The Proliant G6 line of servers are quiet – and that’s big for anyone using server grade hardware at home (me). I had started with G5 servers, but those were pretty loud – especially the DL380 – per the HP quickspecs document, 44dB. Then I upgraded everything to G6 servers and it made a HUGE difference – sort of.
The ESX host is a DL360 – nothing special here, just an extra NIC. The G6 is much quieter – 33dB per quickspecs, and I believe it.
Then there’s the DL380 G6 storage server. At the time, it was a redesign of the previous storage server – including an IBM M1015 card and the HP SAS expander to use all 16 of the front SFF drives. The internal P400 card is OK for some applications, but ZFS is NOT one of them – it does not present drives to the OS natively (pass-through) so that’s why the M1015 card is in use.
This server was LOUD and it was supposed to be quieter than the DL360 sitting right below it – a full 11dB quieter at 22dB. This was simply not the case – the fans were spinning at or near 100%. There are tons of posts about different settings for the fans in the BIOS of the server that allow some control of the fans, but I had these set correctly for minimal fan noise. There are also several posts about a newer BIOS firmware for the DL380 that improve the settings available for fan control…but that was not the case as the first thing I had done was use the smart update disk so I knew it was up to date.
I searched for a while looking for drivers or a setting in FreeBSD that could maybe control the fan speed…nothing.
Here’s the kicker: I saw a single line in some HP document stating that PCI card electrical load will cause the fans to throttle up. That was it! The HP SAS Expander and M1015 cards were causing the fans to spin like crazy – while fine for the datacenter, NOT fine for the home lab.
Needless to say, the DL380 G6 is now an ESX host with NO PCI cards and it is nearly silent.