HP t730 Thin Client as an HP Microserver Gen7 Upgrade

arglebargle

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thanks for all the info gentlemen! much appreciated

was leaning towards the 730 due to active cooling and extra room for future expansion but I believe I'll go with the 620.
I think that's the best call unless you have a specific use-case in mind that utilizes the extra compute power. This vendor has been listing a unit a day for the last couple of months, they start at $1 and bid up from there. The T620 Plus has been getting more attention recently, I think it's been linked on Reddit a couple of times in the last week or two, so prices are a little higher now than they have been. I've seen those end at ~$40-45 on the low end, just FYI.

edit: Also, I usually search for the SoC when I'm looking for these machines.

@WANg - Just FYI, it doesn't look like there's any BIOS support on the DFI boards for IOMMU or virtualization extensions, I never did manage to get passthrough working on mine anyway.
 
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WANg

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thanks for all the info gentlemen! much appreciated

was leaning towards the 730 due to active cooling and extra room for future expansion but I believe I'll go with the 620.
Okay, just remember that there are 2 t620 models - the base t620 and the larger t620 Plus. The stock t620 has a GX217A, which is AMD Dualcore Jaguar (15w TDP) while the t620 Plus has a GX-420CA, which is AMD Quadcore Jaguar (25w TDP). Only the t620 Plus has the PCIe x4 slot. Both can do AES in hardware, and both takes DDR3L Notebook RAM. If you need stuff like SR-IOV (PCI PF/VF assignment up to 8 instances for virtualized wire-speed networking) and need a PCIe x8 slot, that's the t730 ONLY.
 
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SwanRonson

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Thanks, yeah reddit is what initially turned me onto these and brought me here.

I will be going with two of the T620 PLUS models and adding an IBM Intel PCI-E Low Profile Gigabit Ethernet Adapter 45W1959 to each.

I will be running either pfsense or VyOS under Proxmox for routing, OpenVPN, etc.

I am on DSL 25/2 Mbit connections so I don't think any sort of sub-gigabit speeds are going to be a problem, LOL
 

WANg

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@WANg - Just FYI, it doesn't look like there's any BIOS support on the DFI boards for IOMMU or virtualization extensions, I never did manage to get passthrough working on mine anyway.
Wait. You were able to get passthrough working (even if it's only 7 VFs) on the t730, but not on the DFI?
 

arglebargle

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Wait. You were able to get passthrough working (even if it's only 7 VFs) on the t730, but not on the DFI?
Yeah, I never could get IOMMU working on the DFI.

The DFI box has IPMI support but otherwise the BIOS seems a little janky.
 
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arglebargle

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Hah! Another reason to favor a t730 - it's only 7 VFs, but at least the passthrough works...
Yeah, and it's pretty well supported if you're passing through to a linux guest. I haven't had any success passing anything through to FreeBSD unfortunately, the driver support just isn't there on the cards I tested. I keep thinking I should pick up an Intel 10Gb card but haven't gotten around to it, maybe after I resell the half dozen spare 10Gb cards I used for testing.
 

WANg

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Yeah, and it's pretty well supported if you're passing through to a linux guest. I haven't had any success passing anything through to FreeBSD unfortunately, the driver support just isn't there on the cards I tested. I keep thinking I should pick up an Intel 10Gb card but haven't gotten around to it, maybe after I resell the half dozen spare 10Gb cards I used for testing.
Hm...that's not really the t730 as much as that most 10/40GbE players don't offer much FreeBSD support for their cards. I want to see someone with a Chinese People's External Security Bureau SuperMicro Xeon-D running PCI VFs in Proxmox successfully...but eeeeh. At this stage I just want to see HP announce a t740 ASAP.
 

arglebargle

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Hm...that's not really the t730 as much as that most 10/40GbE players don't offer much FreeBSD support for their cards. I want to see someone with a Chinese People's External Security Bureau SuperMicro Xeon-D running PCI VFs in Proxmox successfully...but eeeeh. At this stage I just want to see HP announce a t740 ASAP.
Oh, without a doubt that's down to *BSD drivers. Honestly, I'd be over the moon for an ITX LGA2011 motherboard that didn't cost $250-300 -- I'd repurpose my little DFI box for one of those in a heartbeat.
 

arglebargle

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Hah! Another reason to favor a t730 - it's only 7 VFs, but at least the passthrough works...

I am thinking of picking up a Quixant QX50 arcade SoC box when they show up on eBay so I can mess with them. I know some schnook on eBay sold a bunch of QXi4000 (first gen AMD R-Series) for $135 each...could be fun little boxes to mess with
God, the IO on those absolutely kills me:

"Hey Frank, we've built a rugged industrial control PC with dual lan, 4 displayport, usb and quad serial for instrumentation and robotics control. Are we missing anything?"

"Toss 5.1 audio on there, every industrial environment needs surround sound."
 
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WANg

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Okay, interesting update. I just confirmed that the t730 will take 16GB DDR3L SODIMMs.

So here's some photos:

Picked up a pair of 16GB DIMMs from Nemix, which is this vendor on eBay/Newegg marketplace with a checkered reputation. Quoted price is 190 USD for the pair, which is not bad considering that 2x8GB DIMMs quote for about 120 USD nowadays. Note the 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws RAM that was pulled out.



At first I thought the machine did not post properly as nothing appeared on the LCD...until I realized that the LCD was not connected all the way. Once I did that I realized that the machine booted up, and both the BIOS and the gparted LiveCD image saw the RAM. I did some stress testing and the machine worked just fine.



After about an hour of stress testing, the machine was rebooted into ESXi, and everything looks just fine.
Not sure if I can vouch for the Jaguar based machines (t620/t620 Plus), but the Kaveri ones are okay.
The same should extend to the other RX-427BB machines like the DFI-122BE, or the AMD FX7600p laptops (like the Asus X550Z) out there.

 
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arglebargle

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Are you having problems cold booting yours without a display too? I ran into that when testing mine. It seemed to need a display plugged in to cold boot Proxmox but I don't recall any problems rebooting without one after that.
 

WANg

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Are you having problems cold booting yours without a display too? I ran into that when testing mine. It seemed to need a display plugged in to cold boot Proxmox but I don't recall any problems rebooting without one after that.
No no no, everything was fine on my t730, there was no issue. When I didn't see anything on my portable LCD monitor (GeChic OnLap 1301) I naturally assumed that the machine didn't boot...it did boot, but it was waiting for the default boot timeout on the USB live image before going to the next stage. When I realized that the connector on the LCD side of the monitor was not secured I just plugged it back in, power cycled the machine...and everything just worked. I normally run my t730 headless except after major maintenance work or when I am testing something in Win10 (I have a spare M.2 drive with Windows 10 installed).

Were you having cold boot issue on the t730 or the DFI?
 
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arglebargle

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No no no, everything was fine on my t730, there was no issue. When I didn't see anything on my portable LCD monitor (GeChic OnLap 1301) I naturally assumed that the machine didn't boot...it did boot, but it was waiting for the default boot timeout on the USB live image before going to the next stage. When I realized that the connector on the LCD side of the monitor was not secured I just plugged it back in, power cycled the machine...and everything just worked. I normally run my t730 headless except after major maintenance work or when I am testing something in Win10 (I have a spare M.2 drive with Windows 10 installed).

Were you having cold boot issue on the t730 or the DFI?
Both actually, but only on Linux and only if the displays were 100% unplugged on a cold boot. I never dug into it further, I just planned on buying one of those dummy displayport EDID dongles if the problem persisted.
 

WANg

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Both actually, but only on Linux and only if the displays were 100% unplugged on a cold boot. I never dug into it further, I just planned on buying one of those dummy displayport EDID dongles if the problem persisted.
Only Proxmox, or any Debian? I don't recall the t730 doing that in Proxmox 5 when I installed it on the SATA. I'll give it a try this weekend and verify.
 

arglebargle

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Only Proxmox, or any Debian? I don't recall the t730 doing that in Proxmox 5 when I installed it on the SATA. I'll give it a try this weekend and verify.
IIRC only proxmox, I'm not sure whether it was hanging at GRUB or after that. I didn't do extensive testing, I had a lot of machines I was working on at the time. When I finish my current projects I'll go back and test more thoroughly. EFI GRUB was a little weird on these machines, and I never really bothered setting up legacy boot, I wonder if that had something to do with it.
 

SwanRonson

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- The thin client is absolutely silent, and have no problems with the Solarflare SFN5122F inside (the Flareon will lock up the t730 after 10 minutes of use regardless of which OS was being used...my guess is that it is just too power hungry or runs too hot).

hmmm...

The Flareon says it draws 7.3W avg, while the HP optionally came with a 26W FirePro card

https://www.solarflare.com/Media/De...-LATEST_Solarflare_SFN7322F_Product_Brief.pdf

http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/getpdf.aspx/c04743502.pdf?ver=3

not entirely convinced it was a power problem, although that obviously is within the realm of possibility. i'm thinking heat is more likely.
 

WANg

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hmmm...

The Flareon says it draws 7.3W avg, while the HP optionally came with a 26W FirePro card

https://www.solarflare.com/Media/De...-LATEST_Solarflare_SFN7322F_Product_Brief.pdf

http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/getpdf.aspx/c04743502.pdf?ver=3

not entirely convinced it was a power problem, although that obviously is within the realm of possibility. i'm thinking heat is more likely.
It's a heat problem. The issue with the SFN7322 is that it has a large heat sink and no fan to push the heat out, and when it's mounted on the t730 the heat sink is located directly above the cage housing the RAM, so you are essentially throwing heat into something that is in itself running quite hot. The FirePro W2100 does have a fan onboard to prevent just that. The SFN5122 that I am using actually throws 6w via a smaller heatink onto the back of the APU brace, which acts as a heatsink to wick away the heat, so I was able to avoid major issues thus far. If you plan to install a GT1030 video card for gaming, make sure it's one with a built-in fan.
 
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arglebargle

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It's a heat problem. The issue with the SFN7322 is that it has a large heat sink and no fan to push the heat out, and when it's mounted on the t730 the heat sink is located directly above the cage housing the RAM, so you are essentially throwing heat into something that is in itself running quite hot. The FirePro W2100 does have a fan onboard to prevent just that. The SFN5122 that I am using actually throws 6w via a smaller heatink onto the back of the APU brace, which acts as a heatsink to wick away the heat, so I was able to avoid major issues thus far. If you plan to install a GT1030 video card for gaming, make sure it's one with a built-in fan.
So the 7322 is too long to jam a low profile fan in there eh? I toyed with the idea of jury-rigging an old low profile GPU heatsink onto whatever network card I settle on, maybe that's an option? I picked up a super low profile (<1cm thick) 50mm fan in case I needed it with any of the high performance NICs but if the card is super long like you're describing that won't do you any good.
 

WANg

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So the 7322 is too long to jam a low profile fan in there eh? I toyed with the idea of jury-rigging an old low profile GPU heatsink onto whatever network card I settle on, maybe that's an option? I picked up a super low profile (<1cm thick) 50mm fan in case I needed it with any of the high performance NICs but if the card is super long like you're describing that won't do you any good.
Honestly, I didn't try to install one - not sure where I can go to tap power to run the fan (I don't recall seeing a single molex connector in there), and even if I do, I don't have one handy. That being said, it's not that long. It's just a massive heatsink. I'll toss up some photos of the 7322 versus the 5122.