HPE is aiming to widen its appeal to enterprise customers with its Gen 10 wave of servers based on Intel’s latest Xeon processors, adding security into the hardware to combat security threats, more predictable performance in turbo mode, and new payment options for mid-size firms.
Announced at HPE Discover in Las Vegas, the 10th generation of HPE’s x86 server systems is based on Intel’s Xeon Processor Scalable family, announced by the chipmaker last month. These will be rolled out across the breadth of its portfolio, according to HPE, including the ProLiant, Synergy, Apollo, Superdome and Cloudline families.
HPE said that the new systems have been designed to address three key areas of concern for organisations; agility, security and economic control.
“When we were trying to think a few years back about building our next generation of compute, we thought, how can we have the best possible agility on-prem? How can we have security that is unmatched in the industry? What can we do so that customers can decide how to manage best control their economies of scale, the way to spend their money, and how they scale in the future?” said Alain Andreoli, senior vice president for HPE’s Data Center Infrastructure Group.
HPE’s new “silicon root of trust” security capability is built into a custom chip fitted to the system board and works with the integrated lights-out (iLO) management controller in each HPE server. This enables it to protect the integrity of the system firmware right from its point of manufacture all the way through to operational deployment, what HPE dubs the Secure Compute Lifecycle.
Uniquely, according to HPE chief technology officer Mark Potter, the silicon root of trust can also recover the system back to a previous authenticated state, rather than just preventing it from booting up if it detects that the firmware does not match the correct digital fingerprint.
“We feel it is very important to keep the system up and running, so we built an automatic recovery capability right into our secure system,” he said.
The new iLO also includes the ability to automate maintenance upgrades for servers with support for scheduling and rollback, simplifying operations management in data centres where HPE systems are being operated at any kind of scale.
Addressing the agility question is the latest version 3.1 of HPE’s OneView unified infrastructure management tool, which provides HPE systems with new composable storage capabilities and support to help customers to deploy key applications and infrastructure software including the Mesosphere containers platform.
“We have made OneView now template driven so that these key applications can be moved and migrated and run automatically, and we have also integrated Mesosphere as one of the templates in OneView,” said Andreoli.
HPE also disclosed it is using custom SKUs of Intel’s Skylake-based Xeon Processor Scalable family, in order to deliver greater performance for customers when using turbo mode. This is implemented as three features collectively called Intelligent System Tuning, to be available on selected ProLiant Gen 10 servers.
“We’ve worked very closely on Intel on how do we take better advantage of the ability to run turbo mode, which is based on workload and environment, how do we speed the processor up, and so we uniquely have the ability to run in turbo mode with these special SKUs,” said Potter.
Core Boosting offers the ability to dynamically increase the turbo frequency, while Jitter Smoothing makes for more consistent performance when switching core speeds. Workload Matching provides templates to optimise the processor for specific workloads.
“One of the drawbacks of turbo mode is this notion that you’re going to go into turbo mode and change frequency, and every time you make these big changes in clock frequency because of the dynamic of the workload, you can create delays or latency. So we have a patent on how to smooth this out and keep a consistent deterministic behaviour for the application, but run it at the fastest level of performance,” Potter explained.
This capability could be important for industry sectors such as financial trading, where predictable deterministic performance is important.
“Every transaction has to behave the same, so jitter smoothing is key for that segment,” he added.
The Gen 10 systems also feature Scalable Persistent Memory, an extension of HPE’s existing persistent memory technology that combines DRAM with flash chips to make a non-volatile DIMM (NVDIMM). HPE gave away few details other than saying this will now be available at “terabyte scale” for all ProLiant systems.
Meanwhile, HPE is offering new purchasing options that bring the benefits of flexible purchasing to a wider range of customers. Flexible Capacity, which has been available for several years, offers enterprises a pay-as-you-go option based on the compute capacity they use.
The new Capacity Care Services are available for Gen 10 systems and aimed at mid-size customers, offering them usage tracking reports with a quarterly consultation to assess and manage their compute capacity as necessary. This will help customers save money by eliminating overprovisioning of capacity, HPE said.