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HP Z820 Workstation

5. 850W or 1125W Power Supply
6. 16 DIMM Slots
7. 3 External 5.25" Bays
8. 4 Internal 3.5” Bays
9. 2 Intel Xeon Processors E5-2600 family
10. Rear I/O: Rear Power Button & LED, PS/2 Ports, 1 1394a, 4 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 2 RJ-45 to Integrated GbE, 1 Audio Line In, 1 Audio Line Out, 1 Microphone, 1 Serial Port
11. 3 PCIe x16 Gen3 Slots (3rd Slot available ONLY when 2nd CPU is installed)
12. 1 PCIe x16 (x8) Gen3 (Available ONLY when 2nd CPU is installed), 1 PCIe x8(x4) Gen3, 1 PCIe x8(x4) Gen2, 1 PCI Slot
13. 6 Internal USB 2.0 Ports
14. 6 SATA, 8 SAS Ports

Resources (on hp.com)

  • Z820 F1K08UT $2,439 - the perfect base model with decent performance
    - 1 Xeon E5-2630 v2 2.60/15MB/6C/1600
    - 4GB RAM
    - no graphics
    - 500GB 7200 rpm SATA HDD
    What we would do to it:
    - bump the RAM to 16GB or higher
    - add a graphics card (GeForce GTX-770 perhaps, or Quadro K4000)
    - add internal or external storage for video
    - perhaps replace the boot drive with a good SSD
  • Z820 F1K15UT $9,999 - one of the two highest performance Z820 configurations available: 24 total physical cores (48 with hyper-threading).
    - 2 Xeon E5-2697 v2 2.70/30MB/12C/1866
    - 16GB RAM (Unbuffered)
    -  no graphics
    - 240GB SSD, 1TB 7200 rpm SATA HDD
    - 1125W Power Supply
    What we would do to it:
    - upgrade memory to 128+GB registered ECC 1866MHz
    - add graphics: (GeForce GTX-780 Ti, Quadro K5000 or K6000)
    - add internal or external storage for video
    - replace the boot drive with a higher capacity SSD
Note: HP "Smartbuys" (HP's "pre-configured" or "quick-ship" models) are often available at a discount vs. CTO ("Configure To Order") models, and ship faster. Smartbuy models and configurations do change time to time: check to see if it's available from HP before making a purchase decision.

Slot Configuration

  1. PCIe3 x8 (4) — CPU0
  2. PCIe3 x16 — CPU0
  3. PCIe3 x16 (8) — CPU1 (white)
  4. PCIe3 x16 — CPU1 (white)
  5. PCIe2 x8 (4) — CPU0
  6. PCIe3 x16 — CPU0
  7. PCI 32/33 — CPU0
(see page 33 of HP Maintenance and Service Guide, for additional information)

HP Z820 System Board Components

System board component descriptions

I/O PCI/PCIe Power
1 Front 1394a16 PCIe3 x8 (4) — CPU031 Battery 
2 Front audio17 PCIe3 x16 — CPU032 CPU0 power 
3 Front USB 2.018 PCIe3 x16 (8) — CPU133 CPU1 power
4 Front USB 3.019 PCIe3 x16 — CPU134 Front power button/ LED/ speaker
5 Internal USB 2.020 PCIe2 x8 (4) — CPU035 Main power
6 Keyboard/mouse21 PCIe3 x16 — CPU036 Memory power
7 Rear audio22 PCI 32/33 — CPU037 Rear power button /LED
8 Rear USB 2.0/NetworkCoolingService
9 Rear USB 3.0/1394a23 Auxiliary fan 1 (front)38 Clear CMOS button
10 Serial24 Auxiliary fan 2 (rear)39 Crisis recovery jumper
SAS/SATA25 CPU/memory fans40 ME/AMT Flash override
11 AHCI 6Gb/s26 Front fan 1 (top)41 Password jumper 
12 Hard disk drive LED27 Front fan 2 (bottom) 
13 SAS/SATA 6Gb/s28 Liquid cooling 0 power  
14 SAS (optional)29 Liquid cooling 1 power  
15 SCU 3Gb/s 30 Rear chassis fans  

1. 3 External 5.25" Bays  
2. Power Button
3. HDD Activity LED
4. Front I/O: 1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 Headphone, 1 Microphone, 1 1394a

Manuals and Guides

(HP updates documents and their locations regularly: some links may not work.) 

Configuration Notes

  1. Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2687W is only available in dual processor configurations with Liquid Cooling and with the 1125W Power Supply. E5-2687W v2 however does not require liquid cooling and is available in single CPU configurations.
  2. Optional 1125W Power Supply is required with most high power CPUs and graphics card configurations.
  3. Only two SATA ports are 6G, the remaining four are 3G:
    - SATA 6Gbs - 2 ports;
    - SATA 3Gbs - 4 ports;
    - SAS 6Gbs - 8 ports.
  4. SSDs and Z820: 
    1. Not all 3rd party SSDs are compatible with HP Z820. Customers attempting to install 3rd party SSDs have encountered compatibility problems. Those problems may have been fixed with Z820 BIOS versions 1.08 or higher. It's still recommended to extensively test 6G SSDs before using them in production environment.
    2. HP SSDs may not be the optimum choice for high performance configurations. For instance, HP 300GB SSD LZ069AT commonly offered with HP Z800 and Z820, is an Intel X25-M SATA 3G that is much slower than Intel's more current 330 and 520 series SSDs, and doesn't take advantage of Z820's 6G SATA speeds. That said, we tested Samsung 840 Pro and Intel 520 series on SAS and SATA 6G ports, and are offering them on select Z820 configurations.

HP workstations and SFF drives

Some HP servers (that are actually smaller than an HP Z820) can fit up to 16 (yes, sixteen) SFF drives.

HP ProLiant ML370 G5
HP Proliant ML370 G5 server with a 16-bay backplane

HP Z820 without side cover
HP Z820

How many can a Z820 fit? Four in standard LFF (Legacy Form Factor) bays (see "8" in the illustration above) and 4-6 more, two per optical bay using an adapter like this:

HP 2.5in HDD 2-in-1 Optical Bay Bracket P/N FX615AA

...or this:

...that fits in an optical 5.25" bays.

That's a total of ten (eight if there's a DVD drive), while the Z820 has fourteen SAS/SATA ports. You can see where we're going with this.

Why SFF (Small Form Factor) drives? For one, they're the present and immediate future of storage. SSDs are mostly SFF or smaller. SFF drives benefit from less vibration and can be made to higher tolerances. More SFF drives can fit in the same space which means higher speeds when you stripe them, which in turn means you may not need a heavy, bulky, expensive external SAS expander box to house a bunch of drives for those uncompressed 4K workflows.

Enter HP 4-in-1 SFF (2.5in) HDD Carrier (P/N B8K60AA) retailing for $139 and what really is Icy Dock MB994SP-4S. Says so on the label.
HP 4-in-1 SFF (2.5in) HDD Carrier

This metal device lets you use four SAS or SATA spinning or SSD drives, has two fans and four SAS ports in the back, a single Molex 4-pin power connector. Two of those, and you can have a total of 12 drives in a Z820. The device isn't quite server grade: sub par quality, no hot-swap support. Unlike this unit, HP server backplanes' LEDs can indicate drive fault, and RAID set selection besides activity. This unit's activity lights are tiny, hard to see, and in my experience, don't always work. We've asked HP to come up with server-grade backplanes for the workstations and still hoping it might happen.

Meanwhile, this device is the best option to house a number of SSDs or SFF spinning drives - including 16mm high SAS ones - in a Z820 - or any other system with a spare optical bay and SATA or SAS ports.
Alex Gerulaitis (DV411),
May 23, 2013, 8:05 PM