A quick introduction to HP ProLiant servers

This content is 15 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Every now and again, I seem to find myself looking at HP’s ProLiant range of industry standard servers. The technology moves ahead but it’s pretty easy to understand where the various models sit in the range because of HP’s product naming system.

The basic principles have been the same for years – the “BMW” numbering scheme: 1 series, 3 series, 5 series and 7 series:

  • 1-series servers are entry level servers, targetted at the SMB and High Performance Computing markets, typically with fewer enterprise features (e.g. hot plug components) on board.
  • 3-series servers include HP’s 1U DL360 “pizza box” server and the ever-popular DL380 with 2 sockets and a range of storage and connectivity options.
  • 5-series servers are the 4-way machines for high-end appllication workloads, with plenty of internal storage and connectivity capacity.
  • The 7-series was discontinued for a while (as HP didn’t have an 8-way server) but, with increasing demands for powerful servers for consolidation/virtualisation, it was re-introduced with a DL785 that competes with other manufacturers’ servers such as the SunFire X4600.

The final digit is either a 0 (for an Intel server) or a 5 (for an AMD server). DL servers are rack-mountable (D for density), with ML for tower/freestanding servers, although some of these can also be converted to rack-mount. Each ML server is numbered 10 lower than its DL equivalent – so an ML370 is equivalent to a DL380.

A couple of years ago, HP launched its c-class blades and each blade server (prefixed with BL) was numbered as for the corresponding DL or ML server, but with 100 added to the model number – so a DL380 equivalent blade is a BL480c (c for c-class).

Finally, there’s a generation identifier (e.g. G5, G6). Each generation represents a step forward architecturally (e.g. a move from Ultra 320 to serial-attached SCSI disks, or the adoption of Intel’s latest “Nehalem” processors).

Once you know the system, it’s all pretty straightforward – and, as HP controls half the market for industry standard x64 servers, hopefully this blog post will be useful to someone who’s trying to get their head around it.

7 thoughts on “A quick introduction to HP ProLiant servers

  1. Mark,

    would be interesting if you could explain for IBM servers too. We use ProLiants here but always on the look out for new machines. A run down of IBM’s offerings would be very useful…


  2. @Colin – thanks for the feedback. I might have to do some research for the IBM servers but I did used to know one of their technical pre-sales guys and it will be good for me to look him up so I’ll see what I can do!

  3. Hi Mark,

    More than happy to help you with the IBM info if you wish? We are an IBM and HP Partner and could forward you all the relevant information you require to collate your article.



  4. Hi Mark,

    Like how we have BL 460c which is a C- class enclosure, what does ML350p, ML350e, and DL360E stand for?

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