I have a couple of HP ML 110 G5’s here in my office. I was doing some maintenance and did BIOS upgrades to them to the latest version available here. Immediately AFTER the BIOS upgrade, I noticed that the fans in the system ran at full speed ALL the time… the noise was intense in my little office. Like most of us however, I didn’t have time to dig into it and I left it be.
Over Christmas break I’ve been doing a little bit of work and finally the noise of these servers really got to me, so I decided to investigate. The HP support forums are actually full of people talking about this problem. Some have resolved it by downgrading their BIOS to an older version. The real answer though is not in the BIOS at all, but the Systems Management Firmware. You need to upgrade BOTH in order for the fans to slow down properly as they should. You can get the latest Systems Management Firmware here.
So buried in the release notes for the BIOS upgrade is a note as below. It is the only suggestion that we should do BOTH at the same time. In future I’ll be taking note of that tip!
When upgrading to BIOS version 2009.10.09 or later HP requires that the BMC version 3.11 or later is also installed on the system in order for proper server operation.
Now that I’ve done the upgrade to both, the loudest thing in my office is fan from the Netgear switch… hmmm must see about that too
Friday, December 11th, 2009
I recently moved my 2140 from a 160GB SATA drive over to a 120GB SSD drive. Below you can see the performance of the system with the disk at a rating of 5.4.
Following the replacement with the SSD, you can see below the performance has gone up to 7.1 which is pretty darn impressive. From my perspective it does seem to run faster all round. In fact I’m finding it hard to fault this unit for the work I’m doing right now as it performs very well indeed.
Battery life is also better than before, but I suspect Windows 7 does not know how to accurately predict the battery life with the SSD as the estimates seem to be lower, even though I’m finding the actual life to be longer.
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
Recently HP released the 6th generation of their product line. As part of that they released the ML330 G6. This server is focused on the mid level SMB client and includes features that are designed to answer their business requirements. I’ve been fortunate to have one of these servers for quite a few months now as I was beta testing it for HP. During the beta I found that the server was 100% stable with no unexpected crashes – something I’ve come to expect from HP.
The ML330 G6 servers come with a range of CPUs all based on the Nehalem CPUs. The Nehalem CPUs are designed to cater specifically for higher workloads than previous generations CPUs. They have some impressive performance optimisations around Virtualisation that I tested out myself with various configurations. I loaded up the ML330 G6 with Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Hyper-V role. I then installed SBS 2008 as a virtual machine in just over an hour. Wow that’s fast. Whilst the system I had was in beta, I was certainly impressed with the performance and stability of the server. OK down to the tech specs.
The ML 330 G6 supports up to 2 physical CPUs and is currently sold in speeds of 2.0Ghz up to 2.53Ghz. There are factory configurations feature Quad Core CPUs across all models with either single or dual CPU standard which means loads of grunt for the workloads we’re likely to throw at them. What is particularly interesting here is that when you push the CPU hard for some tasks, it is designed to overclock itself a little in order to get that task done faster than before. It does this by shutting down one or two of the other cores of the CPU to ensure that it does not go over the thermal limits of the system.
Memory expansion is not something you’ll need to worry to much about. With up to 18 memory slots, you can take this system up to 144GB of DDR3 Registered RAM if you really need to. One thing to note is that the Nehalm architecture requires that the memory configurations be balanced across the CPUs. This means that you need to have equal amounts of RAM dedicated to each CPU. This is one of the ways that Nehalm achieves it’s massive performance improvements over previous generations of process architecture. You also need to keep in mind that there are two type of memory you can install into your HP G6 servers, DDR3 Registered and DDR3 Unbuffered. The two types of memory are actually incompatible memory types and you can’t mix the two. It would seem strange then for HP to offer such configurations until you understand the logic behind it. You can use the DDR3 Unbuffered RAM for configurations up to 24GB and it’s designed this way as a low cost method for small system configurations. However if you are designing larger configurations with higher memory requirements then you need to consider using DDR3 Registered from the start to give you better overall growth paths.
In terms of the disk subsystem, the model I had came with an Smart Array 410 controller which is expandable to up to 512MB of Battery Backed Write Cache. The standard server allows for up to 4 Internal Hot Pluggable or Non Hot Pluggable 3.5” SATA or SAS hard drives. There is an optional expansion chassis that will allow for a further 4 x 3.5” drives of either type if you need it. This gives this low end system some serious potential in terms of disk capacity. The very entry level model comes with a low end Smart Array B110i controller which I’d recommend upgrading to the 410 with BBWC as soon as possible. Whilst I’ve not tested this low end controller, I really think you will need the better disk throughput to keep up with the processing grunt this server has to offer.
Externally the server has 3 drive bays of which one is already filled with a DVD ROM as standard (about time too). It has 8 USB Ports in total 2 on Front, 4 on Rear and 2 internal (1 for tape but I didn’t use this). The system has 4 x PCI-Express slots internally of various configurations (x8 Gen 1, x16 Gen2 and x8 Gen 2). The standard power supply is a 460w non hot pluggable/non redundant power supply. You can replace it with a hot pluggable unit and add a second for redundancy. This is another area that needs consideration as you have the option to “right-size” your power supply configuration therefore ensuring optimum efficiency in terms of power management. Check out their guidance here. There’s also the option for redundant fans in the system too if needed.
The server runs pretty quietly in my office and it will be a shame to have to give it back to them as I’ve grown somewhat attached to it. Overall I am impressed with the ML330 G6 server. It seems to have a fair degree of expandability without the high cost normally associated with it. My one down side (and this is common across most name brand servers right now) is that I’d like to see them have a couple of ESata ports on the rear for things like external disk backup devices. Given the world is moving this way I can only hope that the G7 series will accommodate this request as a standard feature.
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
I d a lot of presentations and I often have been using a Logitech Wireless Presenter. Unfortunately the one I’ve had died. I needed to find a substitute quickly. The only real option available was the Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000. This mouse is a fairly small notebook style device that is not moulded for either left or right hand and as such for me it’s not one I use every day. On the underside of the mouse it’s got a number of buttons that allow the presenter to control the presentation whilst walking around the stage. One of the buttons controls the inbuilt laser pointer which is fairly bright at a long distance. Other buttons allow for control of the presentation, media within the presentation and the volume of your laptop.
The mouse comes with a hard plastic carry case to house both the mouse and the Bluetooth dongle which does well given it normally rolls around in my laptop carry bag along with everything else.
Biggest Advantage – compact portable size and the hard carry case
Biggest Disadvantage – not moulded to my hand like the Explorer Mini Mouse – therefore I need to carry two mice with me.
The mouse retails for around $99 AUD and is available through normal channels.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
I was talking to Shannon Dowden the local Microsoft Geek Gadget Girl about the problems with mice and certain desktop environments. Shannon told me that the Bluetrack mice would solve all my problems. Sure… right, I’ve heard that before Ok – so Shannon put her money where her mouth was and gave me one to try out. I took it home and the first thing I tried it on was my frosted glass desk at home. Most mice simply don’t work in this environment and I’ve needed to use a mouse mat under the mouse which is quite a pain. Anyway I used the new mouse on the desktop and IT WORKED… it just worked. I was sold. The BlueTrack technology is featured in a number of mice in the MS hardware range now and it’s designed to operate on just about any surface at all. From my tests, it works on everything I’ve tried so far which is great.
What I like specifically about this mouse aside from the fact it works on my glass desktop is the feel of it. I find that for a mouse to be usable over the long term it needs to fit my hand just right. This mouse does that nicely. The mouse runs on a single AA battery and right now I’ve used it for a couple of months day in day out without changing the batteries just yet. It comes with a snap in dongle that powers the mouse off to save battery. Also it comes with a small carry bag to protect it when it’s in my laptop bag. All in all a nice package indeed.
It retails for around the $ 99 here in Australia and you can buy them from a variety of commercial outlets.
Here’s the link on the MS website for more information
Biggest Advantage: Comfort factor – this is one mouse I use every day with my laptop
Biggest Disadvantage: The carry case opening is not secure enough to hold the mouse side it in my laptop carry bag. End result is the mouse often slides out easily.
Thanks Shannon for the mouse – I love it!
Friday, December 14th, 2007
This week I finally replaced my aging HP iPaq rw6828. It’s become more and more unreliable over the last 6 months, with issues like the screen shaking badly, call dropouts, funky noises coming over it from time to time. I’ve had it for what feels like 2+ years and it’s been the longest Windows Mobile device I’ve owned.
So the challenge was to look for something to replace it. I looked around, asked a number of people and there are many options out there. I decided early on that it would be a Windows Mobile 6 device. I have no desire to get into the Blackberry discussion as I want full integration with the Microsoft stack and you can only get that with Windows Mobile devices. All roads seemed to lead back to the HTC TyTn II device. One of the guys in the office had one of these and I was pretty impressed with it. So I looked around and found the best price I could get was $1194 AUD inc GST including CoPilot 7. I got it from Press Digital – here. Ordered it and waited for it to arrive – it arrived within 24 hours which was great service.
So far, I’ve used it with HSDPA linked to my Vista Laptop and the experience of using RDP from my laptop over the link was just like I was in front of the servers screen. Amazing. All other functions of the device have been equally amazing and so far, I’m yet to find a downside to it. I’ll post more in the coming weeks about it and my experiences.