HPE intros new ProLiant Microserver Gen10, steps backwards

HPE unveiled the ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 this week at HPE Discover and while a refresh was long overdue, the MicroServer has returned to its G7 roots with the new model.  HPE decided never to release a Gen9 model of the MicroServer, though this Gen10 feels more Gen9 than new and shiny.   The model notably returns to AMD processors, switches to a SoC motherboard, and also removes the iLO from the platform.  The MicroServer was once touted for remote-office, branch-office use cases but the absence of IMPI, critical in ROBO, makes me wonder where this is targeted.

What’s Different and New?

The new MicroServer Gen10 features AMD processors, Opteron X3000 series with 2 core or 4 core as options and turbo clock speeds up to 3.4GHz.  It scales up to 32GB, double the previous Gen8 model.  The motherboard switches from a socketed Intel design to a System on a Chip design from AMD – meaning the processor cannot be field upgraded.  The new motherboard design adds two PCI slots over 1 PCI slot in the previous Gen8 and G7 models.

For storage, 4 large form factor drive SATA slots are retained in the Gen10 model and the same limit of 4 x 4TB SATA drives in the drive slot.  With SSD advancements, the new model adds the ability to replace the DVD drive with an SSD in a 5th slot near the top of the cube, but complicating things for OS installations with the absence of virtual media through iLO.

For video, the new model includes two display ports, possibly signaling the intended use case for the system around video applications – perhaps video walls and other things.  Upgraded GPU capabilities also accompany the new model, but both of these trade-off mean that MicroServer is less of a general-use server and more specifically for uses where graphics are needed – so not home-lab users or general ROBO virtualization.

HP released the MicroServer Gen8 back in 2013/2014, with a strange cubical form factor and the new Gen10 model retains this design, in fact, allowing a Gen10 to stack on a Gen8 or vice versus.  The bezel on the model now comes in a black finish instead of the default silver look of the Gen8.

HPE is also talking about ClearOS on the MicroServer Gen10.  ClearOS is a linux distribution based on CentOS and Red Hat with a marketplace of application solutions from 6 categories: Cloud, Gateway, Server, Networking, System and Reports, according to the ClearOS website.  HPE is touting it as a cost-effective alternative in the SMB market, and showed it off on the MicroServer Gen10 during HPE Discover.

Where does it miss?

With the introduction of Gen10, HPE is touting the security of their ProLiant servers – billing them as the ‘most secure industry standard server.’  With the MicroServer, the absence of iLO means the security features do not extend to the new MicroServer.  The ‘silicon root of trust’ utilizes the iLO 5 silicon to establish that NIST compliant security, so even the inclusion of an iLO 4 would not have helped this capability.

The iLO inconsistency is not a first for HPE – a couple of the lower-end Gen8 models included iLO3 chips rather than the new iLO4 that shipped with Gen8.  Some of the Gen9 models are missing an iLO all together.  The compromise is certainly targeted towards bringing costs down, but its a trade off that I’m sad to see.  Even the original MicroServer G7 model had the option of an remote console card in the PCI slot – a waste of a PCI slot in my opinion – but at least it had the option for anyone who found it important.

If HPE wants to follow a SoC motherboard model for this line, I hope to see a Xeon-D variant in the future. A socketed model is better, but with a wide support of the Intel SoC models, I hope that at least we get an option in the future.

I’ve used a ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 in my home lab for years.  I sold it during my move, but it is truly one of the best home lab models I have found, mostly because I prefer a strong and capable IPMI.  So, that’s why I think I’m taking the absence of iLO so hard in this new model.  The community waited for a long time for this and the home lab options from SuperMicro are abundant, even with a sub-par IMPI interface.

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Philip is a IT solutions engineer working for AmWINS Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in Charlotte, NC. With a focus on data center technologies, he has built a career helping his customers and his employers deploy better IT solutions to solve their problems. Philip holds certifications in VMware and Microsoft technologies and he is a technical jack of all trades that is passionate about IT infrastructure and all things Apple. He's a part-time blogger and author here at Techazine.com.

7 Responses to “HPE intros new ProLiant Microserver Gen10, steps backwards”

  1. I bought one for testing and sure enough it does not have iLO.

    The more powerful CPU and 32GB ram, 6G disk throughput on all drive bays is welcome upgrade from Gen8 but after waiting so long from the Gen8 to Gen10 this is a real shame to be missing iLO.

    It doesn’t come with a TPM module either but you can purchase separately. However there is no support for a better RAID card like you could do with the Gen8 so you are stuck with RAID 1 or 10 only (no RAID5)

    Do you think this was done on purpose though? Many SME’s were getting the cheap Gen8 micro servers and HP were losing out on sales of the higher spec hardware to SME’s. I though that was why they discontinued them with the Gen9. Gen10 is sufficiently crippled to make this not viable to the SME market. Maybe this is for the home enthusiast market only.

    July 17, 2017 at 1:19 pm Reply
  2. ben #

    just a thought re: ILO but i have an old N54L running a HP remote access card.

    card is a HP 615095_B21

    is there anything stopping me swapping this card into a Gen10 microserver & using this for ILO (of sorts)

    effectively i’m trying to decide between the Gen8 and Gen10 servers at the moment. gen8 limits RAM to 16gb but has ILO, gen10 has better CPU 7 RAM capacity but no ILO…….hmmm

    August 13, 2017 at 7:53 am Reply
    • Andre #

      Ben, I suspect that the card out of the N54L will not work. The card and N54L got an additional socket/header in addition to the PCIe slot, e.g. the card isn’t pure PCIe.
      If you are lucky some of the functionality may work (e.g. reset, maybe gfx redirection and virtual input devices) while other parts (e.g. sensors) will not.

      If I have the space and can live with the potential noise I’d opt for an ML10. It’s easier to find an replacement CPU (non HP branded) and the cost is similar to the gen10 Microserver and has full AMT with the E vlavour CPU.

      September 1, 2017 at 2:15 pm Reply
  3. Joe #

    I have two Gen8s, without the ILO functionality I would not, as we have no monitors in the house. For my use, one NAS and one iSCSI target, the Gen10 offers nothing.

    September 5, 2017 at 5:28 am Reply
    • Bexy #

      I have to agree at our place we use one as a windows server sharing “MY MOVIES” to kodi, and another as the asterisk phone server, both are hidden away so the Gen 10 missing ILO makes it useless 🙁

      September 9, 2017 at 3:04 am Reply
  4. Ottavio #

    I also was waiting so long for the successor of the lucky Gen8 but when I noticed they took iLO away I was really shocked.
    It’s named (micro)SERVER (and micro because of dimensions). So, as a server, in a server context, the ipmi cannot missing. A server, even a cheap one, is not a personal computer or a workstation so the absence of the ipmi cannot be accepted. I cannot believe it’s for cut-down the costs if we consider the iLO license is not for free. And it’s a non-sense from HPE to release an evolution of a previous server generation cutting so important features that right a server should have.
    I work for a company that assembles and sells servers and computer hardware in general and we sold dozens and dozens of MicroServer Gen8 to SME in the last years right because it has all the features of a server, with entry-level performance, and of course a very affordable price. Being used as server, thanks to iLO, we didn’t need to sell uncomfortable and bulky monitors, keyboards and mouses. In addition, we could perform remote assistance, maintenance without the needs to physically go to the customers and install o.s. and softwares without the needs of cd/dvd or usb sticks.
    It’s just shocking as well as disconcerting that in 2017 with the new version of this microserver we will be forced to go backwards with no remote ipmi and with no virtual media.
    The only pro is the adoption of the DDR4 that bring the max amount of ram to 32GB but all the rest (missing iLO and microsd slot, SoC instead of socket) it’s a big big step backwards that will force us (and like us many many other people who made the Gen8 a global success) to look otherwhere when the dear Gen8 will go on pension.
    If all this is for HPE a “new generation server” I just have to do to HP my congratulations and my best wishes.

    September 17, 2017 at 9:36 am Reply
    • Why no iLO?!! Come on HP!! That’s the core reason these boxes are of practical business use! GPU is a nice feature, but honestly, that’s a horrible trade off for losing iLO! I was ready to start selling and deploying to my clients until I read this! I’ll stay with G8’s and hope HPE finds an upgradable option for these!

      October 23, 2017 at 6:27 am Reply

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